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Releases: Expanded View

Mar 4 2015

Philadelphia Marks 50 Years Of LGBT Activism

A Year of Exhibitions, Re-enactments & Special Events Celebrate 50th Anniversary Of Pivotal Independence Mall Demonstrations

Philadelphia celebrates five decades of political progress with the 50th Anniversary of the Gay Rights Movement. Commemorative exhibitions at major institutions and a moving re-enactment of the original Fourth of July demonstration honor the milestone year.

Now one of the country’s leading gay-friendly destinations, the City of Brotherly Love played a pivotal role in the earliest days of the American gay-rights movement. The first organized recurring U.S. protest for LGBT equality took place in front of Independence Hall on July 4, 1965. Coordinated by Philadelphia resident Barbara Gittings and Washingtonian Frank Kameny, now known as the mother and father of gay rights, the protest marked the first time activists from multiple cities openly identified themselves as gay and called for equality. The “Annual Reminder” took place every Independence Day for five years.

On June 28, 1969—days before the last Annual Reminder—the Stonewall riots in New York City shook the LGBT community. Leaders who were influential in the Philadelphia protests focused their efforts on the Christopher Street Liberation Day, which marked the first anniversary of the Stonewall riots and included the country’s first Gay Pride parade.

Here’s a look at Philadelphia’s yearlong 50th Anniversary of the Gay Rights Movement:

Ongoing Exhibitions:

  • The Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia puts unpublished works and handwritten notes by Oscar Wilde on public display for the first time in Everything is Going on Brilliantly: Oscar Wilde and Philadelphia. The exhibition focuses on Wilde’s life and work and highlights his connections and influence in Philadelphia. Believed to be either homosexual or bisexual, Wilde gave a series of lectures throughout the area in 1882, and in many ways, he never left. Through April 26, 2015. 2008-2010 Delancey Place, (215) 732-1600,
  • The National Museum of American Jewish History will uncover Jewish stories in the movement for LGBT rights through a special installation. Public programs will focus on the Jewish LGBT experience in America. The museum also invites people to share their own Jewish LGBT stories through a Tumblr project ( April-August 2015, exact dates TBD. 101 S. Independence Mall East, (215) 923-3811,
  • At the National Constitution Center, Speaking Out for Equality: The Constitution, Gay Rights, and the Supreme Court explores the gay-rights movement through the constitutional “conversations” that have framed the struggle for equality. Supreme Court cases and public discourse reflect the national mood at various points along the journey. June 5, 2015-January 3, 2016. 525 Arch Street, (215) 409-6700,
  • The paintings and drawings of Philadelphia-born José Luis Cortes, one of the earliest out Puerto Rican artists, depict New York City’s gay scene. Taller Puertorriqueño mounts an exhibition of his works in En Blanco y Negro (In Black and White): A Gay-Latino Perspective. In conjunction, the Puerto Rican cultural center will host an artist residency program and workshops for Taller’s students working with youth from GALAEI, a local LGBTQ youth center. The accompanying panel discussion, entitled A Gay-Latino Perspective (June 20), features the voices of LGBT Latinos in Philadelphia and artist Jose Luis Cortes, who will explore his experiences of growing up in Philadelphia, working as an artist in New York City and now residing in Puerto Rico. June 12-July 25, 2015. 2721 N. 5th Street, (215) 426-3311,
  • Through the photographs of Gerard H. Gaskin, The African American Museum in Philadelphia’s Legendary captures the culture of “house balls.” These parties, popular in the African-American and Latino gay and transgender communities, allowed marginalized groups to embrace and showcase their most vibrant selves in a safe space. Evidenced by the photos, the “house balls” were full of artistry and self-fashioning. June 12-August 16, 2015. 701 Arch Street, (215) 574-0380,
  • The Free Library of Philadelphia’s LGBTQ Library Activism exhibition emanates from the 1960s protests led by Barbara Gittings, founding coordinator of the American Library Association’s Gay Task Force. It will feature moments from her life including her first protest march at Independence Hall 50 years ago. Also on display: books and materials important in the life of the LGBTQ community from the pre-Stonewall era to today. The exhibit will be displayed in the Parkway Central Library’s West Corridor. June 22-August 14, 2015. 1901 Vine Street, (215) 686-5322,
  • Independence National Historical Park Rangers and LGBT volunteers present an annual program that explores the role of Independence Hall in historical movements for social change, including the Reminder Day demonstrations. Taking place at the Independence Visitor Center, this year’s Independence Hall and the History of Gay Rights in Philadelphia will highlight the significance of 1960s Reminder Day demonstrations in LGBT history—both for Philadelphia and the country. June 2015, exact date TBD. 6th & Market Streets, (215) 965-2305,
  • This year’s annual symposium on LGBT regional history, Fighting Back: Defending the LGBT Mind and Body in Pennsylvania focuses on health activism and the LGBT community. At the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, speakers will examine the 1970s struggle to remove the mental illness stigma imposed by the American Psychiatric Association, as well as the contributions to the field made by Temple University psychiatrist John Fryer. They’ll also cover early AIDS history in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. In conjunction, the William Way LGBT Community Center will host an exhibit examining the work of AIDS activist Kiyoshi Kuromiya. October 18-19, 2015. Historical Society, 1300 Locust Street, (215) 732-6200,; William Way, 1315 Spruce Street, (215) 732-2220,

Free Events Over Fourth of July Weekend:

Thursday, July 2:

  • Nationally renowned legal experts will discuss the state of gay rights across the country as part of a National Legal Panel at the National Museum of American Jewish History. 6:30-7:45 p.m. Later that night, the museum moves from serious to seriously fun for its LGBT Party. 10:00-11:30 p.m. 101 S. Independence Mall East, (215) 923-3811,
  • Political analysts take the stage for a National Politics Panel at Congress Hall, where Congress held its first sessions from 1790 to 1800. 8:15-9:30 p.m. 6th & Chestnut Streets, (215) 965-2305,

Friday, July 3:

  • The first openly gay Episcopal bishop, Bishop Gene Robinson will deliver a sermon during a National Interfaith Service at Christ Church, where George Washington and Betsy Ross once worshipped. 4:00-5:00 p.m. 20 N. American Street, (215) 922-1695,
  • The local NPR and PBS affiliate, WHYY will screen Gay Pioneers. The documentary about the Annual Reminders explains how the Philadelphia protests laid the groundwork for Stonewall in 1969. A sure-to-be-insightful discussion will follow. 7:00-8:30 p.m. 150 N. 6th Street, (215) 351-1200,
  • The Live Nation 50th Anniversary Concert goes down at the Festival Pier at Penn’s Landing. Performers to be announced. 8:00 p.m. Columbus Boulevard & Spring Garden Street,

Saturday, July 4:

  • The annual Celebration of Freedom Ceremony at Independence Hall, part of the city’s Wawa Welcome America! Fourth of July bash, marks the nation’s birthday with music, speeches and readings from the Declaration of Independence. This year’s event will pay homage to the Reminder Day demonstrations. 10:00 a.m. Later in the day, Equality Forum will host the official 50th Anniversary Ceremony, complete with a stirring re-enactment. 3:00-4:00 p.m. Chestnut Street between 5th & 6th Streets,
  • A wreath-laying ceremony will commemorate the protests at the Gay Rights Demonstrations Historical Marker, which was erected 10 years ago for the 40th anniversary of the first Reminder Day. 2:00-2:30 p.m. 6th & Chestnut Streets

Sunday, July 5:

  • The Annual Reminder Block Party takes over Philadelphia’s famed Gayborhood. Vendors, food, music and plenty of pro-gay organizations will celebrate half a century of progress. Noon-6:00 p.m. 12th & Walnut Streets,

VISIT PHILADELPHIA® makes Philadelphia and The Countryside® a premier destination through marketing and image building that increases the number of visitors, the number of nights they stay and the number of things they do in the five-county area.

On Greater Philadelphia’s official visitor website and blog, and, visitors can explore things to do, upcoming events, themed itineraries and hotel packages. Compelling photography and videos, interactive maps and detailed visitor information make the sites effective trip-planning tools. Along with Visit Philly social media channels, the online platforms communicate directly with consumers. Travelers can also call and stop into the Independence Visitor Center for additional information and tickets.

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Related Releases

Jun 18 2015

Philadelphia Rocks The Fourth With 48 Hours Of Fun

National LGBT 50th Anniversary Celebration Adds Rainbow Colors To Red, White & Blue Festivities

As the calendar zooms towards Independence Day, Philadelphia, where the nation was born 239 years ago, revs up for a full week of flag-waving, heart-swelling, hand-clapping, patriotic fun. The annual Wawa Welcome America! celebration lasts for an entire week, and come Friday, July 3, the revelry really picks up with 48 hours of fun. That means patriotic ceremonies, parades, concerts, fireworks and festivities that mark the 50th anniversary of a protest demonstration that laid the groundwork for LGBT civil rights. Here’s a look at what’s happening on July 3 and 4:

July 3:

  1. Visitors are free to celebrate
Jun 4 2015

Now Playing In Philadelphia: Big Events & Openings

Tall Ships, World Meeting Of Families, Liberty One Observation Deck, Alice In Wonderland & More Pack The Calendar

With 2015 comes plenty of reasons for visitors to plan a trip to Philadelphia. In fact, The New York Times ranked Philly at the #3 spot in its influential article of the
“52 Places to Go in 2015.”

So what’s on the calendar for the rest of the year? The Tall Ships festival, showing off a dozen historic ships on the Delaware River waterfront; Discovering the Impressionists: Paul Durand-Ruel and the New Painting, featuring 80 works by a who’s-who of painters at the Philadelphia Museum of Art; and Down the Rabbit Hole: Celebrating 150 Years of Alice in Wonderland at

Apr 1 2015

Summer 2015: A Blockbuster Season Of Fun In Philly

In Store: Tall Ships, Bike Share, Beer Gardens, Impressionists, Pop-up Parks & Festivals Galore

What are some other words for summer fun? Tall Ships. Fireworks. Festivals. Beer gardens. Pop-up parks. Philadelphia. This summer will go down as a season of non-stop, pull-out-all-the-stops fun in the city that scored a #3 placement on The New York Times’ influential “52 Places to Go in 2015” list.

Some of the summer highlights include the Tall Ships Philadelphia Camden festival; the launch of Indego, Philadelphia’s bike-sharing program; the eagerly awaited return of the acclaimed Spruce Street Harbor Park; and the season-long showing of Discovering the Impressionists: Paul Durand-Ruel and the New Painting at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Apr 7 2011

Backgrounder: Gay-friendly Philly

LGBT Visitors To Philadelphia Get Their History Straight, Their Nightlife Gay, Their Dining Delicious & Their Shopping Tax-Free

Philadelphia, which recently marked the 40th anniversary of its vibrant Gayborhood, continues to come out as one of the nation’s top travel destinations for gay and lesbian visitors. As reflected in its award-winning Philadelphia – Get Your History Straight and Your Nightlife Gay® campaign, the region has become the place to learn about America’s past by day and to experience a little of the party life by night. Philadelphia is now tied for the #9 spot on the list of most-visited gay and lesbian destinations on Community Marketing, Inc.’s annual LGBT Tourism Study, and it’s tied for #2 among

May 29 2009

Plenty To Do In Philly Before And After The Galileo Exhibition

After Star-gazing With Galileo, Museum-goers Can Find More Fun In Philly

After exploring the Galileo, the Medici and the Age of Astronomy exhibition, appearing only in Philadelphia, only in 2009 (April 4 through September 7, 2009 at The Franklin Institute Science Museum), visitors are encouraged to spend a night or two and enjoy other exhibitions and events in the region. Here’s a look at what’s going on while Galileo’s in town:

Fun Art And Culture:

  • The popular three-day West Oak Lane Jazz & Arts Festival—now in its sixth year—features all types of jazz alongside visual artists, craft vendors and more. This year’s lineup features WAR, Jeffrey Osbourne, Average
Jan 23 2008

Philadelphia's Top News And Events For 2008

History, Museums, Sports, Music And More In 2008


  • Please Touch Museum and Centennial District – When it opens on October 18, 2008, the children’s museum’s new location in Fairmount Park’s Memorial Hall—a National Historic Landmark built in 1876 for the Centennial Exhibition—will boast three times more space for exhibitions and programs. Just outside the museum, kids and adults will also delight in riding the meticulously restored 1908 Woodside Park Dentzel Carousel. (215) 963-0667,
  • President’s House – Within close view of Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell Center, the President’s House Commemorative Site, to be erected in 2009, will mark the location of the nation’s
Jan 30 2018

Philadelphia Celebrates Black History Month

Exhibitions, Performances and Special Program Highlight Philly’s Month of Activities

Black History Month celebrates its 42nd anniversary this year, and Philadelphia honors the occasion with special events, exhibitions, film screenings and family activities. Philadelphia’s Black History Month features the nation’s longest running African American Children’s Book Fair; Black Pulp!, a new exhibition at The African American Museum in Philadelphia, and Henry “Box” Brown: The Musical, starring Dice Raw. Here are highlights of Philly’s Black History Month:

Museum Happenings:

  • The African American Museum in Philadelphia (AAMP) hosts the regional debut of Black Pulp!, curated by William Villalongo and Mark Thomas Gibson. This visual overview offers up printed works by
Nov 30 2017

Winter: A Season Of Cheer & Queer In Philadelphia

JUNK Sizzles With Holiday Sex Appeal & Martha Rings In Winter Solstice

The temperatures may be dropping, but LGBT entertainment in Philly this winter is anything but chilly. Highlights of the season’s rock-star arts lineup includes standup from Queer As Folk alum Hal Sparks and The Killers’ sure-to-be-electric concert. If an edgier take on the season is the craving, Philly drag darling Martha Graham Cracker ushers in the winter solstice with a Choral Spectacular at FringeArts, choreographer Brian Sanders’ Adult Swim spins holiday traditions by marrying sex appeal and dumpster diving, and, now in its 20th year, the venerable, 20-year-old tradition of GayBINGO! puts on its beloved Christmas edition.

To maximize

Sep 5 2017

Fall: A Great Time To Be Out In Philadelphia

OutFest, Plus A Trans-Inclusive Opera & Halloween Events Round Out The Season

Leaves may fall, but LGBT culture blooms this time of year in Philadelphia. Opera Philadelphia brings groundbreaking drama We Shall Not Be Moved, with a transgender main character and Bill T. Jones as choreographer, to the Wilma Theater in September. The annual OutFest unites the Gayborhood in October. Margaret Cho comes to The Fillmore Philadelphia in November. And, of course, “Gay Christmas”—also known as Halloween—is done right with Tabu Lounge & Bar’s Little Shop of Poppers zany take on Little Shop of Horrors, LGBT Night at Terror Behind the Walls and a special screening of Hocus Pocus at