A pro-LGBTQIA+ center in Pennsylvania that hosted youth drag shows and promoted Young Communist League of Philadelphia events has received the support of Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., who has pushed federal funding for the group.
Throughout 2023, Casey has voiced support for additional funding for the Philadelphia-based William Way LGBT Community Center. Earlier this year, the senator requested a $1 million earmark in the FY 2024 appropriations bill for the organization.
The nonprofit, according to its website, has embarked "on a daring and visionary project to transform and rebuild our existing community center into a more expansive, inclusive, colorful, and unabashedly queer space for all LGBTQIA+ individuals to gather, celebrate, learn, and find life-giving support."
Earlier this month, according to Pennsylvania Gay News – a local outlet covering LGBTQ issues in the city – William Way was allocated $2 million in Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney’s city FY 2024 operating budget. Those funds, the outlet noted, will "go toward expanding and improving spaces for the center’s 1315 Spruce Street headquarters."
"In addition to the $2 million allocation, several politicians in Pennsylvania also voiced their support for additional funding," the outlet reported. "Congressman Brendan Boyle, Sen. Bob Casey and Sen. John Fetterman all recommended the center for Federal Community Project Funding from the Appropriations Committee."
"For nearly half a century, the William Way Community Center has connected Philadelphia’s LGBTQ+ community to resources ranging from nutrition to housing to mental health and more," Casey told the outlet. "I am advocating for federal funding for the Center so it can grow and continue to provide lifesaving services to the community."
The event, according to the Philly Gay Calendar, highlighted "drag performers, who share cultural, environmental, queer and decolonial visions of a future," and "the way colonialism affected both land and people."
The event was touted as an opportunity "to discuss issues of colonialism, the climate crisis and a regenerative future with local drag performers of first-generation and immigrant experience."
In 2016, William Way also hosted a youth drag show featuring performances from children.
Described by the same pro-LGBT outlet in a September 2016 article titled "Youth celebrate the art of drag at William Way," the venue looked "like any other town hall" two hours prior to the show.
"Feather fans begin to cover a table. Dozens of curling irons, combs, make–up mirrors and brushes emerge on another, along with make–up and glitter in every color, and a Hello Kitty box. A bearded man in studded leather platform boots approaches and begins to apply make–up to the face of a little boy," the outlet reported from the event.
Esai – an 11-year-old child at the time – was a drag performer at the event whose mother is a drag performer and producer of drag shows for kids.
"According to his mother, Dre, he has been sneaking her heels into his bedroom since he was much younger," the outlet reported. "Dre is a drag performer herself, having produced another drag show by the name of 'Fierce' – the only queer burlesque festival in the world. She also produced the first non–gender binary talent show for kids, 'Twinkle.'"
Two other children – Sofia, age 12 at the time, and Max, then 8 – were also involved in the drag show and had "their own drag personas."
The outlet – which described the event as "just kids dancing around, playing dress–up, having fun" – also noted that Max occasionally dropped "into the splits in his long red dress" while performing for those in attendance.
One drag performer connected to the event suggested that exposing children to drag "offers young children a chance to explore and gain a ‘wider understanding’ of gender," the outlet stated.
In addition to the drag shows it has supported in the past, William Way has also supported the Young Communist League of Philadelphia, a group that has pushed for socialism in the United States.
The Young Communist League of Philadelphia, according to its website, is "dedicated to the revolutionary cause of the working class of our country and the transformation of the United States through mass democratic struggle into a socialist society."
In a June 29 post shared to Facebook, William Way highlighted a series of events hosted by the Young Communist League of Philadelphia to protest parents rights group Moms for Liberty's conference in Philadelphia.
"Below is a list of events you can attend, support our communities and show this hate group that their views are NOT welcomed," the group wrote on Facebook. The Young Communist League had several dance party protests scheduled during the Moms for Liberty conference.
Moms for Liberty is a conservative-aligned group "dedicated to fighting for the survival of America by unifying, educating and empowering parents to defend their parental rights at all levels of government."
The Philadelphia Young Communist League has touted its "deep friendship" with China in the past, writing in a July 2021 tweet: "The Communist Party USA is the officially recognized communist party by the socialist world. We have a deep friendship with Vietnam and China in particular. So join the party to show your solidarity!"
Casey – who has represented the Keystone State in the upper chamber since 2007 and is up for re-election next year – announced in April that he was launching a re-election campaign in hopes of securing his fourth term representing the battleground state.
"I’m running for re-election because with so much on the line for Pennsylvania’s working families, I want to keep delivering results for Pennsylvania," Casey said in a statement at the time.
Casey's office and William Way did not immediately respond to a Fox News Digital request for comment.