Philly Pride: Touring the murals of the city's Gayborhood

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Philadelphia is rich with history and during this month of pride we wanted to highlight the important part our city played in the national LGBT movement.

LGBT activists and leaders at the forefront have since been honored with both historical markers and artistic murals in the city.

We caught up with Bob Skiba, curator of LGBT Archives at the William Way LGBT Community Center, who also gives walking tours of the area known as the Gayborhood.

The Gayborhood is about six square blocks, running roughly from 11th Street to Broad and Walnut to Pine.

"It's easy to find because it's marked by what were originally 36 Rainbow street signs," Skiba said. "And they were put up to mark this neighborhood as an area of inclusivity and diversity."

On the corner of Juniper and Spruce streets you can view a mural that covers the west wall of the William Way LGBT Community Center.

"Where the first mural put up by Mural Arts dedicated to the LGBT community was painted by Anne Northrup in 2003," Skiba said.

It's called Pride and Progress.

"And it depicts really kind of a stylized gay pride parade or gay pride event in the neighborhood," Skiba said.

On the left, there is a reference to the past.

"That's Barbara Gittings on the mural here," Skiba said.

Skiba says Gittings, a pioneer and lesbian activist, was instrumental in putting together the annual reminders.

"And these were the first regularly organized demonstrations for gay rights in the country that happened every year," said Skiba.

Philadelphia native Edith Windsor and other LGBT activists are honored with historical markers.

"Now Edie's case that she brought before the Supreme Court led directly to the Supreme Court's landmark decision in 2015 that granted marriage equality across the country," said Skiba.

Also in 2015, the mural on 12th Street was dedicated to the late Gloria Casarez, the first director of the city's Office of LGBT affairs.

"We're so appreciative that Mural Arts has put these murals up and put them out there where they're highly visible," Skiba said. "The most important thing that I learned that gay people did was to refuse to be invisible."

Skiba commented that he was amazed by how the way America looks at LGBT people has changed so dramatically, even in the last 10 years, and says that we have people like Barbara Gittings to thank for their work.
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