Advancing LGBT Civil Rights

AIDS Library of Philadelphia Historic Marker Dedication

Tuesday, October 3, 12:15 pm - 12:45 pm
1233 Locust Street

Philadelphia, PA


Begun in 1987, the AIDS Library of Philadelphia was the nation’s first library to provide HIV/AIDS information and to help combat society’s fears about the epidemic. In stark contrast to the government’s negligible response, LGBT communities nationwide provided information and rallied to develop social services, support research and demand action. This advocacy changed the course of the epidemic and societal attitudes toward gays and other people affected by HIV. Although the epidemic propelled the early LGBT civil rights movement, it came with the loss of nearly a generation of gay men.

Sponsored by

John Cunningham (Participant)
AIDS Library of Philadelphia

John Cunningham has served as Co-chair of the Gay and Lesbian Community Center Board and was among the founders of the AIDS Library of Philadelphia and The AIDS Fund. He currently serves on the board of the LGBT Elder Initiative. In 2015, John coordinated exhibits and public programs for the 50th Anniversary of the Annual Reminders at Independence Hall each July 4th from 1965-69.

Malcolm Lazin (Master of Ceremonies)
Executive Director
Equality Forum

Malcolm Lazin is the Executive Director of Equality Forum and the founder of LGBT History Month. Previously a federal prosecutor, he received the U.S. Attorney General’s Distinguished Service Award and subsequently served as the chair of the Pennsylvania Crime Commission.

Lazin is credited with the lighting of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge, which connects Philadelphia with Camden, New Jersey. He also successfully led a nearly two-decades-long campaign to make Washington Square (in Philadelphia), the largest Revolutionary War burial site, part of Independence National Historical Park. Lazin is the recipient of numerous local, state and national community service and civil rights awards.

Jesse Milan Jr. (Keynote Speaker)
President & CEO
AIDS United

Jesse Milan is the president & CEO of AIDS United, a national organization focused on HIV policy and grant-making. He has lived with HIV for 35 years. He chaired federal advisory committees for the CDC and HRSA, served appointments by U.S. Secretaries of Health and Human Services and the Global AIDS Ambassador, and served as chairman of five nonprofit boards of directors including the ActionAIDS (now ActionWellness) and the Philadelphia AIDS Consortium. In his 17 years in Philadelphia, he served as the director of AIDS Activities Coordinating Office, the first chair of the Ryan White Planning Council and the co-chair of the Mayor’s Commission on Sexual Minorities, among other positions. 

Philadelphia Gay Men's Chorus

Formed in 1981, the Philadelphia Gay Men's Chorus (PGMC) has grown to more than 140 active members and has steadily increased its visibility in both the LGBTQ+ community and the Philadelphia arts scene. The Chorus's season includes three main stage productions and multiple special events. PGMC’s repertoire includes a broad range of styles, including spirituals and sacred music, holiday songs, love ballads, comic numbers, pop and rock, Broadway and Hollywood tunes, opera, international folk, and the latest LGBTQ+ empowerment music and commissioned works.

Mark Squilla (Participant)
City of Philadelphia First District

Mark Squilla represents Philadelphia City Council’s 1st District, a diverse area that stretches along the Delaware River from South Philadelphia across Center City, Chinatown, Northern Liberties, Fishtown, Kensington and Port Richmond. Since 1998 he has been a member of the Democratic City Committee, representing Ward 39B. A community activist for nearly 20 years before he was elected to the council in 2011, Squilla has immersed himself in such efforts as moving to revitalize the Reading Viaduct and growing the East Passyunk Business Improvement District. The East Passyunk District has become one of the East Coast’s most prominent emerging hotspots for living, dining and nightlife.

Heshie Zinman (Participant)
AIDS Library of Philadelphia

Heshie Zinman has a long history of activism on both the local and national level. He has a passionate commitment for the health and well-being of LGBT and HIV communities and helped shape the city’s response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic from the period of 1987-1998. He was a driving force behind the start-up of Action AIDS, AIDS Fund, SafeGuards Gay Men’s Health Project and Delaware Valley Legacy Fund. He founded the AIDS Library of Philadelphia (which today resides at Philadelphia FIGHT) and went on to become the Executive Director of the AIDS Information Network. Heshie has worked as HIV Community Relations Manager for Dupont Pharmaceuticals Company and Bristol-Myers Squibb Pharmaceuticals. He currently serves as board chair of the LGBT Elder Initiative. Heshie has served on many other boards of directors, most recently joining the board of Philadelphia Corporation For Aging and the Mayor's Commission on Aging. 

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