Gay Pioneers is the story of the first organized annual “homosexual” civil rights demonstrations held in Philadelphia, New York and Washington, DC from 1965-69. When few would publicly identify themselves as gay, these brave pioneers challenged pervasive homophobia.
On July 4, 1965, forty (40) people carried signs in front of Independence Hall supporting gay emancipation. Each year in NY, DC and Philadelphia their numbers grew. By July 4, 1969, one month after Stonewall one hundred and fifty (150) people demonstrated at Independence Hall. The annual demonstrations were consolidated in 1970 to mark the first anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. That led to the then largest gathering for gays and lesbians when between two to five thousand people congregated in New York’s Central Park. The 1970 demonstration encouraged activists to stage the first gay pride parade in NYC. The New York Pride Parade was emulated in large and small cities in North America and worldwide and helped catapult an international civil rights movement.
Gay Pioneers is directed by PBS award-winning documentary filmmaker Glenn Holsten and produced by PBS affiliate WHYY and Equality Forum. It is about the gay and lesbian Rosa Parks. Gay Pioneers braids archival footage from these seminal demonstrations; FBI investigative files obtained under the Freedom of Information Act; gay pioneer interviews about the homophobia of that era, the protocol for the demonstrations and how those demonstrations impacted the movement and Barbara Gittings, Frank Kameny and Lilli Vincenz on-camera in 2004 discussing same-sex marriage.
Visit Website: www.gaypioneers.com
Lesson Plan: Available here through GLSEN (pdf)