Organizers of the National LGBT 50th Anniversary Celebration announced Thursday that entertainer and advocate Wanda Sykes will MC the National LGBT 50th Anniversary Ceremony on July 4 at Independence Hall.
“We are tremendously excited to have Wanda Sykes, an outspoken and committed LGBT advocate, as the Master of Ceremonies for the National LGBT 50th Anniversary Ceremony,” said Malcolm Lazin, National LGBT 50th Anniversary Chair. “This historic one-hour Ceremony, in front of Independence Hall, commemorates the Gay Pioneers, celebrates 50 years of LGBT civil rights progress, and addresses future challenges. Wanda is a perfect MC. We are grateful to Live Nation Philadelphia and their President, Geoff Gordon, for their assistance.”
An award-winning writer, actress and comedienne, Sykes came out publicly in 2008 at a Proposition 8 rally In Las Vegas. In 2010, Sykes was presented with the Stephen F. Kolzak Award by GLAAD for making a significant difference in promoting equal rights for the LGBT community in the media. Wanda is a 2011 LGBT History Month Icon.
The organized LGBT civil rights movement was launched when activists from New York, Washington D.C. and Philadelphia staged demonstrations for equality at Independence Hall each Fourth of July from 1965 to 1969. When 40 activists first picketed in front of Independence Hall on July 4, 1965, it was the largest demonstration for gay equality in world history.
Organized by the father and mother of the LGBT civil rights movement, Frank Kameny and Barbara Gittings, these “Annual Reminders” laid the groundwork for the Stonewall riot in 1969. After Stonewall, Kameny and Gittings suspended the Annual Reminders and turned their energies to help organize the 1970 march from Greenwich Village to Central Park for the first anniversary of Stonewall.
From July 2-5 in Philadelphia, the National LGBT 50th Anniversary Celebration includes panels, Gay Pioneers screening, fireworks, daily parties, six LGBT history exhibits, concerts, National Interfaith Service, wreath laying at the Gay Pioneers historic marker, and street festival in the gayborhood with the highlight the one-hour National LGBT 50th Anniversary Ceremony on a large stage in front of Independence Hall on July 4.
There is no registration fee and most programs are free.