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New LGBTQ Tour Launched in NYC's Greenwich Village

Saturday Oct 7, 2017
Stonewall National Monument in New York's Greenwich Village.
Stonewall National Monument in New York's Greenwich Village.   (Source:Ted Eytan/flickr)

Park and preservation advocates, along with elected officials including Congressman Jerrold Nadler and New York State Senator Brad Hoylman, have launched the first walking tour dedicated to telling the history of the 1969 Stonewall uprising and the fight for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights.

The tour connects the public with nearly 20 historic sites significant to the LGBTQ community, anchored by and surrounding the Stonewall National Monument in New York's Greenwich Village. Collectively these sites contribute to the story of the LGBTQ civil rights' struggle and the events and social changes that eventually led to the Stonewall uprising and its impact.

National Parks Conservation Association, a leading group behind the campaign to help create the national park site, and experts from the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project will debut the new self-guided walking tour with a presentation at Stonewall National Monument, including the release of the new user-friendly map that is available to the public starting today.

"The LGBT historic sites along this walking tour are unknown to many, but hopefully not for long," said Cortney Worrall, Northeast senior regional director for National Parks Conservation Association. "Stonewall isn't just a building. It's the birthplace of an important movement. And the supporting role the surrounding neighborhood played in this movement can only fully be understood by walking the streets and reliving how the uprising unfolded. This is how we remember our painful past, and what keeps our country from repeating it. There are no better people to learn this from than the best storytellers America has to offer - our National Park Rangers."

Highlights along the tour include Julius' Bar, the site of the 1966 "Sip-In" by the Mattachine Society, an early LGBTQ rights group, challenging the State Liquor Authority's discriminatory policy of revoking the license of bars that served gay men and lesbians. Gay rights activist Craig Rodwell established the Oscar Wilde Memorial Bookshop, making it America's first gay and lesbian bookstore.

Less than one year after the Stonewall uprising, the basement bar Snake Pit was the site of a police raid that resulted in protests by the Gay Liberation Front and Gay Activists Alliance. The protests and positive media coverage demonstrated the influence of two of the more visible LGBT rights organizations.

"Our mission is to make the invisible history of New York City's LGBT community, which can be felt throughout the city but particularly here in Greenwich Village, a visible and better-understood facet of our city's historical fabric," said Jay Shockley, co-director of the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project, the nonprofit group responsible for the historical research to inform the new tour anchored by Stonewall National Monument.

The Stonewall uprising is considered the birthplace of the modern LGBTQ civil rights movement. In response to police raids against the LGBT community in the summer of 1969, demonstrations over a six-day period took place in the streets surrounding the Stonewall Inn and Christopher Park. The events at Stonewall forever changed history, and are considered some of the most important events of the LGBTQ civil rights movement. These demonstrations helped set the stage for the progress that has since been made on LGBTQ liberation and equality, and the larger push for human rights and civil rights in the United States. After a years-long campaign to honor this story, including strong leadership and support from federal, state and city officials, Stonewall National Monument became our country's first national park site dedicated to LGBTQ history in June of 2016.

"Thanks to the efforts of the National Parks Conservation Association and the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project, visitors to the Stonewall National Monument will be able to discover some of the rich history of the area that led to the uprising, and set off a global movement," said Congressman Jerrold Nadler. "The history of the LGBT community and its struggle for civil rights is an important part of American history, and I am proud to have helped lead the effort to have the site of the Stonewall Uprising designated as a national monument."

"Stonewall remains the town square for the LGBT community - a living, breathing national treasure," said State Senator Brad Hoylman. "As a gay elected official and a dad, I hope the new historic walking tour provides greater insight for visitors to the monument and reminds future generations of the inspiring historic events that advanced human rights here in Greenwich Village and around the world. In Albany, I'm proud to have played a role in making the Stonewall National Monument possible and I'm honored to take part in this inaugural tour today."

"After the designation of the Stonewall National Monument, I am so pleased to see the beginnings of programmatic planning for the park and surrounding LGBT historical community get underway," said Assemblymember Deborah J. Glick. "Developing a plan for the park with many educational opportunities will tell the stories of the LBGT pioneers who made Greenwich Village a bastion for civil rights change, and show young people the long history of the continuing march toward equality."

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