July 2016 is shaping up to be a monumental month for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) residents and visitors in the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection. Philly kicks off the month by loving freedom during the weeklong Independence Day celebration Wawa Welcome America. Next comes qFLIX, a festival of groundbreaking homegrown and international films. And later in the month, the Democratic National Convention (DNC), welcomes the largest-ever group of LGBT convention delegates to Philadelphia, which coincides with dedication ceremonies for two historical markers honoring LGBT pioneers and Equality Forum, the nation’s oldest LGBT rights summit.
Markers Of Pride:
- The Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission honors eminent civil rights activist Barbara Gittings with a marker outside the home she shared with photojournalist partner Kay Lahusen. Considered the mother of the LGBT rights movement, the late Gittings, a Philadelphia resident from age 18, edited the nation’s first lesbian magazine, co-organized the historic Annual Reminders at Independence Hall (see below) and led charges to promote positive LGBT literature in public libraries and to change the American Psychiatric Association’s classification of homosexuality as a mental illness. July 26, 11 a.m. 21st & Locust Streets, equalityforum.com, phmc.pa.gov
- Historic Philadelphia sets the scene for the dedication of a city marker at Arch Street Friends Meeting House, honoring the Philadelphia Conference. The conference took place February 1979 when 300 activists gathered to organize the first National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights. The winter meeting led to a seminal public demonstration of 10,000 people on October 14, 1979. July 27, 11 a.m. 320 Arch Street, equalityforum.com
- The 2016 Democratic National Convention expects record numbers of proud LGBT delegates. How much of a record? Predictions are well in excess of the 550 openly LGBT delegates who attended the 2012 DNC. July 25-28. phldnc.com
- Equality Forum, the nation’s oldest LGBT rights summit, supplements the Democratic National Convention with offsite panels on law, politics and the future of the movement. Forum founder Malcolm Lazin has planned discussions with state representatives, journalists, humanitarians and other newsmakers to focus on state and federal workplace equal protection and transgender equality. July 25-28. National Museum of American Jewish History, 101 S. Independence Mall East, equalityforum.com
- The finale to Equality Forum, the LGBT Champion Awards Ceremony recognizes activists and allies of the LGBT civil rights movement. Two awards include the 21st annual International Role Model Award, the nation’s longest-standing honor to activists and straight allies who have advanced LGBT civil rights, will go to House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi. (Previous honorees include Gavin Newsom, Edie Windsor and Barney Frank.) Next is the Frank Kameny Award, named after the co-founder of the Annual Reminders and leader in the fight to end the federal government’s prohibition on employing gays and lesbians. This award will go to Ed Rendell, former Pennsylvania governor and Philadelphia mayor, and chair of the Philadelphia Host Committee. July 28, 4:30-6 p.m. National Museum of American Jewish History, 101 S. Independence Mall East, equalityforum.com
Also In July:
- Six days of films, some made in Philly, some shot across the globe in China, Trinidad, Australia and Germany, comprise qFLIX, Philly’s edgy LGBT answer to Sundance. The world premiere of People You May Know opens the festival, and the East Coast premiere of Shared Rooms closes it. July 5-10. qflixphilly.com
- It’s not all that French, but it’s certainly fabulous at Eastern State Penitentiary’s cheeky take on Bastille Day. The quintessentially queer Bearded Ladies Cabaret present an hour-long song, dance, watermelon beheading—and the finale flinging of Tastykakes from a tower at this clever community celebration. July 16. 2027 Fairmount Avenue, easternstate.org
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On Greater Philadelphia’s official visitor website and blog, visitphilly.com and uwishunu.com, 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.