Gay Pride history lesson: LGBT sites in NYC
Gay Pride isn't just about partying. Find out why we celebrate each June at these historic locations.
Wed Jun 13 2012
Photograph: Syd London
The Gay Pride movement has come a long way since the Stonewall riots. With June being National LGBT Pride Month, and NYC's 2012 Gay Pride weekend upon us, now's the time to explore these local historic sites and collections—proof that Gay Pride is about much more than partying and parades.
RECOMMENDED: Full coverage of Gay Pride in NYC
The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center (the Center)
For almost 30 years, the Center has offered a space for groups, services and events that strengthen and enrich the LGBT community in New York. The Center originally hosted 60 groups that met regularly; today, it has more than 300. Several history-making organizations grew here, including Queer Nation, GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) and ACT UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power). The Center is also home to The National Archive of LGBT History, which works to preserve the community's heritage and make it accessible through exhibits, publications and scholarly research.
Opened in 1864, this dive is the Village's oldest bar and the city's oldest gay bar. It started to attract gay customers in the 1950s, though management would sometimes deny service to queer customers—or even kick them out. In April of 1966, members of the New York chapter of the Mattachine Society (one of the first gay organizations in America) staged a "sip in" at the bar and helped change the legality of bar service in New York.
The Stonewall Inn
This is where it all started: The Stonewall riots began here on the night of June 28, 1969. It closed down that same year, but reopened in 1990 as a bar occupying half the original space (the other half is the nail salon next door). In June 1999, Stonewall, along with Christopher Park and the surrounding neighborhood streets, was placed on the National Register of Historic Places—the first LGBT site to be listed. Today it continues to attract visitors who want to celebrate where Pride began.
Gay Liberation at Christopher Park
Several thousand rioters filled the streets during the Stonewall riots, with much of the action centered around the petite 0.19 acre Christopher Park; these days, it's a symbol of Gay Pride. Sculptor George Segal's Gay Liberation, featuring bronze statues of two couples painted white, was installed here in 1992.
Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art
Charles Leslie and Fritz Lohman began collecting and showing art created by LGBT artists in their Soho loft in 1969. They founded the Leslie/Lohman Gay Art Foundation more than two decades later in 1990. It moved from its tiny Prince Street location to its current home in 2006. Last year the Foundation was granted a provisional charter for official museum status by the New York State Board of Regents, making it the world's first museum devoted to work by LGBT artists. The spot is home to six to eight major exhibitions each year, as well as film screenings, plays, poetry readings and panel discussions. Its permanent collection includes works by Andy Warhol, Delmas Howe and Jean Cocteau.
The Lesbian Herstory Archives
Home to the world's largest collection of materials by and about lesbians, this organization was founded in 1973 by a group of women from the Gay Academic Union, who wanted a better representation of their history. In 1993, the library moved to its current town-house location in Park Slope. Here, you'll find vintage books, newsletters, lesbian erotica, photos, CDs, DVDs, artworks and manuscripts. There are also community gathering spaces, volunteer opportunities and group tours available (by appointment only).