GLAD to Honor Reproductive Justice, Civil Rights, and Health Equity Leaders Byllye Avery and Ngina Lythcott at Summer Party in Provincetown
41st annual event marks in-person return to the Pilgrim Monument and Provincetown Museum after two years.
“As activists, we must remember the importance of celebrating ourselves and each and every step forward that we make. That’s how we’ll survive these challenging times.”
–Byllye Avery and Ngina Lythcott
GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) will honor Byllye Avery and Ngina Lythcott, renowned national leaders for reproductive justice, civil rights, and health equity, and noted civic leaders in Provincetown, at its annual Summer Party on July 23. Drag chanteuse Varla Jean Merman will be the celebrity emcee for the festivities, which takes place at the Pilgrim Monument and Provincetown Museum at 4:00 p.m.
“We’re excited to gather in person again to honor Byllye and Ngina for their commitment to improving the health and well-being of Black women and other underserved communities, especially in the area of reproductive health, including access to abortion,” said Janson Wu, GLAD’s Executive Director. “It is especially important to lift up their work and their example after the Supreme Court’s rollback of Roe v. Wade, to inspire a new wave of leaders to continue the fight for true reproductive justice and health equity for women, LGBTQ+ people, and people of color.”
Avery’s work as a health care activist and reproductive justice advocate stretches back to the 1970s, when she co-founded the Gainesville Women’s Health Center in Florida in 1974, the city’s first abortion and gynecological care clinic, in response to the lack of access to reproductive health care among low-income Black women in the community. In 1978, she helped found Birthplace, an alternative birthing center also located in Gainesville.
Avery founded the National Black Women’s Health Project in 1983 in Atlanta. Now known as the Black Women’s Health Imperative, it is the only national organization exclusively dedicated to improving the health and wellbeing of Black Women. The project stemmed from her work as a board member of the National Women’s Health Network and kicked off with The Conference of Black Women’s Health Issues, which drew 2,000 women to the Spelman College campus in 1983 to address topics such as domestic violence, diabetes, sexual abuse, nutrition, sexuality, childbirth, mental health, and holistic wellness. As part of her work running the organization, Avery spearheaded the production of the 1987 documentary film “On Becoming a Woman: Mothers and Daughters Talking to Each Other,” in which two generations of Black women discuss menstruation, sex, love, and communication. In 1989, Avery was recognized for this work with a MacArthur Fellowship, commonly known as the “Genius Grant.”
In 2002, she created the Avery Institute for Social Change to focus on healthcare reform and educating lawmakers on what women needed in the Affordable Care Act.
Avery has written and lectured widely on the impacts of race, class, and sex on women’s healthcare. She has also served on the board of Outer Cape Health Services.
Lythcott has had an equally long career as a public health practitioner and health advocate. In fact, when she and Avery met in 1989, Lythcott was the director of the Health Promotion Resource Center at Morehouse School of Medicine as well as a faculty member. She then joined the National Black Women’s Health Project’s Wellness Program advisory board.
Lythcott was the dean of students at Dartmouth and Swarthmore Colleges and in the Schools of Public Health at Columbia and Boston Universities.
A long-term breast cancer survivor, Lythcott has been active with several organizations working to eradicate the disease, including the Intercultural Cancer Council, where she is a current board member.
Additionally, Lythcott has long been active in the American Public Health Association. She has done extensive community-based health promotion/disease prevention work with low-income members of diverse, urban, and rural communities, using a community organization and development model. She has also worked in Ghana, Tanzania, Brazil, Nigeria, and South Africa.
She is currently a member of the Provincetown School Committee.
Avery and Lythcott are as dedicated to each other as they are to social justice. The two have been in a committed relationship for 33 years and a married couple since their 2005 wedding at the Provincetown Pilgrim Monument. Both women currently serve as advisory board members of the feminist health and reproductive justice organization Our Bodies Ourselves.
“It’s a high honor to be recognized by GLAD, an organization that shares our commitment to justice, lived equality, and equity,” said Avery and Lythcott. “We must remain committed to every women’s access to quality healthcare, including abortion, and our right to live and love as we choose. We must all recommit to engaging in this work that saves and changes lives, especially now—as our hard-won rights as women, LGBTQ+ people, Black people, and people of color are rolled back or otherwise threatened. As activists, we must remember the importance of celebrating ourselves and each and every step forward that we make. That’s how we’ll survive these challenging times.”
In addition to honoring Avery and Lythcott, GLAD’s Summer Party offers spectacular views, a fun-filled live auction, delicious food, open bar, and fun kids’ activities. Children are welcome to attend at no charge. Varla Jean Merman will host a fabulous and exciting live auction featuring custom art, travel experiences, family adventures, and more. For those who can’t make it to Provincetown for the party, GLAD is also hosting an online silent auction to allow guests to participate in the fun from anywhere. Alix Ritchie and Marty Davis are the 2022 Summer Party’s High Tide sponsors.
This year’s Summer Party marks the event’s return to Provincetown after a two-year absence due to health and safety concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The safety and well-being of our supporters continue to be paramount. For that reason, proof of COVID-19 vaccination is required for entry to the festivities. Social distancing and masks are highly encouraged. For additional COVID-19 safety information and to purchase tickets, visit the event page.