LGBT+ Landmarks In New York
LGBT+ historical and cultural highlights in the Big Apple.
For many LGBT+ Americans, moving to New York has been a given. It’s the place you go to escape small-town conservatism and find your tribe. In more recent years, social attitudes have liberalized and New York real estate has skyrocketed. Moving to New York is less of a necessity, and in many cases, not financially prudent.
That being said, New York remains a gay mecca and one of the world’s greatest cultural melting pots. You’ll find LGBT- landmarks throughout the city. Some are well known, others less so. Here are our highlights: the LGBT+ landmarks you need to see at least once.
This is the most famous gay bar in New York, and the world, come to think of it. The Stonewall Inn was raided by police in 1969. It was pretty routine: gay bars were often raided in those days. During a raid, people would often be arrested, their names would be printed in the papers the following day, causing them to lose their jobs in many cases and face being ostracised by their families. On that fateful night in 1969, the patrons fought back, kickstarting the gay liberation movement.
WorldPride 2019 was held in New York and it marked the fiftieth anniversary of The Stonewall Uprising. The Stonewall Inn is the most iconic LGBT+ landmark in New York City. It’s located in Greenwich Village and it’s still going strong.
New York in the late 70s and early 80s was disco central. Crime rates may have been very high, but people were partying like crazy. The spirit of the time was embodied by Studio 54. It seemed as if the party would never end.
A mysterious illness began to spread, disproportionately affecting the gay community, and the party came to an abrupt end. The best part of a generation of LGBT+ people was wiped out by the AIDS crisis. The AIDS Memorial commemorates the lives of over a hundred thousand citizens who died from the disease. It was designed by the artist Jenny Holzer.
Is there such a thing as a gay church? Maybe Studio 54 once served such a purpose. These days, you could say watching Drag Race is like a queer holy communion. There is, however, an LGBT+ church and it’s in New York - where else would it be?
In the 60s and 70s, Judson Memorial Church was a haven for LGBT+ gatherings and avant-garde art. During the AIDS crisis, it became an activist church and provided support to those suffering from the disease. It even hosts an annual Gay Pride Sunday Service. A considerable percentage of its congregation is LGBT+.
Founded by activists in the 90s, this bookstore hosts many LGBT+ events. It’s a great place to browse, read and enjoy a bit of downtime in an otherwise hectic city. All profits are donated to charities aiding the homeless.
An absolute must-see, this one of New York’s key LGBT+ landmarks. It’s located in SoHo and it’s entirely dedicated to showcasing the works of queer artists. Some works are by world-famous artists, like Andy Warhol and David Hockney. Others are by lesser-known artists whose works may have been forgotten were it not for the Leslie-Lohman Museum.
The world’s largest collection of lesbian documents can be found here in Park Slope, Brooklyn. Great for academic researchers and hobbyists wanting to improve their knowledge of Herstory. Many lives and events would be lost to history were it not for archives like this one.
The Ansonia Hotel on the Upper West Side may look like any other upmarket New York hotel. It’s a major LGBT+ landmark: this is where a young Bette Midler was discovered when she was performing in gay bathhouses in the 70s.
Carnegie Hall is one of the most famous theatres in New York. It’s where Judy Garland played her legendary show back in 1961. The live album of that show is owned by all gay men of a certain age. Rufus Wainwright recreated her show at Carnegie Hall in 2006.
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