Philadelphia's 1965 protests remembered Videos below by Tracy Baim, Windy City Times 2015-07-09
This article shared 557 times since Thu Jul 9, 2015
Several major events, including an historic reenactment, marked the 50th anniversary of the first Reminder Days in Philadelphia July 4th weekend. The Reminder Days were held annually 1965-1969, and were among the most critical precursors to the 1969 Stonewall rebellion sparking the modern LGBT-rights movement.
The centerpiece of the National LGBT 50th Anniversary Celebration was July 4, in front of Independence Hall, where 40 people recreated that first Reminder Day in 1965. Most wore traditional male and female clothing, to honor the original protestors' call for conservative outfits in their fight for homosexual equality. The signage was also a recreation of the professional-looking slogans used 50 years ago.
Near the end of the program, a few younger protesters wore more radical outfits and carried signs asking for transgender equality and a wide range of other LGBT rights issues.
Lesbian comic Wanda Sykes was MC for the July 4 event, which featured more than a dozen speakers and special guests. U.S. Supreme Court marriage victors Edie Windsor and Jim Obergefell were at many weekend events, including the reenactment, where Obergefell addressed the crowd.
Obergefell also attended the kickoff for the weekend, a July 2 wreath-laying at the Gay Pioneers Historical Marker honoring those early pioneers. Attending that event were three of the 1960s marchers: Ada Bello, Paul Kuntzler and John James. Each of those pioneers, along with pioneer Randy Wicker, also attended various weekend panels and events. The Gay Pioneers historic marker is across the street from Independence Hall and Liberty Bell Center.
Among the diversity of speakers at the July 4 Independence Hall event were Amanda Simpson, President Obama's highest-ranking transgender appointee; Kate Kendell, head of the National Center for Lesbian Rights; Tamika Butler, co-chair of the NCLR board; Sergeant Eric Alva, the first soldier injured in the Iraq war; John Holmes III, a descendent of President George Washington; singers Jonathan Allen and GoGo Morrow; Walter Naegle, the widower of Bayard Rustin; Selisse Berry, head of Out & Equal; Brad Sears, head of the Williams Institute; Jorge Valencia, head of the point Foundation; and Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson.
Judy and Dennis Shepard, parents of slain gay activist Matthew Shepard, were also at the reenactment, and Judy received a special honor earlier that day, along with Windsor, from Equality Forum, which organized most of the weekend's events. Malcolm Lazin, Equality Forum executive director and chair, National LGBT 50th Anniversary Celebration, spoke at each of his group's events, emphasizing the role Philadelphia played in the national homosexual rights movement.
There were multiple panel discussions during the weekend. On July 2, the National Legal Panel was held at the National Museum of American Jewish History. Panelists scheduled were: Douglas Hallward-Driemeier, Obergefell attorney in the U.S. Supreme Court marriage equality decision; James Esseks, director, ACLU LGBT Project; Brad Sears, executive director, Williams Institute; Jennifer Goldstein, associate general counsel, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC); and Kenji Yoshino, Chief Justice Earl Warren Professor of Constitutional Law, NYU School of Law.
That panel was followed by the National Politics Panel at historic Congress Hall, with Kirk Fordham, executive director, Gill Action Fund; Kate Kendell; Stacey Long Simmons, director of public policy and government affairs, LGBTQ Task Force; and moderator Kevin Naff of the Washington Blade.
On the morning of July 3, a Ceremonial American Flag was placed at the Tomb of Unknown Revolutionary Soldier, at Washington Square. Speakers at the solemn affair were Alva, Holmes, Obergefell and Lazin.
Also July 3, the William Way LGBT Community Center and the Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld Fund hosted an LGBT History Panel Discussion at the National Constitution Center. Pioneers Wicker, Bello, James and Kunstler were on the panel, along with Philadelphia Gay News Publisher Mark Segal, Freedom to Marry President Evan Wolfson, and historians David Carter and Lillian Faderman. Chris Bartlett, executive director of the William Way Center, moderated the discussion.
As with other events, the recent marriage victory in the Supreme Court provided a wonderful bookend to discussions of the fight 50 years ago to today.
Later on July 3, historic Christ Church was the site of a National Interfaith Service with a sermon by Bishop Robinson, the same week that the Episcopal Church approved same-sex marriages in their churches. Robinson, the first ordained openly gay Episcopal Bishop, was joined by Tynan Power, a transgender Muslim faith leader; Rabbi Linda Holtzman, Reconstructionist Rabbinical College; Rabbi Margot Stein, Reconstructionist Rabbinical College; Reverend Timothy Safford, Christ Church; Reverend Jeffrey Jordan, Pastor, Metropolitan Community Church; Reverend Susan Richardson, Christ Church; and "Ave Maria" was sung by Jonathan Allen, a semi-finalist on TV's America's Got Talent.
Robinson also addressed the thousands gathered at Independence Hall the next day for the reenactment.
The evening of July 3, WHYY studios screened the documentary Gay Pioneers. Because I just wrote a recent book about Barbara Gittings, I was honored to moderate a post-film discussion with historians Michael G. Long and Marc Stein, joined by Lazin.
Gittings and Frank Kameny, who have both passed away, were acknowledged at numerous points during the weekend for their leadership roles in the 1960s protests, and many other LGBT causes. After a screening of the documentary Gay Pioneers, the standing-room-only audience at WHYY was eager to discuss the contributions of Gittings and other pioneers, and the role Philadelphia played in the national movement.
Saturday was the big day, with a kick-off luncheon at the Independence Visitor Centerwhich also had a small LGBT exhibit on the first floor of the location. Given that this was such a busy tourist weekend, tens of thousands of people saw LGBT images throughout their visit to Philadelphia at several tourist attractions.
At the luncheon, Windsor and Judy Shepard gave compelling speeches about their paths to working on LGBT issues. Windsor spoke of her 2013 U.S. Supreme Court case that helped strike down a key portion of the Defense of Marriage Act, laying the groundwork for the victory in the Obergefell case this past June. It was amazing to see Windsor speaking as Obergefell himself was standing just a few feet away. Then Shepard spoke eloquently of her work against hate crimes and the tragic loss of her son Matthew.
After the reenactment, Obergefell was presented with the Frank Kameny Award by Equality Forum.
The most elaborate exhibit marking the 50th anniversary was at the National Constitution Center, mounted by the William Way LGBT Community Center. It features the dress worn by Gittings at some of her 1960s protests.The Speaking OUT for Equality exhibit exhibit, up through Jan. 3, 2016, has many other artifacts and photos from the era. Chicagoan William B. Kelley, who died May 17 of this year, had planned to be at the celebrations; his photo and short biography are among the items at the Constitution Center, because he was among the 1965 marchers at Independence Hall.
The Liberty Bell Center in Independence National Historical Park also had a nice visual display from the protests, accompanied by text explaining the fight for LGBT equalityjust steps away from the actual Liberty Bell.
The African American Museum featured the photographs and stories of Gerald Gaskins in "Legendary: Inside the House Ball Scene."
The National Museum of American Jewish History had a small exhibit on Philadelphia's early gay movement, including Kameny, Clark Polak and the Janus Society, and Martha Shelley.
And the Free Library of Philadelphia, Central Library, had an exhibit on Gittings.
The weekend ended with a day-long party in the city's "Gayborhood."
The video playlist below contains multiple videos. Choose Playlist in the top left hand corner to watch videos out of order, if preferred.
50th Anniversary of the Annual Reminders pickets celebrated at Independence Hall, July 4, 2015
Wreath laying honors gay pioneers in Philadelphia, July 2, 2015
Interfaith church service
Jim Obergefell Award in Philadelphia
Politics Panel at LGBT50th
LGBT 50th Philly, Revolutionary War wreath
Judy Shepard and Edie Windsor Award
This article shared 557 times since Thu Jul 9, 2015
Santos voted out of Congress 2023-12-01 Now-former U.S. Rep. George Santos (R-New York) was voted out of Congress on Dec. 1. Santos is the sixth House member in U.S. history to be booted from Congress, and the third since the Civil War, ...
Out sprinter Sha'Carri Richardson receives multiple honors 2023-11-17 Over the past few weeks, LGBTQ+ sprinter Sha'Carri Richardson has received several honors. The city of Dallas honored LGBTQ+ sprinter Sha'Carri Richardsontwice, according to LGBTQ Nation. Her former high school named the track where she ran ...
Rustin film puts a gay pioneer into the spotlight 2023-11-16 The story of activist Bayard Rustin is one that should be told in classrooms everywhere. Instead, because Rustin was an openly same-gender-loving man, his legacy has gone relatively unnoticed outside of LGBTQ+-focused history books. Netflix hopes ...
AVER celebrates LGBTQ+ veterans at annual Veterans Day dinner 2023-11-12 Writer and historian Owen Keehnen was keynote speaker at the the American Veterans for Equal Rights (AVER) Chicago Chapter's 32nd annual LGBTQ Veterans Day Banquet held on Veterans Day at Ann Sather restaurant on Belmont. Keehnen ...
WTTW doc chronicles the activism of Danny Sotomayor 2023-11-03 Practically everything the late Chicago AIDS activist Danny Sotomayor did was "a fight." So says fellow activist Victor Salvo in the new WTTW documentary The Outrage of Danny Sotomayor, which is part of the station's Chicago ...
Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature Publication).
The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.