The Annual Reminder: A Gay Rights Milestone

At one o’clock in the afternoon on Sunday, July 4th, 1965, a group of 40 courageous women and men assembled before Independence Hall. They had come from New York and Washington D.C. to join Philadelphians in the first of five "Annual Reminders”— the earliest organized, recurring demonstrations for gay rights in America. Their inspirational leadership played a pivotal role in defining and developing a national LGBT civil rights movement.

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The Annual Reminders
2015 marks the 50th anniversary of the first of these momentous Annual Reminders.

To celebrate, a diverse group of activists and community leaders has been meeting under the leadership of the William Way LGBT Community Center to plan a commemoration of this gay rights milestone and to celebrate Philadelphia's role in the national gay rights movement. We're partnering with organizations around the city to present a year long program of events, exhibits, symposiums and lectures that will include a major exhibit at the National Constitution Center called "Speaking Out for Equality" that explores the dramatically evolving relationship between gay rights and the American Constitution.

Watch this site for updates on this exciting project, for news from our partner organizations and for ways that you can be involved.

Click here to learn more about the exhibit "Speaking Out for Equality."
Reminder 2015
The African American Museum in Philadelphia - Asian Arts Initiative - The Attic Youth Center - Eastern State Penitentiary - Equality Forum - The Free Library of Philadelphia - The Friends Select School - GALAEI - The Historical Society of Pennsylvania - Independence National Historic Park - The Independence Visitor Center - The Kimmel Center - The Library Company of Philadelphia - The Mazzoni Center - Mural Arts Program - The National Constitution Center - The National Museum of American Jewish History - PFLAG Philadelphia - Philadelphia Dance Projects - The Philadelphia Theatre Company - Taller Puertorriqueño

Click here for more information on partner programs.
Reminder 2015 Partners

July 4, 1965

First Annual Reminder Day demonstration takes place at Independence Hall. 7 women and 33 men participate.

July 4, 1966

Second Annual Reminder Day demonstration takes place at Independence Hall. Approximately 50 people march.

July 4, 1967

Third Annual Reminder Day demonstration at Independence Hall
. Approximately 30 people march.

July 4, 1968

Fourth Annual Reminder Day demonstration at Independence Hall. Approximately 75 people march.    

August 14, 1968

NACHO, the North American Conference of Homophile Organizations, adopts Frank Kameny’s “Gay is Good” as its slogan.

June 28, 1969

The Stonewall Riots take place in New York City, marking the escalation of the LGBT rights movement. The riots last for three days and draw thousands of protesters.

July 4, 1969

Fifth and last Annual Reminder Day demonstration at Independence Hall. Approximately 150 people march. In November, activists meet to reassess the focus of the LGBT movement. As a result of the Stonewall Riots, they decide to move the annual demonstrations from Philadelphia to New York City.

February 19, 1970

A Federal Grand Jury indicts Philadelphia activist Clark Polak on 21 counts of using the mail to distribute obscene material.

June 28, 1970

America’s first gay pride event, the Christopher Street Liberation Day Parade in New York, commemorates the first anniversary of the Stonewall Riots

October 10, 1971

Seven lesbians, including Philadelphian Barbara Gittings appear on the nationally televised David Susskind Show.

June 11, 1972

June 11, 1972

Philadelphia’s first Gay Pride Parade begins in Rittenhouse Square and ends in a rally in front of  Independence Hall.

August 1, 1973

Bernie Boyle, Tom Wilson Weinberg and Dan Sherbo open Giovanni’s Room book store at 232 South St.

October 15, 1973

The National Gay Task Force
 is formed.

April 5, 1974

The first issue of the Weekly Philadelphia Gayzette, edited by Tom Wilson, is published. It sells for 10 cents.

April 9, 1974

After the trustees of the American Psychiatric Association remove homosexuality from the “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders” by a 13-0 vote, the decision is confirmed by a vote of the membership.

May 12, 1974

The Inquirer publishes a sensationalistic article called “The Gay Revolution in the Cradle of Liberty.” Gay community protests lead to the formation of the Gay Media Project.

August 15, 1975

The Gay Activists Alliance rallies at Philadelphia City Hall to protest police harassment.

December 4, 1975

Lesbian activist group Dyketactics forms to push for the passage of Bill 1275 to outlaw discrimination in Philadelphia based on sexual orientation.

February 28, 1975

The Gay Community Center of Philadelphia is incorporated. The first center building opens a year later at 325 Kater St.  

January 3, 1976

Mark Segal begins publishing the Philadelphia Gay News.  

August 27, 1976

The first organizational meeting of Parents of Gays is called at the Gay Community Center. In June of 1985, the organization changes its name to PFLAG, “Parents & Friends of Lesbians and Gays.”

July 11, 1977

Rev. Don Borbe of the Metropolitan Community Church debates gay rights with fundamentalist Rev. Carl McIntire at Independence Park before the Liberty Bell.

October 2, 1979

Walter Lear and others from the Gay Community Center organize Lavender Health to address the needs of the lesbian and gay community in Philadelphia. In 1981 Lavender Health becomes Philadelphia Community Health Alternatives and in 2003, PCHA becomes the Mazzoni Center.

October 14, 1979

The first National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights draws about 100,000 participants.

December 3, 1979

In the spring of 1978, four lesbians and four gay men form the Philadelphia Gay Task Force with a grant from the Christian Association of the University of Pennsylvania. In December of 1979, Rita Adessa becomes Executive Director of what is now the Philadelphia Lesbian and Gay Task Force.

August 5, 1982

Philadelphia City Council adoptss an ordinance prohibiting discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations based on sexual orientation

October 11, 1987

The Second National March on Washington on Washington protests the government’s inaction to the AIDS crisis and the Supreme Court decision in Bowers v. Hardwick.  Events include the first public display of the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt.

June 18, 1989

After a hiatus of more than 10 years, Philadelphia’s Lesbian & Gay Pride Parade is revived. Later that year, community members form Lesbian & Gay Pride of the Delaware Valley. It continues today as Philly Pride Presents which organizes Pride Day in June and Outfest in October.  

May 7, 1993

The first PrideFest is celebrated, co-chaired by Donna Gallagher and Malcolm Lazin. In 2003, it becomes Equality Forum.

September 21, 1996

President Clinton signs the Defense of Marriage Act.

April 24, 1998

The first Philadelphia Dyke March goes from Kahn Park to Independence Park.  

April 22, 1999

Philadelphia’s first Black Gay Pride event.

June 26, 2003

With the Lawrence v. Texas decision, the Supreme Court strikes down all state anti-sodomy laws.

November 13, 2003

The Greater Philadelphia Tourism Management Corp. and the Gay Tourism Caucus launch the country’s first gay tourism campaign using the slogan “Get your history straight and your nightlife gay.”    

July 1, 2005

A state historical marker is dedicated at 6th and Chestnut Streets near Independence Hall to commemorate the Reminder Day demonstrations.

April 18, 2007

Mayor John Street dedicates 36 rainbow street signs in Philadelphia’s Gayborhood to symbolize the city’s commitment to diversity and inclusiveness. 32 more were added in 2010.

October 8, 2011

Philadelphia’s first Trans March assembles at Love Park.

October 1, 2013

The City of Philadelphia dedicates the section of Locust Street from 12th to 13th Streets as Barbara Gittings Way to honor this gay pioneer.

June 26, 2013

The Supreme Court strikes down the Defense of Marriage Act.

May 20, 2014

Marriage equality becomes the law in Pennsylvania.


50th anniversary celebration of the first Reminder Day demonstration.   The Gay Community Center of Philadelphia, now operating as the William Way Community Center, celebrates its 40th anniversary.