The Philadelphia fourth of July parade rocks! A true melting pot of contemporary and historic, the parade’s diversity of Americans -representing their cultural groups, countries of origin, historical interests, military and civic service – is stunning.
Especially heartwarming to me was the crowd’s enthusiastic response to the one LGBT float. As it moved down the street, I read part of the panel on back, giving the history of peaceful demonstrations in Philadelphia from 1965. Later I visited lgbt50.org for more details, and learned that:
- In 1965, 40 activists picketed Independence Hall on July 4. It was the largest gay rights demonstration in world history.
- Men and women from DC, Philadelphia and New York participated, choosing July 4 and Indepence Hall as an “Annual Reminder” of the right of all Americans to life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness – and equality.
- The Annual Reminder was suspended in 1970, in order to hold a march in NYC instead, commemorating the first anniversary of Stonewall.
What struck me as I thought of a few dozen people peacefully demonstrating in the mid to late 1960s was the courage it must have taken. The risks of being out publicly included assault, arrest, eviction, being fired, being disowned, and being involuntarily committed for “treatment.” Without their willingness to take those risks, many Americans would not be able to fully participate in the rights and responsibilities as citizens. To me, that makes those activists real patriots.