A Philly tourism legend now has a Gayborhood street named after him. He joins the ranks of other LGBTQ civil rights icons named on the rainbow-striped street signs.
City and tourism organization officials gathered on National Coming Out Day Tuesday to rename a portion of South 13th Street “Jeff Guaracino Way.”
“He was Mr. Hospitality,” said Sheila Hess, representative of the Mayor, who read a proclamation recognizing Guaracino. “Always thinking … how we need to put Philadelphia on everyone’s map.”
Guaracino led the tourism marketing agency Visit Philly — and before that, the non-profit Welcome America, Inc., which puts on the July 4th festival. He also wrote books, including “Gay and Lesbian Tourism: The Essential Guide for Marketing.”
He’s known as one of the forces behind a revolutionary 2003 ad campaign that framed Philly as a gay travel destination: “Get your history straight and your nightlife gay.”
Guaracino passed away late last year at the age of 48, after a battle with cancer.
Officials unveiled the new sign on the corner of 13th and Spruce streets and another one block away Tuesday, after a joyful celebration with performances by singer-songwriter Julian King and drag queens VinChelle and Brittany Lynn. Friends and coworkers shared stories about Guaracino’s passion and commitment to driving tourism to the Philly area.
“He loved this city,” said Jerry Guaracino, Jeff’s brother. “He’s always been one of my heroes and a visionary leader. So I’m just really thrilled he’s got to touch so many people’s lives.”
“Jeff was passionate about LGBT history,” said Mark Segal, founder and publisher of Philadelphia Gay News.