Andreas Copes : Scholarship Legacy Story

Executive Director of PhillyGayCalendar

Recently, DVLF talked with DVLF/Independence Business Alliance (DVLF/IBA) Scholarship Winner Andreas Copes (They/Them) about earning the award, their career, and their dreams of further contributing to the LGBTQ+ community. We find their story inspiring and hope you do, too.

DVLF: Good day, Andreas. You have quite a story. You have chronicled LGBTQ+ history, present day, and where the community is going through your multiple roles including that of your creation of QT (Queer Temple on Temple University TV) as well as the Philadelphia Gay News. Tell me about how being involved in LGBTQ+ content inspires you.

Andreas Copes: I believe that we can only understand the present if we have a deep understanding of our past as LGBTQ+ people. I also think that our present and past are always connected and interact with one another. So, our history, specifically the history of gay men, informed the response to the Mpox cases in 2022. It also gave us ways to demand action from the federal government. BUT, it does not stop there. ACT UP was and is a forerunner in organizing and protesting. These actions were deeply important and are deeply important in demanding action for a more just world. It is also important for me to understand history in the context it occurred. Words meant different things in the past and actions deemed inappropriate today were common, though at times even questionable, back then. In short, by using the power of content creation, I want to combine past, future and present to contextualize the LGBTQ+ experience, to move forward in a safe and healing space that eventually improves the quality of all people – even those of straight people.

DVLF: Indeed, you role as a writer creates new and stronger spaces. What is one thing you would say that drives your intrinsic interest in remaining involved in the LGBTQ+ community today?

Andreas Copes: I owe it to the people who came before me, to not forget and carry on their legacy. The concept of family and ancestry is different in the LGBTQ+ community compared to heteronormative constructions. It is my and our responsibility to keep people like Marsha P. Johnson, Dr. John Fryer, Barbara Gittings, et al, alive by carrying on their words and messages.

DVLF: We agree, and what great leaders among us from our recent past. How would you like to be known for making (a) contribution/s to journalism?

Andreas Copes: I would like to be known as the “unknown,” for the lack of better words. It is not me who should be the “known” person. Rather, it is me who must know people to give them the chance to tell their stories. I am a learner. I love listening to stories and learning about life experiences. My role is listening and encouraging, building up people and seeing their potential. If, at some point in my career, people will know me because I helped them by telling their story, then that is all I want.

DVLF: It seems you are very self-aware of your space and potential to influence readers of your work. How would you like to be known for making contributions to the LGBTQ community?

Andreas Copes: I would like for people to think of me as a source of healing, advice, and aid. I want them to know that I am a safe space to tell their story and to talk about what they think is wrong. I think if people hear their voices reflected or know they have someone with them, then that is what I really would like for them to think of me.

DVLF: That’s very thoughtful, Andreas. Thank you for sharing this about yourself. How did the DVLF/IBA Scholarship positively impact your life at the time of being a student? We know you have many skills, attributes, and experience, and yet we wonder how the scholarship made a difference to you.

Andreas Copes: The DVLF/IBA scholarship was my steppingstone. It made me realize that I had the potential to ease my financial burden by asking for help. And by being awarded the scholarship, I understood that my career path and drive fills a need in the LGBTQ+ community. The scholarship gave me hope and acknowledgement to keep on going and fight for “my [LGBTQ+] team.”

DVLF: Terrific. That’s a great reflection and I appreciate you sharing that with us. What can you share about the opportunity and the scholarship award that might create the inspiration for another student to apply when the scholarship is offered again?

Andreas Copes: Apply! Again, and again, and again. Don’t think that one year of rejection says anything about you or your work. It is competitive, but so is the real world after you graduate. Do not give up. You are worthy!

DVLF: That’s persuasive and motivating, Andeas. Last question: What is one of your goals? It can be LGBTQ+ related, journalism- or career-related, business-related, person/life/friends/community related – would you tell us why it is important to you?

Andreas Copes: I want to further increase visibility for LGBTQ+ and especially marginalized communities. I would also like to become a known producer, a person people come to if they think that their story is not being told.

DVLF: I believe you may already be well on your way, my friend.

DVLF is the leading fundraiser serving the emerging needs of the Greater Philadelphia LGBTQ+ community. DVLF was created in 1993 to benefit the Philadelphia region’s community through philanthropy, raising money for a permanent endowment. Our critical mission provides for services which foster positive change every year through advocacy, grantmaking, scholarships, programming, and education. Since our founding, we have given over $1 million dollars to advance the constantly evolving needs of the LGBTQ+ community. Each year we receive more proposals than we can fund. By our 30th anniversary, our vision is to fully fund every qualified proposal received from Greater Philadelphia LGBTQ+ serving organizations.

The Independence Business Alliance is a membership-based business advocacy organization dedicated to making the Philadelphia region an influential and diverse LGBTQ+ business community with an impact on economic development, equal rights and policy issues. The IBA is an official affiliate of the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC).

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