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    LGBT Philadelphia

    As you watch the Democratic National Convention, July 25–28, consider the following about our nation’s fifth most populous city:

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    Marks of Pride

    ✦ On July 4, 1965, Independence Hall was the site of the United States’ first major LGBT rights demonstration. A state historical marker at 6th and Chestnut Streets commemorates this peaceful protest and the four that followed each July 4 through 1969, known collectively as the Annual Reminders.,

    ✦ Nearly 70 rainbow street signs proudly adorn the Gayborhood, a Center City neighborhood of LGBT restaurants, bars, businesses and homes spanning 11th to Broad Streets and Pine to Chestnut Streets. Another neighborhood notable: rainbow crosswalks, at 13th and Locust Streets.

    ✦ Giovanni’s Room is the longest continuously running LGBT bookstore in the U.S. Opened in 1973, the store served as a refuge and cultural center at the onset of the modern LGBT civil rights movement. Today, a state historical marker honors the landmark. 12th & Pine Streets,

    ✦ A Philadelphian since age 18, the late Barbara Gittings, considered the mother of the LGBT rights movement, and partner Kaya Tobin Lahusen lived in Philadelphia’s Rittenhouse neighborhood while doing their seminal work. One of the picketers at Independence Hall in 1965, Gittings was instrumental in having homosexuality removed from its classification as a mental illness and promoting the inclusion of gay publications in libraries. A state historical marker in her honor is planned near Gittings’ onetime home at 21st and Locust Streets. Event to honor Gittings: July 26 @ 11 am,,

    ✦ In February 1979, Arch Street Friends, a Quaker meetinghouse in Historic Philadelphia, hosted 300 activists to plan the first national demonstration of lesbian and gay rights in Washington, D.C., an October march that attracted 100,000 demonstrators. During the DNC, the city will dedicate a historic marker to honor this meeting: July 27, 11 am, 320 Arch Street,

    ✦ Among the 3,800-some murals created through the city’s acclaimed Mural Arts Program, of special pride in the LGBT community are Pride & Progress at Juniper and Spruce Streets and Tribute to Gloria Casarez at 12th and Locust Streets.

    Other Events & Festivals

    ✦ This year, Philadelphia’s Equality Forum, the nation’s oldest summit devoted to LGBT civil rights, takes place July 25–28, to coincide with the DNC. The free, four-day event—the first of its kind for a national political convention—features panels on law, politics and the future of the movement as well as a ceremony honoring advocates.

    ✦ OutFest, the country’s largest National Coming Out Day event, takes place each fall in Philadelphia on 10 blocks filled with drag shows, pet contests, bar crawls, live music, dancing and shopping. October 9, 2016. Other annual events include:

    ✦ Pride Day LGBT Parade and Festival: A weekend to commemorate and celebrate self and community. Early June.

    ✦ Philadelphia Black Pride Cele-bration: Pioneering multi-day gathering of people of different races, ethnicities and sexual orientations. Late April/early May.

    ✦ qFLIX: Dozens of movie premieres of indie LGBT films in a six-day festival.


    ✦ Favorite Gayborhood after dark hangouts include Woody’s, a bar, coffee shop, nightclub—and requisite first stop on a night out. Sports fans gather to watch games at Tabu. Piano people raise their voices and glasses at Tavern on Camac and Knock. Late-night partiers head to Voyeur, a 20,000-square-foot, multi-level space to dance. Other places to party: Boxers PHL, The Bike Stop, ICandy, Stir Lounge, U Bar and, just across Broad Street, Bob and Barbara’s.

    ✦ Gayborhood dining hot spots include Valanni for Medi-Latin dishes, El Vez for guac and margaritas, Lolita for new Mexican fare (and more margaritas), Mixto for Caribbean and Latin-American cuisine, Tria for wine, beer and great cheese-accented plates, Bud & Marilyn’s for American classics, Amîs for esteemed Roman delights, Vedge and Charlie was a winner for vegan fare, Double Knot for coffee, cocktails and ikzakaya (depending on the time of day), More Than Just Ice Cream for more than just ice cream, Sampan for noodles galore, Zavino for pizza, Barbuzzo for modern Mediterranean, Franky Bradley’s for dinner with a side of dancing, Little Nonna’s for red-sauce Italian and Tredici for refined Italian.

    Philly Firsts

    ✦ The Independence Branch Library of the Free Library of Philadelphia houses the Barbara Gittings Collection of 2,000 books dedicated to gay and lesbian issues, the second-largest such book collection in the U.S.
    18 S. 7th Street,

    ✦ Philadelphia also claims one of the nation’s oldest LGBT weeklies in the Philadelphia Gay News, founded in 1976 by publisher Mark Segal.

    ✦ LGBT city leaders include Nellie Fitzpatrick, director of the Mayor’s Office of LGBT Affairs, and State Representative Brian Sims, the first openly gay member of the Pennsylvania General Assembly.,

    ✦ In 2004, Philadelphia became the first destination in the world to air a gay-themed television commercial, part of Visit Philadelphia’s campaign, Philadelphia—Get Your History Straight and Your Nightlife Gay. The resulting Daily Show With Jon Stewart segment is worth the four and a half minutes.

    ✦ Fun fact: Elton John’s hit Philadelphia Freedom is a tribute to tennis great Billie Jean King and her team, World Team Tennis’ Philadelphia Freedoms.

    Thanks to our friends Jenea Robinson and Arturo Varela at Visit Philadelphia for their help in compiling the above. They are obviously very proud about Philly’s LGBT history and hope that those of us here in the San Francisco Bay Area will consider paying a visit to Philadelphia soon. For more info, please go to