NCLR's Kate Kendell Honors Gay Pioneer Barbara Gittings

by Winnie McCroy

EDGE Editor

Tuesday April 14, 2015

The organizers of the National LGBT 50th Anniversary Celebration announced that Kate Kendell, Executive Director, National Center for Lesbian Rights will pay tribute to Gay Pioneer Barbara Gittings at the LGBT 50th Anniversary Ceremony on July 4th at Independence Hall.

"There is no one more deserving than Kate Kendell to honor the work of Barbara Gittings, the mother of the LGBT civil rights movement," said Malcolm Lazin, Chair, National LGBT 50th Anniversary Celebration. "Kate's impressive leadership and activism has changed the legal, policy and legislative landscapes across the nation and globe."

Kendell will pay tribute to Gittings at the one-hour LGBT 50th Anniversary Ceremony on a large stage at Independence Hall on July 4. The Ceremony will commemorate the Gay Pioneers, celebrate 50 years of LGBT civil rights progress, and address future challenge.

"The great gains we have seen as a LGBT movement would not be possible without the visionary genius of Barbara Gittings," said Kendell. "I am so moved to be asked to honor her. She was a mentor to me and an inspiration to multiple generations."

The organized LGBT civil rights movement was launched when activists from New York, Washington D.C., and Philadelphia staged demonstrations for equality each Fourth of July from 1965 to 1969. When 40 activists picketed in front of Independence Hall in 1965, it was the largest demonstration for gay equality in world history. There is a Gay Pioneers historic marker directly across the street from Independence Hall.

Organized by pioneering gay activists Frank Kameny and Barbara Gittings, these "Annual Reminders" laid the groundwork for the Stonewall riot in 1969. After Stonewall, Kameny and Gittings suspended the Annual Reminders and turned their energies to the 1970 march from Greenwich Village to Central Park marking the first anniversary of Stonewall.

From July 2 to 5, in Philadelphia, the National LGBT 50th Anniversary Celebration will be held. The event includes panels, Gay Pioneers screening, fireworks, daily parties, LGBT history exhibits, concerts, a National Interfaith Service, wreath laying at the Gay Pioneers historic marker, and street festival in the gayborhood to highlight the one-hour LGBT 50th Anniversary Ceremony on a large stage in front of Independence Hall on July 4.

The National LGBT 50th Anniversary Celebration is held in historic Congress Hall, where the U.S. House of Representatives first met from 1790 to 1800.

"It is a rare day that Congress Hall is provided. This reflects the pride that Independence National Historical Park and National Park Service take in the organized LGBT civil rights movement having been launched at Independence Hall with picketing demonstrations each July 4th from 1965 to 1969," said Malcolm Lazin, Chair, LGBT 50th Anniversary Celebration.

The National Politics Panel will be moderated by Kevin Naff, Editor, Washington Blade. Panelists include Kirk Fordham, Executive Director, Gill Action Fund, Kate Kendell, Executive Director, National Center for Lesbian Rights, Stacey Long Simmons, Director of Public Policy & Government Affairs, LGBTQ Task Force, and Winnie Stachelberg, Executive Vice President for External Affairs, Center for American Progress.

"The National Politics Panel and LGBT 50th Anniversary events could not be more timely. Our national movement will gather shortly after the Supreme Court decision on marriage equality and at a time when the political landscape for LGBT Americans is dramatically changing," said Lazin.

There is no registration fee and most programs are free and held on or near Independence Mall.

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Winnie McCroy is the Women on the EDGE Editor, HIV/Health Editor, and Assistant Entertainment Editor for EDGE Media Network, handling all women's news, HIV health stories and theater reviews throughout the U.S. She has contributed to other publications, including The Village Voice, Gay City News, Chelsea Now and The Advocate, and lives in Brooklyn, New York.