June is Pride month. There are festivities celebrating Pride in hundreds of cities across the globe, including PrideFest in NYC this Sunday. The first Pride march, known as Christopher Street Liberation Day, took place in New York in 1970 to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the Stonewall Riots in Greenwich Village. There were also marches that day in Los Angeles and San Francisco, and the number of participating cities grew each year.
The Village is a treasure trove of historic sites of great significance to the LGBTQIA+ movement and community. Here are five:
Opened in 1864, Julius’ Bar is reputed to be the oldest gay bar in the city. The bar had become widely known as a gay bar by the early 1950’s and was a meeting place for the Mattachine Society, an early gay rights organization in New York. A "Sip In" at the bar, organized in 1966, paved the way for abolishing state liquor regulations that had effectively banned establishments from serving alcohol to gay patrons. Today, Julius’ Bar is on the National Register of Historic Places and still operates as a gay bar.
Just around the corner from Julius’ Bar is the popular gay bar the Stonewall Inn, which used to be the only gay bar in the city where men could dance with each other. The Stonewall Inn is famous today as the site of the Stonewall Riots, when violent protests erupted after a police raid in 1969. The Stonewall Inn is widely regarded as the birthplace of the gay rights movement. Like Julius’ Bar, the Stonewall Inn is recognized as a historic place. It is also the first National Historic Monument designated for an LGBT historic site.
St. Vincent’s Hospital
Formerly the third oldest hospital in the city, St. Vincent's was one of the first institutions to treat HIV and AIDS patients, and it was once known as ‘ground zero’ for the epidemic. Although St. Vincent's closed in 2010 and was demolished in 2013, it is not forgotten: across the street from the former hospital is New York City's AIDS Memorial, memorializing forever the hospital's important role in helping AIDS' earliest victims.
Across the street from the Stonewall Inn is Christopher Park, home to a permanent art piece called “Gay Liberation,” which was installed in 1992. The four statues commemorate the Stonewall Riots and are dedicated to the gay rights movement.
The Church of the Village
The Church of the Village (formerly, the Metropolitan-Duane United Methodist Church) was the site of the first formal meeting of PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays). PFLAG was founded in 1973 by Jeanne Manford, who wanted to organize with other parents of gay and lesbian youth and to show support of her son Morty, who had been beaten while distributing flyers. Today, PFLAG has 400 chapters nationwide and 200,000 members, and serves to provide resources for the LGBTQ community.
Happy Pride everyone!