Philadelphia, March 25, 2015– The City of Philadelphia announced that the iconic Philly POPS! will honor LGBT members of the United States armed services during its annual POPS on Independence concert on Independence Mall this year on July 3rd.  This year, the 4th of July celebration marks the 50th Anniversary of the LGBT Rights Movement, and the City of Philadelphia will host one of the Nation’s largest celebrations honoring this historic milestone.

“I am proud that the Philly POPS! will join the theme of this year’s Fourth of July festivities by honoring LGBT men and women who have bravely served our country,” said Mayor Nutter.  “This is yet another reason why the Human Rights Campaign recently named Philadelphia the best big city in America for LGBT equality.  The Fourth of July is a day of celebration, but it is also a day to contemplate our Nation’s origins, history and democratic values – freedom, justice and equality for all.  This is the perfect backdrop to honor and reflect upon the gains made by the LGBT community over the last 50 years.”

It is widely recognized and agreed upon that the LGBT Rights Movement began when LGBT activists protested for equality every Fourth of July beginning in 1965 until 1969 in front of Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia.  These demonstrations were called ‘Annual Reminders’, a fact which is memorialized in a Pennsylvania Historical Marker at the northwest corner of 6th & Chestnut Streets.

“I am incredibly proud that Philadelphia will honor LGBT service people this July 3rd during the annual POPS on Independence concert,” said Helen Fitzpatrick, Director of the City’s Office of LGBT Affairs.  “For decades, LGBT servicemen and women have served our nation to protect our fundamental ideals of freedom and democracy, all while being denied the freedom to be who they are.   The efforts of the National Reminders protesters, some of our earliest LGBT rights advocates, helped pave the road to equality that has enabled LGBT service people to serve proudly and openly in our armed forces today.  Our LGBT veterans and their families deserve the same respect, honor and gratitude to which all of our armed forces members and their families are entitled.  I am especially grateful for the opportunity to thank them for their service right here in Philadelphia, the birthplace of democracy, and a national leader in LGBT protections and progress.”

Each year on July 3rd, the Philly POPS! return to the steps of Independence Hall as part of the Wawa Welcome America! Festival to perform a free concert for thousands of fans. This Philadelphia tradition perfectly sets the stage for the festival’s events that take place in the same location on the morning of July 4th – the Celebration of Freedom Ceremony and Independence Day Parade. The Wawa Welcome America! Festival, America’s largest Independence Day celebration, will take place in the City of Philadelphia from June 27 to July 4, 2015 to celebrate the Nation’s birthday, in its birthplace.  Free events such as Wawa Hoagie Day, Philly @ the Movies, two jam-packed block parties, and more will lead up to the Philly 4th of July Jam and fireworks grand finale, which serve as the culmination of the eight-day festival. A full schedule of events, including the announcement of the highly-anticipated talent for the Fourth of July concert, will be announced in the coming months.  More information about the Wawa Welcome America! Festival can be found on

“The Wawa Welcome America! Festival is excited to recognize and include LGBT service men and women in our salute to the troops during this year’s POPS! on Independence concert,” said Desiree Peterkin-Bell, City Representative and Executive Director of Welcome America, Inc. “A salute to our military members is included in the show each year, and given the major anniversary being celebrated by the LGBT community this summer, we felt it was extremely important to make sure that LGBT service people are recognized during this segment. POPS! on Independence will be one of several events to honor the 50th Anniversary of the LGBT Rights Movement during the 2015 Wawa Welcome America! Festival.”

The POPS on Independence concert is part of the Philly POPS! Salute Series, which encourages recognition of service and commitment through an expanding set of events and activities—each transformative moments of celebration for our community.  The Salute performances recognize the service and sacrifice of those dedicated to a collective identity of American values and tradition.  A full listing of Salute performances can be found at

“The Philly POPS is thrilled to participate in POPS on Independence for the fourteenth year”, said Frank Giordano, President and CEO of the Philly POPS.  “This year is of particular importance to us as we join in honoring and celebrating the groundbreaking work of the LGBT Rights Movement here in Philadelphia, in the very location where our nation’s traditions of freedom and liberty were first proclaimed.”

Posted in Mayor's Press Releases
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