Oxfam America
October, 18 2004
 12:37 AM
CONTACT:  Equality Forum
Michael Pomante, 215-732-3378 x 15 or 610-308-1441 (cell), or Malcolm Lazin, 215-732-7375 or 215-850-8751
National Gay and Lesbian 40th Anniversary Celebration in Philadelphia
Independence Hall, May 1, 2005
PHILADELPHIA, October 18, 2004 - Equality Forum announced that the 40th Anniversary Celebration of the gay and lesbian civil rights movement will be held in Philadelphia at Independence National Historical Park on Sunday, May 1, 2005, as part of Equality Forum 2005 (April 25 to May 1).

"On July 4, 1965, in front of Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell 40 courageous activists demonstrated for gay and lesbian civil rights. These Pioneers cracked the cocoon of invisibility and started a national and international civil rights movement," stated Sally Susman, national co-chair, 40th Anniversary Celebration.

"On Sunday, May 1, 2005, with Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell Pavilion as the back-drop, we will honor 40 heroes, who over the past 40 years have made a defining difference for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) civil rights movement," said Jonathan Capehart, national co-chair, 40th Anniversary Celebration. "The Celebration will also include entertainers, speakers, programs on Independence Mall (Independence Hall to the National Constitution Center), large street festival, continuous screenings of Gay Pioneers, 40 Equality Forum rainbow flags along Independence Mall and a closing concert."

"Our role model for this celebration is Bayard Rustin, a colleague of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. Bayard was a gay African American who organized the National Demonstration at the Lincoln Memorial in 1963. That demonstration helped define the African American civil rights movement. At the 40th Anniversary Celebration, Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell will symbolize our quest for full equality," stated Malcolm Lazin, Executive Director, Equality Forum. "The Gay Pioneers chose this iconic site in 1965 to launch the movement. There is no better location than where our Declaration of Independence and Constitution were written and home of the beacon of freedom, the Liberty Bell."

"Equality Forum 2005 from April 25 to May 1 in Philadelphia will have over 60 events with 100 regional, national and international organizations participating. There is no registration fee and all substantive programs are free," stated Joseph Farrell, chair, Board of Directors. "We promise a week of impressive programs and celebratory events."

"We have obtained a permit from Independence National Historical Park, National Park Service," said Abbe Fletman, Regional Co-Chair. "We thank Mary Bomar, superintendent, Independence National Historical Park for embracing the 40th anniversary as an important part of the Park's history."

"We are grateful to U.S. Senator Arlen Specter, Congressman Robert Brady, Governor Ed Rendell and Mayor Street for their written support of the permit," said Michael Williams, Regional Co-Chair. "We take great pride that Philadelphia is the birthplace of our nation and the GLBT civil rights movement".

In July 2004, Equality Forum premiered "Gay Pioneers", a documentary about these seminal annual demonstrations in 1965 to 1969 in Philadelphia, New York and Washington.

"Almost no public school and few colleges teach gay history. 'Gay Pioneers' is about our civil rights. It is an inspiring film. Through grants 'Gay Pioneers' is being sent without charge to 2,600 GSAs, every LGBT community center and GLBTQ youth center and over 150 collegiate LGBT organizations," stated Malcolm Lazin.

"In 2003, Philadelphia launched a national campaign to attract GLBT tourism. Our motto is 'Get your history straight and your nightlife gay'. We promise the national and international GLBT community that Philadelphia lives up to its billing as the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection," stated Tami Sortman, chair, Philadelphia Gay Tourism Caucus.

Equality Forum's mission is to advance national and international GLBT civil rights. Equality Forum undertakes high impact initiatives, produces documentary films and presents the largest annual national and international GLBT civil rights forum.