Civil Rights Leaders Honored As The LGBT Movement Continues In Philly This Summer


July 2016 is shaping up to be a monumental month for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) residents and visitors in the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection. Philly kicks off the month by loving freedom during the weeklong Independence Day celebration Wawa Welcome America. Next comes qFLIX, a festival of groundbreaking homegrown and international films. And later in the month, the Democratic National Convention (DNC), welcomes the largest-ever group of LGBT convention delegates to Philadelphia, which coincides with dedication ceremonies for two historical markers honoring LGBT pioneers and Equality Forum, the nation’s oldest LGBT rights summit.

Markers Of Pride:

  • The Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission honors eminent civil rights activist Barbara Gittings with a marker outside the home she shared with photojournalist partner Kay Lahusen. Considered the mother of the LGBT rights movement, the late Gittings, a Philadelphia resident from age 18, edited the nation’s first lesbian magazine, co-organized the historic Annual Reminders at Independence Hall (see below) and led charges to promote positive LGBT literature in public libraries and to change the American Psychiatric Association’s classification of homosexuality as a mental illness. July 26, 11 a.m. 21st & Locust Streets.
  • Historic Philadelphia sets the scene for the dedication of a city marker at Arch Street Friends Meeting House, honoring the Philadelphia Conference. The conference took place February 1979 when 300 activists gathered to organize the first National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights. The winter meeting led to a seminal public demonstration of 10,000 people on October 14, 1979. July 27, 11 a.m. 320 Arch Street.

Monumental Events:

  • The 2016 Democratic National Convention expects record numbers of proud LGBT delegates. How much of a record? Predictions are well in excess of the 550 openly LGBT delegates who attended the 2012 DNC. July 25-28.
  • Equality Forum, the nation’s oldest LGBT rights summit, supplements the Democratic National Convention with offsite panels on law, politics and the future of the movement. Forum founder Malcolm Lazin has planned discussions with state representatives, journalists, humanitarians and other newsmakers to focus on state and federal workplace equal protection and transgender equality. July 25-28. National Museum of American Jewish History,
    101 S. Independence Mall East.
  • Bookending Equality Forum, two awards ceremonies recognize activists and allies of the LGBT civil rights movement. First, the 21st annual International Role Model Award honors a to-be-announced recipient. (Previous honorees include Gavin Newsom, Edie Windsor and Barney Frank.) July 25. National Museum of American Jewish History, 101 S. Independence Mall East.
  • The Frank Kameny Award precedes the DNC finale. Named after the co-founder of the Annual Reminders and leader in the fight to end the federal government’s prohibition on employing gays and lesbians, the honor will go to two of President Obama’s openly LGBT appointees, names to be announced. July 28. National Museum of American Jewish History, 101 S. Independence Mall East.

Also In July:

  • Six days of films, some made in Philly, some shot across the globe in China, Trinidad, Australia and Germany, comprise qFLIX, Philly’s edgy LGBT answer to Sundance. The world premiere of People You May Know opens the festival, and the East Coast premiere of Shared Rooms closes it. July 5-10.
  • It’s not all that French, but it’s certainly fabulous at Eastern State Penitentiary’s cheeky take on Bastille Day. The quintessentially queer Bearded Ladies Cabaret present an hour-long song, dance, watermelon beheading—and the finale flinging of Tastykakes from a tower at this clever community celebration. July 16. 2027 Fairmount Avenue.

Photo by M. Fischetti for VISIT PHILADELPHIA®