Timeline of LGBT history in New York City

Last updated

New York has a long history of LGBT community building, activism, and culture which extends to the early history of the city.


Timeline of events

Manhattan's Bowery was known to host "fairy resorts", saloons or dance halls for male gays, (known as fairies at the time). These 'resorts' included the venues: Paresis Hall, Little Bucks, Manilla Hall, the Palm Club of Chrystie Street, the Black Rabbit at 183 Bleecker Street, and The Slide at 157 Bleecker Street were the site of many gay and drag queen performers gaining recognition as entertainers in New York. [1] The 1890s gay scene in the Bowery was described by Earl Lind in her autobiography, Autobiography of an Androgyne, published in two volumes in 1919 and 1922.

God of Vengeance (1907), written by Sholem Asch opens as the first commercially produced play on Broadway with a lesbian theme. Soon after, the theatre owner and the entire cast of 12 was arrested and found guilty of obscenity. [2]

Police raid on Eve's Hangout on June 11 results in its closure. Its owner, Eva Kotchever, was arrested, found guilty of obscenity and deported to Europe. She was assassinated at Auschwitz during World War II.

The New York State Assembly amends a public-obscenity code to include a ban of depictions of gayness onstage in what is called 'the padlock bill.' [3]

New York City closes most of the city's best-known gay bars in preparation for the 1939 New York World's Fair.

Courts rule New York State Liquor Authority can legally close down bars that serve "sex variants." [3]

After many LGBT personnel were discharged from military service during World War II, the Quaker Emergency Committee of New York City opens the first social welfare agency for gay people, serving young people arrested on same-sex charges. The group was disbanded in 1954 because of disagreement whether its goals were to 'cure' LGBT persons or to assist them with more basic social and welfare needs. [4]

New York Author James Baldwin publishes the novel Giovanni's Room , which features a gay male narrator. The book was well received by critics. [5]

The first known pro-LGBT radio program, a 90-minute special with Randy Wicker airs on the station, WBAI in New York City.

April 21: New York decides that it can no longer forbid bars from serving gay men and lesbians after activists stage a "Sip-In" at Julius, a bar.

Craig Rodwell opens the Oscar Wilde Memorial Bookshop, the first gay bookstore in the U.S., in Greenwich Village.


Gay “zaps” were first used against New York City Mayor John Lindsay.

The Gay & Lesbian Switchboard of New York is founded.



The Lesbian Herstory Archives is founded by members of the Gay Academic Union, and hosted in Joan Nestle's Upper West Side apartment.



Harvey Milk High School entrance Harvey Milk High School Entrance by David Shankbone.jpg
Harvey Milk High School entrance










See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Stonewall riots</span> 1969 spontaneous uprising for LGBTQIA+ rights

The Stonewall riots, also known as the Stonewall uprising, Stonewall rebellion, or simply Stonewall, were a series of protests by members of the LGBTQ community in response to a police raid that began in the early morning hours of June 28, 1969, at the Stonewall Inn in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of Lower Manhattan in New York City. Patrons of the Stonewall, other Village lesbian and gay bars, trans activists and unhoused LGBT individuals fought back when the police became violent. The riots are widely considered the watershed event that transformed the gay liberation movement and the twentieth-century fight for LGBT rights in the United States.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Gay village</span> Geographical area within a city that is inhabited or frequented by LGBT people

A gay village, also known as a gayborhood, is a geographical area with generally recognized boundaries that is inhabited or frequented by many lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBT) people. Gay villages often contain a number of gay-oriented establishments, such as gay bars and pubs, nightclubs, bathhouses, restaurants, boutiques, and bookstores.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Christopher Street</span> Street in Manhattan, New York

Christopher Street is a street in the West Village neighborhood of the New York City borough of Manhattan. It is the continuation of 9th Street west of Sixth Avenue.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Gay liberation</span> Social and political movement in the 1960s and 70s

The gay liberation movement was a social and political movement of the late 1960s through the mid-1980s in the Western world, that urged lesbians and gay men to engage in radical direct action, and to counter societal shame with gay pride. In the feminist spirit of the personal being political, the most basic form of activism was an emphasis on coming out to family, friends, and colleagues, and living life as an openly lesbian or gay person.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">NYC Pride March</span> Event celebrating the LGBTQ community

The NYC Pride March is an annual event celebrating the LGBTQ community in New York City. The largest pride parade in North America and among the largest pride events in the world, the NYC Pride March attracts tens of thousands of participants and millions of sidewalk spectators each June. The parade route through Lower Manhattan traverses south on Fifth Avenue, through Greenwich Village, passing the Stonewall National Monument, site of the June 1969 riots that launched the modern movement for LGBTQ+ rights.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">LGBT pride</span> Positive stance toward LGBT people

LGBT pride is the promotion of the self-affirmation, dignity, equality, and increased visibility of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people as a social group. Pride, as opposed to shame and social stigma, is the predominant outlook that bolsters most LGBT rights movements. Pride has lent its name to LGBT-themed organizations, institutes, foundations, book titles, periodicals, a cable TV channel, and the Pride Library.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Craig Rodwell</span> American gay rights activist

Craig L. Rodwell was an American gay rights activist known for founding the Oscar Wilde Memorial Bookshop on November 24, 1967 - the first bookstore devoted to gay and lesbian authors - and as the prime mover for the creation of the New York City gay pride demonstration. Rodwell, who was already an activist when he participated in the 1969 Stonewall uprising, is considered by some to be the leading gay rights activist in the early, pre-Stonewall, homophile movement of the 1960s.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Atlanta Pride</span> Annual LGBT event in Atlanta

Atlanta Pride, also colloquially called the Atlanta Gay Pride Festival, is a week-long annual lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) pride festival held in Atlanta, Georgia. Established in 1971, it is one of the oldest and largest pride festivals in the United States. According to the Atlanta Pride Committee, as of 2017, attendance had continually grown to around 300,000. Originally a pride held in June, Atlanta Pride has been held in October every year since 2008, typically on a weekend closest to National Coming Out Day.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">LGBT history in New York</span>

New York state, a state in the northeastern United States, has one of the largest and the most prominent LGBTQ populations in the world. Brian Silverman, the author of Frommer's New York City from $90 a Day, wrote that New York City has "one of the world's largest, loudest, and most powerful" LGBT communities", and "Gay and lesbian culture is as much a part of New York's basic identity as yellow cabs, high-rises, and Broadway theatre". LGBT travel guide Queer in the World states, "The fabulosity of Gay New York is unrivaled on Earth, and queer culture seeps into every corner of its five boroughs". LGBT Americans in New York City constitute by significant margins the largest self-identifying lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender communities in the United States, and the 1969 Stonewall riots in Greenwich Village are widely considered to be the genesis of the modern gay rights movement.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">LGBT history in Switzerland</span>

Switzerland, a country which has long held a stance of neutrality in its relations with other nations, has not been immune to the movement of equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender citizens. Prior to the 20th century, sodomy and other types of sexual intercourse between people of the same sex was held in various levels of legal contempt. Today, the modern LGBT rights movement in Switzerland is related to the larger international movement which developed largely after 1969.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bisexuality in the United States</span> Overview about bisexuality in the United States of America

The first English-language use of the word "bisexual" to refer to sexual orientation occurred in 1892.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">LGBT culture in Philadelphia</span>

The development of LGBT culture in Philadelphia can be traced back to the early 20th century. It exists in current times as a dynamic, diverse, and philanthropically active culture with establishments and events held to promote LGBT culture and rights in Philadelphia and beyond.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">LGBT culture in San Francisco</span> Culture of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in San Francisco, United States

The lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community in San Francisco is one of the largest and most prominent LGBT communities in the United States, and is one of the most important in the history of American LGBT rights and activism alongside New York City. The city itself has been described as "the original 'gay-friendly city'". LGBT culture is also active within companies that are based in Silicon Valley, which is located within the southern San Francisco Bay Area.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">LGBT culture in New York City</span>

New York City has been described as the gay capital of the world and the central node of the LGBTQ+ sociopolitical ecosystem, and is home to one of the world's largest LGBTQ populations and the most prominent. Brian Silverman, the author of Frommer's New York City from $90 a Day, wrote the city has "one of the world's largest, loudest, and most powerful LGBT communities", and "Gay and lesbian culture is as much a part of New York's basic identity as yellow cabs, high-rise buildings, and Broadway theatre". LGBT travel guide Queer in the World states, "The fabulosity of Gay New York is unrivaled on Earth, and queer culture seeps into every corner of its five boroughs". LGBT advocate and entertainer Madonna stated metaphorically, "Anyways, not only is New York City the best place in the world because of the queer people here. Let me tell you something, if you can make it here, then you must be queer."

Chicago has long had a gay neighborhood. Beginning in the 1920s there was active homosexual nightlife in Towertown, adjacent to the Water Tower. Increasing rents forced gay-friendly establishments steadily northwards, moving through Old Town and Lincoln Park along Clark Street and on to Boys Town.

Austin, Texas, has one of the most prominent and active LGBT populations in the United States. Austin was acclaimed by The Advocate in 2012 as part of its Gayest Cities in America, and was recognized by Travel and Leisure as one of America's Best Cities for Gay Travel. Much of Austin's gay nightlife scene is clustered around 4th Street. LGBT activism groups Atticus Circle and Equality Texas are headquartered in Austin.

The following is a timeline of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) history in the 20th century.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">LGBT culture in Baltimore</span>

LGBT culture in Baltimore, Maryland is an important part of the culture of Baltimore, as well as being a focal point for the wider LGBT community in the Baltimore metropolitan area. Mount Vernon, known as Baltimore's gay village, is the central hub of the city's lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender communities.

Stonewall 50 – WorldPride NYC 2019 was a series of LGBTQ events and celebrations in June 2019, marking the 50th anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall riots. It was also the first time WorldPride was held in the United States. Held primarily in the metropolitan New York City area, the theme for the celebrations and educational events was "Millions of moments of Pride." The celebration was the largest LGBTQ event in history, with an official estimate of five million attending Pride weekend in Manhattan alone, including an estimated four million in attendance at the parade. The twelve-hour parade included 150,000 pre-registered participants among 695 groups.

The National LGBTQ Wall of Honor is a memorial wall in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of Manhattan in New York City, dedicated to LGBTQ "pioneers, trailblazers, and heroes". Located inside the Stonewall Inn, the wall is part of the Stonewall National Monument, the first U.S. National Monument dedicated to the country's LGBTQ rights and history. The first fifty nominees were announced in June 2019, and the wall was unveiled on June 27, 2019, as a part of Stonewall 50 – WorldPride NYC 2019 events. Five honorees will be added annually.


  1. Chauncey, George. 1994. Gay New York: Gender, Urban Culture, and the Makings of the Gay Male World, 1890–1940. New York: Basic Books. pp. 33–35.
  2. Asch, Sholem, and Isaac Goldberg. 1918. The God of Vengeance: Drama in Three Acts. Boston: Stratford Co.
  3. 1 2 Chauncey (1994)
  4. Licata, Salvatore J., and Robert P. Petersen. 1985. The gay past: a collection of historical essays. New York: Harrington Park Press. p. 166.
  5. Hicks, Granville. "Tormented Triangle.", The New York Times. October 14, 1956.
  6. Donaldson, Stephen (1995). "The Bisexual Movement's Beginnings in the 70s: A Personal Retrospective". In Tucker, Naomi. Bisexual Politics: Theories, Queries, & Visions. New York: Harrington Park Press. pp. 31–45. ISBN   1-56023-869-0.
  7. Dunlap, David W. (June 16, 2016). "New York's Own Anti-Gay Massacre, in the Village, Is Now Barely Recalled". New York Times. Retrieved June 16, 2016.
  8. “AIDS in New York: A Biography.” New York Magazine.
  9. Altman, Lawrence K., "Rare Cancer Seen in 41 Homosexuals." New York Times. July 3, 1981.
  10. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 AIDS Diagnosis and Persons Living with HIV/AIDS By Year Pre-1981-2012, New York City. Archived 2016-01-17 at the Wayback Machine New York City HIV/AIDS Annual Surveillance Statistics 2012.
  11. “Pictures from a Battlefield. NYMag.com. March 25, 2012.”
  12. "From Brenda Howard to J. Christopher Neal: Bisexual Leaders and Pride | Human Rights Campaign". Hrc.org. 2015-06-30. Archived from the original on July 2, 2015. Retrieved 2015-07-09.
  13. Andy TowleJune 26, 2016 (1999-02-22). "Hillary Clinton Makes Historic Surprise Appearance in NYC Pride Parade: WATCH". Towleroad. Retrieved 2016-06-29.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  14. McPhee, Ryan (January 29, 2018). "RuPaul's Drag Race Peppermint Will Make Her Broadway Debut in Go-Go's Musical Head Over Heels". Playbill . Archived from the original on February 3, 2018. Retrieved February 5, 2018.