Philadelphia to dedicate unique gay mural

By Advocate.com Editors

Originally published on Advocate.com May 15 2003 11:00 PM ET

The city of Philadelphia will dedicate a 7,500-square-foot mural Saturday that pays tribute to gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgendered people. Titled Pride and Progress, the mural--the city's 2,353rd--is one of Philadelphia's largest. It stretches almost a block long alongside a downtown community center that serves the gay community. At 150 feet wide and 50 feet tall, the mural depicts a composite of 1960s gay civil rights marches in Philadelphia and New York, a festival on cobblestone streets with a multicultural throng, and segments of Independence Mall, all under a moody sky with the hint of a rainbow. "I wanted to create something beautiful and atmospheric," said Ann Northrup, 54, an artist whose design was chosen for the mural.

Northrup, along with 10 assistants and 10 volunteers, began work on the mural in August, using more than 50 gallons of latex paint to create the panoramic scenes. Jane Golden, who founded the city's mural arts program in 1984, said the idea of a mural for the gay community was first brought up three years ago. Golden noted that in researching the project, no one had been able to locate another public mural in the country paying tribute to the gay community. "I think it's the first...and certainly the largest in the country about this theme," she said. Northrup added that people in the neighborhood were supportive during the work process. "One guy came up, and he was crying. He couldn't speak," Northrup said. "You really get appreciated out here."