OUT OF THE CLOSET, INTO THE SPOT­LIGHT

A new project iden­ti­fied about 400 LGBT sites across the city that have shaped his­tory, and ad­vo­cates hope New York­ers will ex­plore them.

Metro USA (New York) - - News - KRISTIN TOUS­SAINT kristin.tous­saint@metro.us

When the Stonewall Inn in Green­wich Vil­lage was des­ig­nated a Na­tional Mon­u­ment in 2016, it was the first and only his­toric site out of about 92,000 in the Na­tional Park Sys­tem to be rec­og­nized for its con­nec­tion to the LGBT com­mu­nity. Af­ter a po­lice raid of the gay bar in 1969, ri­ots there sparked the gay rights move­ment.

Now, in 2018, there are still less than 20 sites on the Na­tional Reg­is­ter of His­toric Places rec­og­nized for their tie to LGBT his­tory, out of more than 93,000 prop­er­ties across the coun­try, said his­to­rian Jay Shock­ley.

The New York City LGBT His­toric Sites Project, which Shock­ley co-founded with Ken Lust­bader and An­drew Dolkart, has been re­spon­si­ble for the na­tional list­ing of six of those sites.

But that’s just the be­gin­ning. Through their project, they’ve iden­ti­fied hun­dreds of his­toric LGBT sites across all five bor­oughs that show the time­line of that com­mu­nity way be­fore, and be­yond, Stonewall.

LGBT his­tory pre­dates Stonewall by hun­dreds of years, Lust­bader said, and the project has iden­ti­fied about 400 prop­er­ties around New York City from the 17th cen­tury to the year 2000, and they’re con­tin­u­ally adding more.

“This is a cul­tural her­itage ini­tia­tive,” he said. “It’s about place-based his­tory, like res­i­dences, per­for­mance venues, com­mem­o­ra­tions — show­ing that LGBT his­tory is Amer­i­can his­tory by cre­at­ing a phys­i­cal land­scape.” These sites are listed on the project’s web­site at ny­clgbt­sites.org via an in­ter­ac­tive map, and the founders hope peo­ple use that to cre­ate their own his­tor­i­cal tour of the city. And, these places aren’t just in­ter­est­ing or rel­e­vant to those

within the LGBT com­mu­nity, they say.

“We’re the only project, as far as we know, in the United States that looks at it both ways, [mean­ing] the in­flu­ence of the LGBT com­mu­nity on Amer­i­can cul­ture, not just sites that are im­por­tant to the com­mu­nity it­self,” Shock­ley said.

They’ve high­lighted LGBT artists who have in­flu­enced all sorts, like where au­thor Tru­man Capote lived to build­ings de­signed by LGBT ar­chi­tects.

“What they’re try­ing to do is bring LGBT his­tory out of the closet and into the spot­light, be­cause LGBT his­tory is New York City his­tory, is Amer­i­can his­tory,” said Kerry McCarthy, pro­gram di­rec­tor for arts and his­toric preser­va­tion with the New York Com­mu­nity Trust.

The Trust is a com­mu­nity foun­da­tion that funds non­prof­its with the goal of im­prov­ing the city. It was the first pri­vate foun­da­tion that sup­ported the NYC LGBT His­toric Sites Project.

Re­cently, McCarthy and some Trust donors (not di­rectly linked to this project) did a walk­ing tour around Green­wich Vil­lage with Lust­bader and Shock­ley. Though they barely scratched the sur­face of LGBT his­tory in New York, Kerry said it was nice to have a chance to see at least part of the project’s map “come alive.”

“We think it’s ter­rific to shine a light on LGBT his­tory be­cause it has been in the shad­ows,” McCarthy said, “and the more peo­ple un­der­stand the sig­nif­i­cant cul­tural role the LGBT com­mu­nity has played, the bet­ter off we’ll be as New York­ers, and Amer­i­cans.”

PHOTO IL­LUS­TRA­TION ISTOCK

GETTY IM­AGES

Gay Lib­er­a­tion stat­ues in Green­wich Vil­lage.

AMY WOLF FOR THE NEW YORK COM­MU­NITY TRUST

Ken Lust­bader

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