The role of pioneer Barbara Gittings in the development of the LGBT-rights movement was formally recognized Tuesday.
About 100 people attended an unveiling ceremony for a state historic marker at the former home of Gittings and partner Kay Lahusen, located at Locust Commons at 21st and Locust streets. The couple lived in a third-floor walkup in the building during the mid-1960s, when Gittings served as a key organizer of the Reminder Day marchers, considered among the earliest LGBT-rights protests in the country, held at Independence Hall.
Gittings passed away in 2007. Lahusen was unable to attend, but the ceremony was videotaped for her.
The marker installation was organized by Equality Forum.
Executive director Malcolm Lazin called Gittings a “great blessing” to the community and said her commitment to being out should be looked at in the context of the 1960s.
“It made her unemployable, socially undesirable,” Lazin said. “But she was determined, and we are the beneficiaries.”
Other speakers included out Preservation Alliance executive director Paul Steinke and City Councilman Kenyatta Johnson.
Former Houston Mayor Annise Parker said she was just 2 when Gittings helped found rights organization Daughters of Bilitis, calling her a “goddess” for “baby activists” like herself.
Parker called herself a feminist, to wide cheers, and said it’s important to cement the stories of women activists like Gittings.
“When we preserve Barbara Gittings’ history, we preserve women’s history, which is important because women tend to get written out of history,” Parker said.
Equality Forum will also host a ceremony Wednesday at 11 a.m. to dedicate a marker at 320 Arch St. outside the site of a planning meeting for the 1979 March on Washington for Gay & Lesbian Rights.