Canadians honored in Equality Forum's 40th Anniversary of gay and lesbian civil rights movement.





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Advocacy News - Awards - Equality Forum: 40 years, 40 heroes

November 15, 2004

Equality Forum: 40 years, 40 heroes
Canadians honored in 40th year of gay civil rights

Equality Forum announced that the 40th Anniversary Celebration of the gay and lesbian civil rights movement will be held in Philadelphia at Independence National Historical Park on Sunday, May 1, 2005, as part of Equality Forum 2005 (April 25 to May 1).

"The 40th Anniversary Celebration of the GLBT civil rights movement on Sunday, May 1st at Independence National Historical Park will honor 40 Heroes. These 40 Heroes have made a defining difference in our civil rights movement," stated Sally Susman, National Co-Chair, 40th Anniversary Celebration, in a press announcement released today. "The organized movement began in Philadelphia on July 4, 1965, in front of Independence Hall with 40 demonstrators from NY, DC and Philadelphia. That demonstration lit a fire that became the global GLBT civil rights movement we know today."

Equality Forum will honor thirty-seven individuals, two couples and a company "for their extraordinary contributions toward GLBT equality."

"The 40 Heroes are the activists, role models and leaders, who shaped the movement over the past 40 years," said Jonathan Capehart, Co-Chair, 40th Anniversary Celebration. "We will have a 40 Heroes Pavilion to meet and take pictures with our founders."

The 40th Anniversary Celebration also includes entertainers, speakers, collaborative programs at major institutions on Independence Mall (Independence Hall to National Constitution Center), continuous screenings of "Gay Pioneers," a large street festival, 40 Equality Forum rainbow flags on Independence Mall and a concert.

"This is an impressive list from Bayard Rustin to Barney Frank, MTV to Melissa Etheridge, Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin to Kevin Bourassa and Joe Varnell, Larry Kramer to Andrew Sullivan," stated Malcolm Lazin, Executive Director, Equality Forum. "In honoring these Heroes we acknowledge the paths they have paved for our equality."
Photo by William Wilson for, 2004)
Joe and Kevin with same-sex marriage advocates Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin, California's first couple to be married by San Francisco.

"We invited over 80 organizations and leaders to nominate the Heroes. We are grateful to the national leaders and organizations for the 40 Heroes nominations and to Bruce Steele, Editor-in-Chief, The Advocate and Heather Finlay, Editor-in-Chief, Girlfriends Magazine, who served as Co-Chairs, 40 Heroes Selection Committee," stated Joe Farrell, Chair, Board of Directors, Equality Forum.

Equality Forum's mission is to advance national and international GLBT civil rights. Equality Forum undertakes high impact initiatives, produces documentary films and presents the largest annual national and international GLBT civil rights forum. Equality Forum in collaboration with WHYY/PBS produced "Gay Pioneers", a documentary about the start of the gay and lesbian civil rights movement with annual demonstrations from 1965 to 1969 in NY, DC and Philadelphia.

Distinguished leadership award for Kevin Bourassa and Joe Varnell from the Equality ForumGay marriage advocates Kevin Bourassa and Joe Varnell participated in panel discussions during Equality Forum 2004, and they were awarded Equality Forum's Distinguished Leadership Award in 2003 for their advocacy work on behalf of marriage equality.

Equality Forum 2005 from April 25 to May 1 will have 60 programs, parties and special events with 100 regional, national and international organizations participating.

For additional information, please contact Michael Pomante, Communications Associate at (215) 732-3378 x15 or

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