Just because something (or someone) is lesbian and gay doesn’t make it LGBT.
In the ’60s, when Gittings was one of the organizers of the Annual Reminders protest at Independence Hall, the point of the men dressing in suits and the women wearing dresses and carrying pocketbooks was they did not want drag queens, effeminate males and butch dykes — the homosexual stereotypes — at the protest. The reason effeminate males, drag queens and butch dykes were the stereotype is because they were the only people who were out of the closet. Rock Hudson certainly wouldn’t turn from kissing Doris Day and say, “I really want to suck tonsils with Troy Donahue!” That may have been the official moment that the movement began intentionally excluding and harassing gender-variant people out of the movement.
On the other hand, the earlier successful May 1965 sit-in demonstration by drag queens at Dewey’s (a restaurant at 17th and Chancellor streets where Little Pete’s is located) allowed straight-appearing gay men such as Clark Polak from the Janus Society and lesbians to join them. Social class may be the reason why the Independence Hall demonstrations by Gittings and others are promoted as historic while the earlier sit-in demonstration by drag queens at Dewey’s to be served has been ignored.
In November 2009 in Puerto Rico, Jorge Steven Lopez Mercado was murdered. It was initially reported as a gay murder. Malcolm Lazin chose to hold a memorial service for what he thought was a murdered gay man on Transgender Day of Remembrance. At the gay memorial service, he had several speakers and the Gay Men’s Chorus. It came out in the meantime that the gay male victim was in drag, making it a transgender murder. Someone might nitpick that being in drag doesn’t necessarily make him transgender, but the murderer wasn’t parsing definitions. Lazin used the opportunity to speak about Barbara Gittings and her Independence Mall Protest. He also made an ignorant statement about how blacks were lynched for being uppity and comparing that to homophobic murder. What Lazin didn’t comprehend is that blacks did not have to do anything to be lynched. They only had to encounter white people who thought they had the right to lynch them.
This is very similar to the way transgender persons are murdered. A transgender person only has to accidentally encounter a man who thinks he has the right to kill him or her. Even after Lazin must have known that the victim was in drag (some of the speakers before him had mentioned it), he still could not make his mouth say transgender at his memorial service for a murdered transgender person on Transgender Day of Remembrance.
I have nothing against a corner or street being named after Barbara Gittings. I think it is very appropriate that there is a library collection named after her. [But] 13th and Locust during the ’60s and ’70s was a multicultural meeting place for drag queens and transsexuals. Spruce Street was the gay and lesbian gathering place with the Allegro, Westbury and Mistique, among other bars. Why not make Spruce between 13th and Juniper (where the William Way Center is located) or even Broad Street Barbara Gittings Way?
Barbara Gittings may be the mother of the lesbian and gay movement. She is simply not my mother.
— Cei Bell Northwest Philadelphia