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LGBTQ+ History in the Image Archive: Utilizing the New Tag Feature

A new and exciting feature of Village Preservation’s sizable Historic Image Archive is the ability to filter images by category, or “tag.” We have painstakingly tagged every single one of our nearly 5,000 historic photographs (an ever growing number), so that users can easily view images organized by their interests.

As an example, the “LGBTQ+” tag currently yields 277 results. These include landmark buildings where important moments in the gay rights movement have occurred, such as the Stonewall Inn, or significant LGBTQ+ figures have lived; there are photographs of recent protests, and marches long past; drag shows that have taken place in historic venues, including theaters and nightclubs; musicians, dancers, artists, and more, all related to LGBTQ+ history in Greenwich Village, the East Village, and NoHo.

While it was always possible to view these images by collection, it is now even easier to sort according to a theme. Let’s take a look at a few snapshots from the array of LGBTQ+ tagged images:

Friends outside the Gay Community Center (now LGBT Center), 208 West 13th Street, June 1983, from the Robert Fisch Collection.

A good number of the LGBTQ+ tagged images feature, unsurprisingly, people! This photograph was taken in June 1983 outside the Gay Community Center (now LGBT Center) at 208 West 13th Street. It is part of the collection by Robert Fisch, a longtime Greenwich Village resident whose images tend to focus on his youth in the Village in the 1980s, landmarks and familiar sights of the neighborhood and city in the decades since, the former World Trade Center and 9/11, and the annual NYC Gay Pride Parade.

His interest in photography meshed with his coming of age in the LGBT community, and he documented his attendance at meetings of “Gay and Lesbian Youth of New York” at the Gay And Lesbian Community Center on West 13th Street, as in the above image. A few of his photos from those meetings and the annual Gay Pride Parade appear in the 2019 book, We Are Everywhere: Protest, Power, and Pride in the History of Queer Liberation, by Matthew Riemer and Leighton Brown.

“Grandma For Gays” Norma Issacs with son E.G. Smith at Fifth Ave. & 28th Street, Gay Pride Parade, June 28, 1992, from the Robert Fisch Collection.

Another image from Fisch’s collection, this one captures the “Grandmas for Gays” float during the Gay Pride Parade on June 28th, 1992. Though this particular photograph was shot on Fifth Avenue and 28th Street, the Parade (also often referred to as the Pride March) has always had strong ties to the Village, and typically terminates by Washington Square Park.

Masked “Gay Liberation” Statues, Christopher Park, from Pandemic and Protest, 2020-2022: the Marjorie Zien Collection.

Another collection that features a number of LGBTQ+ images is “Pandemic and Protest, 2020-2022: the Marjorie Zien Collection.” A Greenwich Village resident and photographer, Zien took a series of photographs in 2020-2022 that showcase a neighborhood in a period of protest and reflection, responding to the pandemic, the Black Lives Matter movement, the 2020 election, and more. This image shows the iconic “Gay Liberation” statues within Christopher Park, which is located across the street from Stonewall and is a part of the Stonewall National Historic Landmark designation, masked during the Covid-19 pandemic.

This image, from the “Jillian Jonas Collection — Downtown Drag + Performance in the 1990s,” is one of thousands that Jonas took of drag performances at the legendary Boy Bar on St. Mark’s Place in the East Village, where she was the house photographer in the mid-1990s.

Her pictures capture a golden age of LGBTQ+ nightlife and performance, as well as an edgy slice of life when drag and blurred boundaries of gender were just beginning to surface in the broader public consciousness, largely through this vibrant local scene.

Lady Bunny backstage at Wigstock, Greenwich Village waterfront (near West 11th/Perry Streets), Sept 4, 1994, from the Jillian Jonas Collection — Downtown Drag+Performance in the 1990s.

This is another one of Jonas’ images, captured backstage at the “Wigstock” festival, along the Greenwich Village waterfront in September 1994. Beyond her thorough documentation of Boy Bar, Jonas also photographed behind the scenes at Wigstock, Pyramid Club, the Gay Pride Festival, Jackie 60, and various other downtown nightlife and performance venues, giving us a rare and detailed glimpse into this important era of LGBT and performance art history.

Bobby Miller and Sherry Vine, Theater Couture’s “The Bad Weed” ‘73, Pyramid Club, 101 Avenue A, July 24, 1994, from the Jillian Jonas Collection — Downtown Drag+Performance in the 1990s Part II.

One more by Jonas — this time from “Part II” of her collection — is this shot of Bobby Miller and Sherry Vine performing at the Pyramid Club at 101 Avenue A on July 24th, 1994. Most of the images in the archive each have several tags, conveniently located at the top of the page, so you can toggle between different themes as your curiosity guides you. This one, for instance, is tagged as “LGBTQ+,” “People,” and “East Village/Lower East Side.” Just about all of the images have a neighborhood/location tag, gathering all of the photographs in our holdings for a given neighborhood.

To check out the image tagging for yourself, click here to access the archive, select whichever tag(s) you are interested in, and then hit “apply.” You can view one tag at a time, or as many as you’d like. And whether you’ve accessed an image by this method or directly within a collection, all of the tags relevant to an image appear hyperlinked at the top of its page, so you can see how images are organized, and easily visit any of the tags. Have fun exploring Village Preservation’s Historic Image Archive!

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