American LGBT Landmarks to Receive Historical Status

5.29.2014

By Aaron Hicklin

From The Stonewall to The Castro, the U.S. State Department launches study to identify sites associated with LGBT equality.

New York's The Stonewall Inn, site of the 1969 police raid and subsequent riots that became a touchstone of the battle for gay equality, is currently the only place in the US associated with the LGBT civil rights struggle to have national landmark status. Now that is set to change after the State Department today announced a new study to identify places and events associated with LGBT history as part of the National Parks Service ongoing Heritage Initiatives to explore "ways in which the legacy of underrepresented groups can be recognized, preserved, and interpreted for future generations."

How the Parks Service will identify potential monuments has yet to be explained, but it should help preserve sites across the country, from San Francisco's Castro district to New York's West Village. New York City councilman, Corey Johnson, who is involved in the effort, has suggested that less celebrated buildings such as the original home of the Gay Men's Health Crisis, a brownstone on West 22nd Street, New York, be considered for landmark status. Although some sites associated with LGBT figures, such as San Francisco's City Lights bookstore (pictured), have previously received such status, it has been coincidental rather than a specific acknowledement of LGBT history. 

The study will be launched at The Stonewall Inn, tomorrow, Friday, by U.S. Secretary of the Interior, Sally Jewell, the philanthropist and LGBT activist Tim Gill, whose Gill Foundation has pledged $250,000 towards the initiative, and Johnson. A panel of 18 scholars will be convened in June to discuss which locations have been central in the LGBT narrartive of America.

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