Barbara Gittings

Moonstone and William Way Community Center Present

Barbara Gittings, A Talk by Sherrie Joyce Cohen

Sunday October 27, 2013, 2pm

William Way LGBT Community Center, 1315 Spruce Street, 215-732-2220

 barbara gittings

Barbara Gittings (July 31, 1932 – February 18, 2007) was a prominent American activist for gay equality. She organized the New York chapter of the Daughters of Bilitis (DOB) from 1958 to 1963, edited the national DOB magazine The Ladder from 1963 to 1966, and worked closely with Frank Kameny in the 1960s on the first picket lines that brought attention to the ban on employment of gay people by the largest employer in the US at that time: the United States government. Her early experiences with trying to learn more about lesbianism fueled her lifetime work with libraries. In the 1970s, Gittings was most involved in the American Library Association, forming the first gay caucus in a professional organization, in order to promote positive literature about homosexuality in libraries. She was a part of the movement to get the American Psychiatric Association to drop homosexuality as a mental illness in 1972. Her self-described life mission was to tear away the “shroud of invisibility” related to homosexuality that associated it with crime and mental illness. She was awarded a lifetime membership in the American Library Association, and the ALA named an annual award for the best gay or lesbian novel the The Barbara Gittings Award. The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) also named an activist award for her. At her memorial service, Matt Foreman, the executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force said, “What do we owe Barbara? Everything.”


Sherrie Cohen, a candidate for Philadelphia City Council At Large in May 2015, is a human rights attorney and lifelong activist in the movements for LGBTQ rights, women’s rights, and economic and social justice.  She began her LGBTQ activism in the 1970’s, fighting for Philadelphia’s lesbian and gay rights anti-discrimination ordinance, and is the immediate past co-chair of Liberty City Democratic Club, the city’s LGBTQ Democratic political organization.  Sherrie ran a historic race in May 2011 as Philadelphia’s first out LGBTQ Democratic candidate for City Council, and almost won the race, receiving almost 45,000 votes, and losing by only 1,600


The William Way LGBT Community Center is a nonprofit organization serving the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender population of Philadelphia, founded in 1975 as the Gay Community Center of Philadelphia. The Center’s programs include archives of local and regional LGBT documents and artifacts, an extensive library, and programs in peer counseling, senior services, education, and arts and culture. The Center also offers numerous 12-step meetings throughout the day and night. The western wall of the community center features Ann Northrup’s block-long mural, “Pride & Progress”, featuring images of Philadelphia’s LGBT citizens over decades. The Center’s current executive director is Chris Bartlett

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