October 23rd, 2014- Philadelphia, PA. It is with deep regret and heavy hearts that we announce the passing of one of our treasured members, Gloria Casarez. In addition to being a loving wife, the trusted and well-respected City of Philadelphia Czar to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Community, a fierce community advocate and leader, Gloria was a founding member of the House of Blahnik’s National Board of Directors in 2002; serving as Vice Chairman from 2002 to 2007. Gloria’s accomplishments within the House of Blahnik include shepherding the development of the not-for-profit arm of the organization and being the visionary that championed the establishment of the House of Blahnik Day within the City of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in May 2010.
“Beyond all of her tireless community work, she was a loving and supportive friend. My mind replays the audio from past conversations where we planned our next victories, or she would share highlights from one of her fabulous vacations with her devoted partner, Tricia. Those moments helped to change a city, communities, and my life in a profound way,” says Damon L. Humes, House of Blahnik’s Executive Director. Her life is hallmark for courage, strength, determination and love.
We, the House of Blahnik, past and present members, leaders, parents and the entire body of the National Board of Directors, evoked Ballroom’s most revered tradition – conferring “Legendary” status. On this day and forever more, she will be memorialized in celebration of her life and saluted for her many trailblazing accomplishments as the “Legendary Gloria Blahnik Casarez!” Like legends that have come before her, she has made significant contributions within, and on behalf of, the community as she led the creation and implementation of programs and services that improved health, wellness and the systems that they are part of; as well as access to, and ongoing support for medical, social and human services. She helped to increase the community’s visibility; garnered acceptance and support by non-LGBT people and fostered greater appreciation for the cultural and artistic innovations created by the Ballroom.
“Did you ever know that you’re my HERO? You’re everything I wish I could be. I can fly higher than an eagle. You are the wind beneath my wings.” We love you Gloria!