IPR is featuring some of the many LGBTQ+ pioneers and modern-day heroes to celebrate Pride month.
Barbara Gittings was born in Vienna, Austria in 1932. She is regarded as the “mother” of the LGBTQ rights movement.
She started the New York chapter of the Daughters of Bilitis (DOB). The DOB was the first lesbian civil rights organization, and Gittings was the editor of its publication, “The Ladder.”
Gittings spearheaded the first public demonstration for LGBTQ rights. She enlisted activists from New York, Washington D.C. and Philadelphia, to protest each Fourth of July from 1965-69. The 1969 protest led to the Stonewall Riots. The year after, Gittings organized a march in New York City honoring the Stonewall riots, which became known as the first Pride Parade.
Gittings also fought against the classification of homosexuality as a mental health disorder. In 1972, she set up a panel about homosexuality at the annual meeting of the American Psychiatric Association (APA). She had a gay psychiatrist speak at the panel anonymously, who stated that homosexuality was not a disease. The next year, the APA removed the classification of homosexuality being a disease, which made huge strides for gay rights.
Gittings changed the world of literature. She was on the Gay Task Force of the American Library Association, which she was awarded a lifetime membership for. She brought LGBTQ literature to the mainstream, which spread awareness about the community.
A historical marker in Pennsylvania was created to honor the early protests Gittings and other pioneers were part of. Barbara Gittings died in 2012, and a street in Philadelphia was named “Barbara Gittings Way.”