By KYW community affairs reporter Cherri Gregg

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The National Constitution Center will open a new exhibition this week that chronicles the 50-year history of the LGBT civil rights movement, which got its start right here in Philadelphia.

Titled “Speaking Out for Equality: The Constitution, Gay Rights, and the Supreme Court,” this multi-faceted exhibit takes a look at LGBT rights from a time when being gay was a crime to today, when gay marriage may be on the verge of becoming the law of the land.

Exhibit curator Bob Skiba says the artifacts they have gathered tell a remarkable story:

“It’s a story that starts with gay people being invisible, discovering an identity and being proud of that identity, and then saying, ‘If I’m okay with that identity, then I need to be treated fairly.’ ”

 

(The one section of the exhibit focuses on the changing portrayal of gays in popular media over the last several decades.  Photo by Cherri Gregg)

(The one section of the exhibit focuses on the changing portrayal of gays in popular media over the last several decades. Photo by Cherri Gregg)

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The exhibition includes the US Supreme Court opinions that defined LGBT rights, as well as objects that include medical books defining homosexuality as a mental disorder, gay rights picket signs, and documentaries on the treatment of the gay community in the 1950s and 1960s.

“It was a different world,” says Skiba.  “People think gay rights is something that is new, but it took hundreds of thousands of people fifty years to get here.  All that work and it’s finally bearing fruit.”

The exhibit is produced in partnership with the William Way LGBT Community Center.  It opens this Friday and runs through January, and will be the centerpiece of the citywide celebration of LGBT history during July 4th week.