Contact: Cathy Renna, 917-757-6123,

Youth Generation Presents Future Challenge

National LGBT 50th Anniversary Celebration

JUNE 15, 2015, Philadelphia, PA - Organizers of the National LGBT 50th Anniversary Celebration, from July 2 to 5, announced that three powerful young voices will address the “future challenges’ of the LGBT movement. Andy Goodling, whose powerful story of struggle and loss is documented in his youtube video, Jonathan Allen, who was a semi-finalist on "America's Got Talent," and Tamika Butler, who was the California Director of Youth Invincibles and is the current and youngest-ever co-chair, Board of Directors, National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR).

Said Malcolm Lazin, Chair, National LGBT 50th Anniversary Celebration, "Standing on the Gay Pioneers' shoulders, Tamika, Andy and Jonathan reflect and articulate future challenge. While the 50th celebrates our progress including same-sex marriage, it is not the end but rather than the half way marker in the eradication of societal trans and homophobia."

"Andy Goodling and Jonathan Allen's videos are must-see,” said Lazin.

From Andy Goodling:

Jonathan Allen:

Andy Goodling: “Bryan Hessert and I met my senior year in college, and it was the best feeling in the world. For the first time in my life, I felt like I found somebody that knew me and understood the struggles I was going through. I learned so much about myself, what made me happy and what I wanted out of life….Despite us finally being comfortable with our sexuality with each other, neither of us were ready to be open with anybody else. Nobody knew about our relationship – not our friends, family, classmates nor coworkers. Nobody.  We kept it all a secret for 4 years.

In April 2014, we secretly met in Fort Lauderdale, Florida to spend some time together. We also had a goal to sit down and talk about how we were going to start making moves to come out and live together. When I met Bryan in Florida, he was sick and looked awful. The majority of our time together was spent trying to help him feel better. We tried all of the over-the-counter drugs to help him, but he refused to go to the hospital that was next to our hotel, because he didn't want the insurance paperwork to go to his house. While I would never have guessed it at the time, I think Bryan not seeking medical help during this was a fatal mistake.

I was completely devastated when I found out that Bryan died a few days later. I felt like a nuclear bomb went off in my world and everything came crashing down. Within 36-hours, I had lost my best friend, the only person I was comfortable being myself with, and I came out to my family. What made coming out so difficult was the fact that I always envisioned Bryan there by my side when I was ready to do it.  At the same time, it helped put things in perspective, because my huge, scary secret seemed minuscule after losing the one that I loved.”

Jonathan Allen also came out in big way when he appeared on “America’s Got Talent” in 2013. Allen, who has since moved on to a career in singing, will participate in the 50th anniversary by singing “Ave Maria” at the National Interfaith Service and a duet with GoGo Morrow of the iconic “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” during the salute to the Gay Pioneers at the National LGBT 50th Anniversary Ceremony on July 4th.

Tamika Butler will be presenting Future Challenge at the National LGBT 50th Anniversary Ceremony at Independence Hall on July 4th. Tamika is the former California Director of Young Invincibles and was an attorney at Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center and member of the Gender Equity and LGBT Rights program. She is the current co-chair of National Center for Lesbian Right's Board of Directors and the youngest person in NCLR history to serve in that capacity. Tamika's current position is Executive Director of the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition, where she leads the organization's work to bring equity and inclusion to the forefront of issues involving active transportation, access to transportation, land use, and transit-oriented development.  

The organized LGBT civil rights movement was galvanized when activists from New York, Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia staged demonstrations at Independence Hall for equality each Fourth of July from 1965 to 1969. When 40 activists picketed in front of Independence Hall in 1965, it was the largest demonstration for gay equality in world history.

Organized by Frank Kameny and Barbara Gittings, the father and mother of the LGBT civil rights movement, these “Annual Reminders” laid the groundwork for the Stonewall riot in 1969. After Stonewall, the Gay Pioneers suspended the Annual Reminders and turned their energies to help organize the 1970 march from Greenwich Village to Central Park marking the first anniversary of Stonewall.

There is no registration fee and most programs are free.

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