Timeline of LGBT history in New York City

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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[edit]

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, and the Black Rabbit at 183 Chrystie Street, and 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]

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 WWII, 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.

The Alcohol laws of 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, on April 21.

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

The Metropolitan Community Church, an LGBT Christian Church, opened on West 36th Street.


  • Saturday 28 June – Stonewall riots
  • In November Craig Rodwell, Fred Sargaent, Ellen Broidy, and Linda Rhodes proposed the first gay Pride parade to be held in New York City by way of a resolution at the Eastern Regional Conference of Homophile Organizations. The parade was originally named "Christopher Street Liberation Day." It was held Sunday, June 28, 1970. Bisexual activist Brenda Howard is known as the "Mother of Pride", for her work in coordinating the parade. Howard also originated the idea for a week-long series of events around Pride Day which became the genesis of the annual LGBT Pride celebrations that are now held around the world, including in New York City, every June.[6][7] Additionally, Howard along with fellow LGBT Activists Robert A. Martin (aka Donny the Punk) and L. Craig Schoonmaker are credited with popularizing the word "Pride" to describe these festivities.[8] As LGBT rights activist Tom Limoncelli put it, "The next time someone asks you why LGBT Pride marches exist or why [LGBT] Pride Month is June tell them 'A bisexual woman named Brenda Howard thought it should be.'"[9]

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

The Gay & Lesbian Switchboard of New York is founded.


  • “Ithaca Statement on Bisexuality,” by the Quaker Committee of Friends on Bisexuality, is published in The Advocate.
  • The National Bisexual Liberation Group first forms in New York. The group issued the first bisexual newsletter, The Bisexual Expression.
  • Parents & Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) is founded in New York after cofounder Jeanne Manford held a sign in the Christopher Street Liberation Day Parade. The sign read; “Parents of gays: unite in support of our children," in support of her openly gay son, Morty.

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

  • November 19: An armed man targeting gay bars kills two and wounds six in Greenwich Village.[10]
  • January 15: Nick Rock becomes first known AIDS death in New York City.[11]
  • July 3: The New York Times publishes the first news article about AIDS.[12]
  • By 1983, there had been 860 cumulative deaths by AIDS in New York.[13]


  • By 1984, there had been 1,969 cumulative deaths by AIDS in New York.[13]


  • The first school for openly lesbian and gay teenagers opens in New York City, Harvey Milk High School.
  • By 1985, there had been 3,798 cumulative deaths by AIDS in New York.[13]


  • By 1986, there had been 6,505 cumulative deaths by AIDS in New York.[13]


  • ACT UP (the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power) is founded in New York City at the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center.[14]
  • BiNet USA, an organization which develops Bisexual community resources and educational information was founded. BiNet is the oldest national bisexuality organization in the United States.
  • By 1987, there had been 9,851 cumulative deaths by AIDS in New York.[13]



  • By 1989, there had been 19,492 cumulative deaths by AIDS in New York.[13]




See also[edit]


  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. ^ a b 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. ^ "Pressroom". Thirteen. Archived from the original on January 18, 2008. Retrieved 2013-08-19. 
  7. ^ The Gay Pride Issue: Picking Apart The Origin of Pride Archived July 12, 2015, at the Wayback Machine.
  8. ^ Dynes, Wayne R. Pride (trope), Homolexis
  9. ^ http://web.archive.org/web/20060214163344/www.bisquish.com/squishive/2005/07/27/in-memoriam-brenda-howard-2/[dead link]
  10. ^ 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. 
  11. ^ “AIDS in New York: A Biography.” New York Magazine.
  12. ^ Altman, Lawrence K., "Rare Cancer Seen in 41 Homosexuals." New York Times. July 3, 1981.
  13. ^ a b c d e f g h AIDS Diagnosis and Persons Living with HIV/AIDS By Year Pre-1981-2012, New York City. New York City HIV/AIDS Annual Surveillance Statistics 2012.
  14. ^ “Pictures from a Battlefield. NYMag.com. March 25, 2012.”
  15. ^ "From Brenda Howard to J. Christopher Neal: Bisexual Leaders and Pride | Human Rights Campaign". Hrc.org. 2015-06-30. Retrieved 2015-07-09. 
  16. ^ by Andy TowleJune 26, 2016 (1999-02-22). "Hillary Clinton Makes Historic Surprise Appearance in NYC Pride Parade: WATCH". Towleroad. Retrieved 2016-06-29.