Metro Weekly

Annise Parker to keynote historic LGBT marker dedication in Philadelphia

Equality Forum to dedicate two LGBT historic sites in Philadelphia, concurrent with Democratic National Convention

Houston Mayor Annise Parker (Credit: Zblume, via Wikimedia Commons).

Houston Mayor Annise Parker (Credit: Zblume, via Wikimedia Commons).

The Equality Forum, the nation’s premier LGBT rights summit, has announced that former Houston Mayor Annise Parker will give the keynote address at the dedication of the Barbara Gittings Residence as a historic marker. The dedication will take place at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, July 26, in Philadelphia, which coincides with the week that Democrats will hold their national convention to nominate Hillary Clinton as their presidential nominee.

“As the nation’s first openly LGBT mayor of a major American city, former Houston Mayor Annise Parker is the right person to be dedicating this historic marker to the ‘Mother of the LGBT civil rights movement,'” Malcolm Lazin, founder and executive director of the Equality Forum, said in a statement.

Gittings, who passed away in 2007, lived in Philadelphia with her partner, Kay Lahusen, and was the editor of The Ladder, the first nationally distributed lesbian magazine, which was published by the Daughters of Bilitis, an organization to which Gittings belonged. Along with Frank Kameny, she organized the Annual Reminders at Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell, a series of pickets by LGBT organizations, which helped launch the LGBT civil rights movement. Gittings also successfully campaigned to urge the American Library Association include gay and lesbian books in the nation’s card catalogues and libraries. Working with Kameny, she also challenged the American Psychiatric Association for its designation of homosexuality as a mental illness, eventually getting the organization to no longer classify same-sex attraction as a disease.

The dedication of Gittings’ residence will feature a special performance by the Anna Crusis Women’s Choir, the oldest existing feminist choir in the United States. Gittings was previously a member of the choir.

The dedication will be the first of two held that week in Philadelphia. On Wednesday, July 27, Equality Forum will hold a dedication and award ceremony at the Arch Street Meeting House. The house was the site of the Philadelphia Conference, where 300 activists from around the country gathered in February 1979 to organize the National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights. The march, which included more than 100,000 people, took place on Oct. 14, 1979, bringing the LGBT rights movement to the attention of the wider public.

John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com