Queens Liberation Front

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Queens Liberation Front
Queens Liberation Front marching in New York City in 1973.jpg
Queens Liberation Front members (center: Lee Brewster) marching in New York City in 1973. Source: Transgender Archive.
Founded October 31, 1969 (1969-10-31)
Key people
Lee Brewster and Bunny Eisenhower
Formerly called

Queens Liberation Front was a transvestite rights advocacy organization in New York City formed in 1969 and active in the 1970s.


Queens Liberation Front was founded as Queens by Lee Brewster in 1969.[1]:83 At his first ball in February 1969, Brewster announced plans to form the group, with October 31, 1969 (Halloween - particularly popular holiday in the drag community) to be its formal founding date.[2]

The organization was founded in part to oppose the exclusion of drag and transgender visibility from the first Christopher Street Liberation Day.[3]


Queens Liberation Front participated in many activities to advocate for the rights of LGBT people, particularly transvestites.[4] The organization also participated in LGBT events such as the LGBT Pride March.[1]:113[5] Members sometimes wore drag while lobbying New York state legislators.[3]

The organization often collaborated with other local LGBT organizations, such as Gay Activists Alliance and Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries.[5][6]

In the early 1970s, the organizations successfully used litigation to overturn a New York City ordinance against cross-dressing.[1]:87

In 1973, Queens Liberation Front agreed to a compromise amendment to New York City's anti-discrimination ordinance that added sexual orientation to the ordinance, but clarified the ordinance did not cover cross-dressing. The organization's director, Bebe Scarpie, met with the bill's sponsor at City Hall and agreed to the compromise. The organization's lawyer, Richard Levidow, believed the exclusionary clause violated the United States Constitution and was therefore unenforceable.[7]

Lesbian Feminist Liberation opposed the performance by drag queens at the 1973 LGBT Pride March in New York City. As they passed out flyers, Sylvia Rivera, of Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries, took the microphone from emcee Vito Russo and spoke against the sentiment and spoke of the harassment and arrests of drag queens on the street, some of whom had been involved with the Stonewall riots. Lesbian Feminist Liberation's Jean O'Leary then insisted on responding by denouncing drag as misogynist and criticizing the march for being too male-dominated. This prompted Queens Liberation Front's Lee Brewster to denounce anti-transgender lesbian feminists. The increasingly angry crowd only calmed when Bette Midler, who heard on the radio in her Greenwich Village apartment, arrived, took the microphone, and began singing "Friends". This was one of many events in early 1970s where lesbian and transgender activists clashed.[1]:113[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Stein, Marc (2012). Rethinking the Gay and Lesbian Movement. Google Books. Routledge. ISBN 9780415874106. Retrieved June 30, 2015.
  2. ^ "Lee Brewster Dies at 57 - Pioneering Transvestite Activist". Gay Today. Retrieved June 30, 2015.
  3. ^ a b Stryker, Susan (January 7, 2009). "Transgender History". Google Books. Seal Press. p. 87. ISBN 9780786741366. Retrieved June 30, 2015.
  4. ^ Hanhardt, Christina B. (November 13, 2013). Safe Space: Gay Neighborhood History and the Politics of Violence. Google Books. Duke University Press. p. 124. ISBN 9780822378860. Retrieved June 30, 2015.
  5. ^ a b Cohen, Stephen (November 21, 2007). The Gay Liberation Youth Movement in New York. Google Books. Routledge. p. 142. ISBN 9781135905682. Retrieved June 30, 2015.
  6. ^ Glisson, Susan M. (2006). "The Human Tradition in the Civil Rights Movement". Google Books. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 325. ISBN 9780742544093. Retrieved June 30, 2015.
  7. ^ "Interview With an Actual Stonewall Riot Veteran: The Ciswashing of Stonewall Must End!". The TransAdvocate. February 18, 2013. Retrieved June 30, 2015.
  8. ^ Sycamore, Mattilda (April 22, 2008). That's Revolting!: Queer Strategies for Resisting Assimilation. Google Books. Soft Skull Press. ISBN 9781593763145. Retrieved June 28, 2015.