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A Peek Back at the Village’s LGBT History

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The Village erupted in riotous celebrations this past weekend at the news of passage of marriage equality legislation, which carried over into the annual Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride March that ends in Greenwich Village.  Of course the Village and East Village hold a special, even unique, place in the long struggle for lesbian and gay rights, with the June 1969 riots against police at the Stonewall Inn, a bar in the West Village, considered by many the start of the modern gay rights movement.

But this is only one of many ways in which our neighborhoods have played a crucial role in this movement, and GVSHP is proud of its role in documenting and highlighting the Village’s rich and sometimes hidden history of LGBTQ culture and protest.

Late in the 1990s, GVSHP collaborated with the Organization of Lesbian and Gay Architects and Designers to nominate the Stonewall Inn and its adjacent public space on the National Register of Historic Places.  The proposal was successful, and in 1999 Stonewall became the first site listed on the National Register for Historic Places for its association with gay and lesbian history.

1966 Sip-In at Julius'
1966 Sip-In at Julius'

But protest in the Village had been fomenting long before the 1969 Stonewall Riots. Last year, GVSHP was honored to host a talk about the not-so-well remembered Sip-In at Julius’ bar on April 21, 1966, where members of New York’s Mattachine Society, a group of homosexual activists, pushed the limits at this still active gay bar. And in 2009, GVSHP featured a lecture about the Daughters of Bilitis, the first lesbian rights group in the U.S., which was based Greenwich Village in the 1950s.

This weekend, GVSHP turned its attention to the LGBTQ history of the East Village, where a walking tour with Andrea Coyle of the Lower East Side History Project strolled past the early homosexual bordellos of the Bowery and the stomping grounds of twentieth-century artists such as Keith Haring and Andy Warhol.

GVSHP is proud to promote the complex and rich history of LGBTQ culture and protest in the Village. In that vein, stay tuned this week for in-depth posts about the Stonewall Riots, the drag history of the East Village’s Pyramid Club, and more!

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