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LGBTQ+ center in Philadelphia loses federal funding thanks to Libs of TikTok’s lies

The exterior of the William Way Center.
The exterior of the William Way Center. Photo: Screenshot

Technically, they weren’t sex parties.

But that wasn’t enough to salvage $1 million in federal funding earmarked for the William Way LGBT Community Center in Philadelphia, after hate influencer Chaya Raichik publicized a monthly kink gathering that takes place at the 50-year-old gayborhood institution.

“Absolutely sick that our tax dollars would fund this!” Raichik fulminated over her chastity belt last Tuesday. 

Posting on her Libs of TikTok X account, Raichik falsely accused the center of hosting “s*x k*nk parties,” while the truth is a little more complicated.

The “parties” Raichik referenced are hosted at the Center by a group called FetLife, which bills them as “an improvisational interactive theater night focusing on ontological deconstruction of the political theory concepts of Contract and Domination, as put forth by Carole Pateman and Charles Mills.”

“It often utilizes concepts that involve fetish, as well as BDSM.”

Among the rules posted for the monthly “Aviary” event: “Sex and/or penetration is not allowed,” “Bodily fluids (blood, saliva, etc.) may not leave the body,” and “Genitals and anuses must remain covered in non-play areas.”

Pennsylvania Sen. John Fetterman (D) said he was forced to pull the William Way funding from his appropriations request after Raichik ignited a firestorm of criticism over the fetish events.

“I’m new here, but I wasn’t aware that Democratic values and priorities are dictated by Libs of TikTok,” Fetterman wrote in a March 6 statement announcing the withdrawl of the proposed funding, scheduled for a vote the very next day.

“The William Way LGBT Community Center has been doing critical work in Philadelphia for decades. I do not believe that we should penalize this center based on events that are entirely legal among consenting adults. I have no problem with what consenting adults do in their private time.

“Unfortunately, at the 11th hour my staff was made aware that funding for William Way, which was in the bill because I championed it, would not pass the FY24 appropriations process,” Fetterman’s statement continued. “The choice was either to pull it or to watch it get stripped out, attacked by Republicans and ultimately killed. This is not the end of this fight and I am going to fight for William Way to secure their funding in the FY25 appropriations process.”

A statement from Fetterman’s senate colleague Bob Casey (D-PA) read, “Consenting adults have the right to do whatever they want in their free time, but these types of appropriations projects warrant the highest level of scrutiny on behalf of taxpayers.”

“We’re disappointed, we’re outraged,” Chris Bartlett, executive director of the William Way Center told ABC 6 News this week, of losing the funding which would have gone toward a planned renovation of the building.

He added, “We have spoken to the offices of both our senators and we realized they were put in a very difficult position by these lies and distortions.”

Those “lies and distortions” promulgated by Libs of TikTok, Bartlett said, have led to a “real miscarriage of justice here.”

Bartlett said the center will seek alternative sources of funding from local, state, and federal resources, and it has already received private support in the wake of the controversy.

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