Sunday Spotlight… The Rainbow Crosswalk

We hope you enjoyed your 4th of July holiday yesterday. This week we talked about pride and independence mainly as they relate to gay rights and the gay community in and around Philadelphia. If you missed our special feature LGBT50 event calendar earlier this week, you can find it here. Today in our Sunday Spotlight we’re introducing you to Philly’s Rainbow Crosswalk.

crosswalksWe talked to Fran Price to get the details on where it is, what it is, and why you should check it out. Price is the Executive Director Of Philly Pride Presents, Inc. Philly Pride is an organization that with the help of volunteer coordinators, holds pride events in the city of Philadelphia, the purpose of which is “the advancement of LGBT rights through the visibility and awareness that the parades and festivals create.”

Let me first ask you where the crosswalk is located?
“13th and Locust. Right in the heart of the Gayborhood.”

For those who aren’t familiar, what area encompasses the Gayborhood?
“It’s basically from 11th street to Broad st., actually to Juniper St. And from Walnut (though by some accounts Chestnut St.) to Pine, right in Center City.”

Where did the idea for the crosswalk come from?
“We actually had a board member who went on vacation a few years ago and saw one similar and sent us back pictures saying, “wouldn’t this be really cool to have in Philly?” We all agreed and we starting asking people about getting it done and we got a lot of people saying “no way”. Then a little over a year and a half ago someone posted something on our Facebook wall asking if we would consider doing it, or if we knew how to go about doing it. So we just started working on it from then on.”

Was it a difficult process?
“It was long process. You have to go through so many departments within the city and find the right agencies to help you.”

What was the involvement of Philly Pride Presents?
“It was our idea. We kept pressing for it. Senior Advisor Chuck Volz kept on me about it and I’d go bother whoever needed to be on top of it.”

Would you consider the crosswalk an attraction for the city?
“Absolutely. Our office is around the corner and every time I go by I see people stopping to look, taking selfies in front of it, taking pictures. I see all kinds of people. I saw three kids making a pyramid on it and getting their picture taken. I saw a gentleman today taking a picture squatting down with his baby in the carriage right in front of the rainbow.”rainbow

Do you think the recent Supreme Court decision on marriage equality being so close to the dedication might actually bolster the tourism aspect of it?
“I’m sure it will. There are only 4 or 5 cities that have anything like it, so it is a draw. Plus rainbows are colorful. No matter who you are, rainbows mean beautiful colors. People love them. Kids love rainbows. Think of all the kids toys that are done in rainbow colors. We have a different meaning for it of course, but people love rainbows. Someone said the other day that now they know where to tell people to meet them in the city. Meet me at the rainbow crosswalk. It can be another landmark or point of interest that is easy for someone coming in to town to find and meet.

That’s a great idea. Do you know what other cities have a similar crosswalk?
“I believe Seattle, Vancouver, and San Francisco have them. I think Chicago also has something similar, but they are temporary. If people want to see them or visit them, they can go online and look up rainbow crosswalks and the different locations will come up.”

There’s a lot of special events going on this weekend with the LGBT50 events. How does that tie in with the crosswalk?
“We’re actually having the dedication of the crosswalk this Sunday at 1:00 (note: at interview time the LGBT50 site states that the event begins at 11:30 a.m. however Philly Pride’s Facebook page notes the time was moved to 1:00). I believe we have a few of the original protestors in town for the dedication and we’re actually planning to have them be the first to walk across after the dedication.”

And there is an event following the dedication?
“It’s the Annual Reminders block party. That’s the finale of all of the events for the week basically. That will be held icrosswalks5n the Gayborhood as well. We’ll be closing off 10th street. We have lots of vendors and networking and it’ll be fun for everyone. (Price noted that they were anticipating roughly 40 vendors initially but are at 107 at the time of this interview) has more details on the dedication, block party and more. If you can’t make it out to the dedication or the block party, the crosswalk is an attraction that fortunately you can access 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for free. Unique and symbolic, it’s something we think our readers would like to know about, and something they’d like to check out for themselves. Not to mention, it’s very picture worthy. Instagram anyone? We feel it is well deserving of this week’s Sunday Spotlight.

Results of this weeks poll…marriage equality

Thank you all for your participation in this weeks poll on marriage equality. We LOVE your feedback. Keep up the good work! Here are the results:
Do you agree with the decision of the Supreme Court for marriage equality in all 50 states?
89% said yes
11% said no

“Marriage is a federal issue as it has interstate consequences. As such, it is not a state issue as Hillary Clinton thought, prior to 2015, it was. The ruling only serves equality and diminishes nothing, including religious liberties as the fanatics will have you believe.”

“Because it was the right thing to do!”

“Love is Love!!”

Welcome to the 21st Century Marriage Equality!

We’d already planned what we were going to talk about this week when the Supreme Court reached their landmark marriage equality decision last week. With the recent Pride Parade in Philly, and the 50th Annual Reminders anniversary festivities that are now going on, and the new Rainbow Crosswalk, it seemed like an excellent time to tackle the topic. As luck would have it, just a day before I sat down to write my first post, the Supreme Court made it’s ruling.

In case you’re not totally familiar with the ruling, or wanted a little more than “it means same-sex couples can marry in every state”, here is the opinion of the court:
marriageequality3 On June 26, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court held in a 5–4 decision that the Fourteenth Amendment requires all states to grant same-sex marriages and recognize same-sex marriages granted in other states. The Court overturned its prior decision in Baker v. Nelson, which the Sixth Circuit had invoked as precedent. Justice Anthony Kennedy (often considered the “swing vote” of the court) authored the decision. Kennedy wrote in part for the majority:

No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.
—Justice Anthony Kennedy, Obergefell v. Hodges majority opinion

gay-pride-314659_1280Upon hearing the court’s decision, plaintiff James Obergefell said,”Today’s ruling from the Supreme Court affirms what millions across the country already know to be true in our hearts: that our love is equal.” Obergefell who sought to put his name on his husband’s Ohio death certificate as surviving spouse, originally filed in June 2013. Obergefell and John Arthur, a same-sex couple from Cincinnati, Ohio decided to marry to obtain legal federal recognition of a marriage. After learning that their state of residence would not recognize their marriage license (performed in MD) they filed the lawsuit. Arthur died on October 22, 2013 of Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s Disease.



*Photo of woman making her support of her marriage known outside New York City’s Lincoln Center is courtesy of photographer David Shankbone and is provided courtesy of Creative Commons License 3.0.

Philly Pride: The LGBT 50th Anniversary Celebration Calendar of Events

Annual gay pride events take place every year in communities across the nation. Every year Philly Pride organizes a series of events in Philadelphia such as Pride Day, the OutFest block party, Annual Reminders, and more. The Annual Reminders block parties are held to commemorate the protests, demonstrations, and pioneering members of the gay pride movement.
In 1965, a small group of local gay and lesbian activists were among the first to form an organized LGBT civil rights movement and demonstrate in an effort to exercise the civil rights of the LGBT community. From 1965 to 1969 these events, which took place in front of Independence Hall occurred every 4th of July, were known as “Annual Reminders”. 2015 marks the 50th anniversary of the Annual Reminders. This year’s Annual Reminder’s events commemorate the first demonstrations and the brave activists who staged them.

pride2Beginning tomorrow, and continuing on through the weekend, there are so many activities and events that will take place around the city. We’ve shared LGBT50’s calendar of events. There are events hosted by various community and religious organizations and venues which are LGBT50 specific events, as well as city-sponsored events for the upcoming Independence Day holiday. Check out one, check out all. Everyone is welcome. Just bring the right attitude and enjoy! And on our upcoming Spotlight Sunday we’ll be featuring one of the highlights from this year’s LGBT50 in greater detail, and inviting you to come down and check it out anytime.

Thursday July 2nd, 2015
2:15 pm Wreath Laying at Gay Pioneers Historical Marker
5:15 pm Christ Church Religious Freedom Tour Christ Church
6:30 pm National Legal Panel at the National Museum of American Jewish History
8:15 pm National Politics Panel at Congress Hall
10:00 pm 50th Anniversary Party at the National Museum of American Jewish History

Friday July 3rd, 2015
4:00 pm National Interfaith Service at Christ Church
5:00 pm Live Nation 50th Anniversary Concert at the River Stage at Great Plaza Penn’s Landing
6:00 pm “Gay Pioneers” Screening With Special Guests WHYY

Saturday July 4th, 2015
11:30 am 50th Anniversary VIP Lunch at the Independence Visitor Center
2:15 pm National LGBT 50th Anniversary Ceremony at Independence Hall
4:30 pm VIP Party at the Stratus Rooftop Lounge at Hotel Monaco
7:00 pm Wawa Welcome America Concert on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway *
11:00 pm Wawa Welcome America Fireworks on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway *

Sunday July 5th, 2015
12:00 pm Street Festival in The Gayborhood
12:00 pm Parties in The Gayborhood

broadAdditional parties and events to be held on the eve of each day’s events. You can check out the LGBT50 site here for more information and to keep an eye on yet to be announced parties and events.

* denotes City of Philadelphia sponsored events.

The Gayborhood is a section of the city of Philadelphia encompassing the area from Pine st. to Chestnut st. (though some say Walnut st.) between 11th st and Broad st. For a map of the area click here.

Have a great holiday weekend and come out and show your PRIDE!

This Week’s Poll… Marriage Equality

This week we’re talking about gay pride events and topics. With last weeks historic decision by the Supreme Court, we had to find out where you weigh in. Please take this weeks poll before Friday.

Pride and Independence Day: The U.S. Supreme Court Make it Easy to ‘Marry’ the Two.

rainbow-13902_640Today’s post was supposed to be an introduction to a week-long series about pride (given the upcoming LGBT Pride activities taking place in and around our fair city) and independence (to coincide with the upcoming July 4th Independence Day holiday). In this spot was meant to be words that would introduce you to the different people, places and activities we’d be visiting and talking about as gay pride celebrations take place around the city and nationwide.
Saturday is Independence Day. While I was thinking about ways to tie in Independence Day with how we here feel about the importance of LGBT rights and acceptance, I was given a gift that every writer treasures beyond any other- inspiration. On Friday, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that same-sex couples should be legally allowed to marry. In every state. Every state. Marriage equality, while it still has hurdles to climb, no longer has to scratch and claw and eek its way out of the shadows, state by state, fight by fight.

love-581837_1280If you’ve been following this for a long time, hoping for this day… if you had
been waiting for this day to marry someone who you love, then let that sink in for a minute. It’s been a long road. It’s been a hard-fought battle for many. Carved with the blood, sweat, tears, and even lives of people who have stood their ground through the years, knowing that this day would one day have to come. We, who believe in the equal rights of ALL men and women to love, marry, and live freely, hold on our shoulders on this day, the ghosts of those who are not here to see their work come to fruition. But, they are here!
And as I abandoned my thoughts of how to introduce you all to a week about pride, about independence, and how I could fuse the two, it struck me… for all of us who watched today, either “real” or in spirit, as we held up our hands in joy, that today is Independence Day!
Today all love is good love. Today love wins. Today we all win.
I couldn’t think of a better way to start a week of pride and independence.