On July 4, 1965, the very first LGBT rights demonstrations in the United States were held in front of Independence Hall in Philadelphia. They paved the way for the 1969 Stonewall riots and the modern-day gay pride parade. Now, Philadelphia is recognizing the 50th anniversary of these very important demonstrations with a weekend filled with history, remembrance, friends andfun.
Starting on Thursday, July 2, and running through Sunday, July 5, there will be special exhibits detailing the past 50 years of the LGBT civil rights struggle at three area museums: the National Constitution Center, the National Museum of American Jewish History, and the Independence Visitor Center.
The National Museum of American Jewish History will be hosting a star-studded 50th anniversary party on Thursday, July 2, starting at 10 p.m. On Friday, July 3, there will be a special screening of the documentary Gay Pioneers, based on the 1965 demonstrations. It will be shown at the WHYY-TV studios at 6 p.m., and following the screening there will be a panel discussion, moderated by Tracy Baim, editor-in-chief of the Windy City Times. Also on Friday, there will be a big 50th Anniversary Concert featuring many of your favorite international recording artists. It will be held at Festival Pier at Penn’s Landing starting at 7 p.m.
On Saturday, July 4, there will be a wreath laying ceremony at 2 p.m. at the gay pioneers historical marker on Independence Mall, followed by the big event at 3 p.m. in front of Independence Hall. There will be speakers, choruses from across the country, entertainment and special guests. The presenters are Kate Kendell, Executive Director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, and Aisha Moodie-Mills, President of the Victory Fund and Institute.
Each night there will be a number of parties at bars and nightclubs in Philadelphia’s Gayborhood, which is spread out between Chestnut and Pine Streets between 11th and Broad Streets. Hotel Monaco and the Omni Hotel and Resort are located in the Gayborhood and are offering discounts to people coming for the celebrations. Mention “Equality Forum” when reserving your room to get a group discount.
For more information on the 50th Anniversary of the LGBT Rights Movement in Philadelphia, visit lgbt50.org.