Delaware native Barbara Gittings was compared to spider silk — strong, nearly invisible, and composing the very important framework of a web — at a decidation to a historical marker commemorating the late LGBT activist in Philadelphia on Tuesday.
Gittings and her allies in the lesbian and gay communities changed the stigma associated with homosexuality, said Annise Parker, former mayor of Houston, who spoke at the dedication in Rittenhouse Square.
“Barbara Gittings was a goddess for baby activists back then,” Parker said.
The historic marker is located near the site of her former Philadelphia home, outside of the Locust Commons apartment building, where she lived on the third floor.
Her most notable work includes getting the American Psychiatric Association to drop homosexuality as a mental illness, and increasing positive homosexual literature in libraries through her involvement with the American Library Association, said officials at the event.
Malcolm Lazin, executive director of Equality Forum, a national civil rights group, said Gittings, who died in 2007, was charismatic and courageous. He also emphasized her toughness and her ability to accomplish her goals.
Gittings would be pleased with the progress made since she passed away nearly a decade ago.
“It would have exceeded her wildest expectations,” said Lazin.
Delaware delegate Mitch Crane echoed that remark, saying she would be both amazed and honored.
“This is the Gayborhood. This is where they gathered,” he said, adding that many of the bars of that day are now gone. “People like to be with their own.”
Sara Jo Lee is a University of Delaware student covering events in Philadelphia during the Democratic National Convention.