Barbara Gittings | News | Philadelphia

Philadelphia Dedicates Street to Pioneering Gay Rights Activist Barbara Gittings


Philadelphia dedicated a street to gay rights pioneer Barbara Gittings today, at Locust Street between 12th and 13th streets, in the heart of the city's LGBT neighborhood.

GittingsWrites Bruce Yelk from the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corp, who also sends these photos from today's dedication ceremony:

Known as the Mother of the LGBT Civil Rights Movement, Gittings (July 31, 1932 – February 18, 2007) resided in Philadelphia. She was the editor of the first lesbian publication. With Frank Kameny, she organized the Annual Reminders at Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell, which launched the LGBT civil rights movement.

Gittings spearheaded the successful initiative to have the American Library Association include gay and lesbian books in the nation’s card catalogues and libraries. Kameny and Gittings challenged the American Psychiatric Association, resulting in homosexuality being removed from the list of mental illnesses.

In 2010, Kameny had a street dedicated to him in Washington, D.C.

The Giitings dedication kicks off Equality Forum's LGBT History Month.

Collaborating organizations on the street dedication include Delaware Valley Legacy Fund, Equality PA, Independence Business Alliance, Mazzoni Center, Philadelphia Gay Men’s Chorus, Philadelphia Gay Tourism Caucus, and William Way LGBT Community Center.


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  1. Not only was she a brave pioneer for civil rights (for everybody) she was also a very nice person. I said hello to her a few times on the streets of Center City Philly. I hope she knew that my "hello" was also "thank you".

    Posted by: Derrick from Philly | Oct 1, 2012 3:30:03 PM

  2. Excellent - glad to see this happen. I met Ms. Giddings once or twice during my coming-out years in Philadelphia, the early '70s. She was a dignified, intelligent leader of the quietly revolutionary kind. What a difference one person can make.

    Posted by: PixelWizard | Oct 1, 2012 3:33:19 PM

  3. this is so wonderful. what a vanguard!

    that photo gives me the chills. the courage and bravery of those people, putting a face and name to who we are as a Community all those decades ago, a far more unforgiving time and place.

    truly inspiring. thanks, Lass. well met :)

    Posted by: LittleKiwi | Oct 1, 2012 3:38:24 PM

  4. This is truly fine. But we should lobby to name streets after Baron von Stueben, and Alan Turing, and other gay heroes. It would be great pr.

    Posted by: Wilberforce1 | Oct 1, 2012 3:45:12 PM

  5. Very nice. There are some gay 'icons' who had very checkered histories who don't deserve all the praise lavished on them, she isn't one of them.

    Posted by: ratbastard | Oct 1, 2012 3:47:30 PM

  6. I say scrap the original name and use Barbara Gittings. Isn't a locust a swarming mass of bugs? Yuck... I say make it Gittings Street.

    Posted by: BosGuy | Oct 1, 2012 3:49:53 PM

  7. a street here in Austin was just dedicated to the amazing Betty Naylor

    Posted by: Myackie | Oct 1, 2012 4:10:54 PM

  8. The street is actually named after the locust tree. It joins the other east/west center city tree named streets: Chestnut, Walnut, Spruce and Pine.

    That said, I wouldn't mind the street being named after her at all. She was a lovely, cheery, forceful advocate.

    Posted by: MikeM | Oct 1, 2012 4:53:00 PM

  9. And Cherry, MIKEM, the one north of Market St. that tends to be forgotten. :)

    Posted by: SteveinMaine | Oct 1, 2012 6:19:10 PM

  10. As a former Philadelphian, this moves me with pride.

    Re. streets with tree names -- I always wondered what a Market Tree looked like.

    Posted by: bravo | Oct 1, 2012 8:50:17 PM

  11. Poor Cherry Street - Yes, sorry (and a shout out to Mulberry and Sassafras Sts.).

    Just to belabor this a little more though - it's believed that William Penn named these streets after trees so as to be immodest or so as to not to appear to boast of oneself or another. Such a devout Quaker he was.

    Posted by: MikeM | Oct 2, 2012 3:16:29 PM

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