New York City has been at the heart of the LGBTQ movement for decades now. The city has a proud history of tolerance and diversity, which is why thousands of people descend on The Big Apple every year to take part in the Pride March. If you want to get a flavor of New York’s LGBTQ scene, there are 10 incredible attractions you just can’t afford to miss.
1. Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center
Located in a former high school building on West 13th Street, New York’s LGBT Center was first opened in 1983. For more than 30 years, the center has been right at the heart of the community. Hundreds of LGBT groups use the building as their base, and thousands visit every week to get advice on everything from HIV to hate crime. There’s also a vibrant arts and culture program based here.
Check out the latest schedule of events before you visit. There’s usually a great art exhibit to peruse, as well as movie discussions, support groups and public speaking events.
2. Stonewall Inn
The Stonewall Inn is probably the most significant LGBT landmark in New York. During the 1960s, the fight for LGBTQ rights was part of the wider civil rights movement. Factions of law enforcement in the city regularly raided gay bars like the mafia-owned Stonewall Inn back then. But things took an unexpected turn when officers arrived at the bar in 1969. A series of violent demonstrations followed — known as the Stonewall Riots. Today, the bar has become a symbol of the LGBTQ movement and a reminder of the struggle for equality.
The Stonewall Inn is now an officially recognized national monument — but it also happens to be a fantastic nightspot. Call in for a cold beer every weekday afternoon to take advantage of two-for-one specials. There’s always a great drag act on stage every Tuesday evening, and Saturday nights are devoted to a DJ-led dance night. This place is still the heart and soul of the New York Pride movement, so make sure it’s on your to-do list.
3. Julius’ Bar
Julius’ Bar on West 10th Street is considered by many to be the oldest gay bar in the city. This famous watering hole first opened its doors in 1864, but it wasn’t until the 1950s that it became a meeting place for members of New York’s LGBT community. Like the Stonewall Inn, Julius’ has a proud place in history. During the 1960s, a state law prohibited the sale of alcohol to “disorderly groups.” Inexplicably, this vague term included all gay people. A major protest against the law took place at Julius’ — which started a chain of events that led to the law’s repeal.
You’ll be glad to know that Julius’ is still open for business. Make sure you check out the renowned selection of burgers on offer — which cost as little as $6. And there are discount cocktails and beers available between 4 p.m. and 9 p.m., Monday through Saturday.
4. Lesbian Herstory Archives
Located on 14th Street in Brooklyn, the Lesbian Herstory Archives was started to address the growing problem of sexism within the gay community during the 1960s. The building in Park Slope is said to hold the world’s largest collection of literature, research, historical texts and opinion pieces in the world.
Make sure you commit at least three hours to the Lesbian Herstory Archives. There are thousands of texts, books and artefacts to pore over, as well as an ongoing selection of traveling exhibits on issues relating to the lesbian community.
5. New York City AIDS Memorial
Located in St. Vincent’s Village, West Village, the New York City AIDS Memorial is a striking work of art that commemorates the people who suffered with the disease during the 1980s epidemic. Designers Mateo Paiva, Lily Lim and Esteban Erlich were commissioned to design the monument after winning an international design competition. Look closely, and you’ll see excerpts from Walt Whitman’s poem “Song of Myself.” The memorial also features a stunning water feature made from granite.
To support the maintenance of the memorial and ensure the city’s massive loss is never forgotten, you can purchase a limited-edition print — created by Kobi Benezri.
6. Transy House
Transy House on 16th Street in Brooklyn was a refuge for people who refused to conform to traditional genders. Many of these people had been kicked out of homes or refused a place in one of the city’s shelters. The home was welcoming members of New York’s trans community during the 1990s and early 2000s, including renowned LGBTQ activist Sylvia Rivera.
Trans women Chelsea Goodwin and Rusty Mae Moore ran the home — and lived there — until its eventual closure in 2008. Although the home is now a private residence, take the opportunity to get a photo outside a property that saved countless lives.
7. Alice Austen House
Alice Austen was a groundbreaking photographer who earned a global reputation for her depictions of working-class New Yorkers. Many of her most renowned photos featured her friends pushing the archaic boundaries of traditional gender norms. The house was recently awarded the status of National LGBT Historic Site.
Today, the house is a museum, which showcases both the life and works of Austen. Fascinating exhibitions come and go throughout the year, so check out the website to find out what’s on when you’re in town. Contact the museum’s curators to see if you can take part in any of the wonderful events held at Alice Austen House every year. You never know; you could end up tending to Alice’s garden. There are also regular arts and crafts fairs held here, which feature original works from local artists.
8. Gay Liberation Monument
If you decide to visit the Stonewall Inn, make sure you take a few minutes to take a close look at the Gay Liberation Monument — which is across the street. The work of acclaimed artist George Segal, Gay Liberation takes pride of place in Christopher Park. Ironically, the fight to get planning permission for the monument took nearly a decade, as countless objections were made on the grounds of “moral decency.”
The monument depicts two couples — two male partners and two female partners. The overriding messages are freedom and the normalization of public displays of affection within same-sex relationships.
9. The Bartschland Follies
Join superstar of the LGBTQ community Susanne Bartsch as she dazzles fans with songs, burlesque routines and avant-garde iconography. While Bartsch is always the star of the show, she’s always joined on stage by equally talented drag divas and performers. Located on West 27th Street inside the McKittrick Hotel, The Bartschland Follies is a celebration of extravagance and fabulousness.
There are several branded entertainment events to choose from here. For example, On Top is a celebration of music and dance where everyone can get involved. Kunst is a live DJ extravaganza where pumping tunes and flamboyant fashion come together.
10. NYC Pride
NYC Pride is an LGBTQ movement, and it takes over the city during an extravaganza of music, fashion and free expression every June. All you need in order to take part is a sense of fun and an open heart. The official procession begins on 36th Street and Fifth Avenue, and concludes on Christopher Street — the unofficial home of NYC’s gay community.
NYC Pride is one of the most popular LGBTQ events in the world. It attracts tens of thousands of people, so expect to be surrounded by huge crowds for the duration of the event. It’s also worth bearing in mind that temperatures can touch 100 degrees Fahrenheit at this time of year. Rather than walk the entire length of the parade, choose a spot along the route that is close to bars, restaurants and other participating outlets. There are water tents located along the route, as well as toilets — so check the map before planning your day.
If you’re planning to take part in the parade, you’ll need to register by March at the latest. Whether you’re bringing a float or you’re part of a dance troupe, you’ll need to abide by NYC Pride’s rules — one of which limits the number of participants in a single party to 200.
If you want to experience NYC Pride in comfort and style, purchase a VIP pass for The Grandstand Experience. You’ll get a seat in the grandstand on the corner of Fifth Avenue and 25th Street. Not only that, passholders can use VIP restrooms, enjoy exclusive live entertainment, and feast on a selection of snacks and beverages.
New York City is home to a myriad of fantastic LGBTQ events, landmarks and attractions. Make sure you don’t miss a thing by planning every aspect of your next visit with the help of Gosur.