Movements before Stonewall need to be remembered, too.

 

Without a good history lesson, most of us may feel that Stonewall was the first of many demonstrations / fights for our equal rights. NYC has been considered for many years as the birthplace of our fight.  With stories like NYC grants Landmark Status to Stonewall and National Landmark named in Chicago for LGBT past, we are learning of our history and preserving it for others to learn and appreciate. 

I knew about Stonewall, but I didn't know about Chicago.  I also didn't know about Philadelphia and their "Annual Reminders."

On July 4, 1965,

-a group of courageous gay and lesbian activists from New York, Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia laid the foundation for the organized LGBT civil rights movement with demonstrations in front of Independence Hall.

Known as "Annual Reminders," these protests of East Coast Homophile Organizations (ECHO) occurred every Fourth of July from 1965 to 1969.

In 2015 we proudly commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Annual Reminders, the Gay Pioneers who staged them, and a half century of LGBT civil right progress. – lgbt50.org

 

No, this is not an argument to see which city battled for our rights first, but more importantly pointing out that the fight was not just one place or one person, but many people, many places, and many hearts. LGBT50.org does point out there were other protests and movements before the 1965 and these most likely gave courage to the Philadelphia protesters.

What Makes the Annual Reminders So Significant

In the 1960s, there were approximately 200 gay activists in the nation. There were protests in late 1964 and early 1965 in Washington, D.C., and in New York about an individual issue, such as Fidel Castro rounding up homosexuals, the Civil Service Commission’s prohibition against the federal government employing gay or lesbian Americans, or military discharges.

  The Annual Reminders were seminal for the following reasons:

  • They were not tied to a specific event. In 1965 it was the first time demonstrators demanded equality for homosexuals.
  • In 1965 when 40 activists picketed, it was the largest demonstration for gay rights in world history. 
  • The protests were a collaboration of the East Coast Homophile Organizations (ECHO).
  •  Gay men and lesbians from Washington, D.C., Philadelphia and New York participated. It was the first time activists from more than one city came together in protest.
  • Held each July 4th from 1965 to 1969, the Annual Reminders were the movement’s first sustained gay rights demonstrations. 
  • Frank Kameny and Barbara Gittings, the father and mother of the organized LGBT civil rights movement, were the principal organizers.
  • The Annual Reminders were planned strategically on Independence Day at Independence Hall, where the Liberty Bell then resided, and where the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were written—documents that proclaimed the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and equality.
  •  The Liberty Bell was adopted as a logo by abolitionists and, later, by suffragettes. The Liberty Bell linked the Gay Pioneers' aspirations with the black and women’s civil rights movements.
  • In 1969 when the Stonewall riot occurred, the Gay Pioneers recognized it as the movement’s Boston Tea Party. Leaders suspended the Annual Reminders to help organize a march from Greenwich Village to Central Park, marking the first anniversary of Stonewall. The march is now remembered as the first New York Pride Parade. – lgbt50.org

Frank Kameny – Gay Pioneer / Father of the LGBT Civil Rights Movement has been quoted saying “Without our demonstrations starting in ’65, Stonewall would not have happened.” 

I'm not going to agree or disagree with him, but I think it is wonderful that we are able to learn more and more about hour history and have 50th anniversary celebrations.  It makes me wonder, 50 years from now, will we be having celebrations of the SCOTUS ruling or will everything be so equal we won't even think of it.  Will there be a 50th Anniversary celebration in two years to remember Loving v Virginia?

To our "family members" and all of our supporters in Philadelphia, enjoy the celebration!

If you want to know more about the goings on in Philly this weekend and see more pictures, go to these two sites.

phillymag.com,   phillygaypride.com

 

 

What do you think?