Pride Month isn’t just about celebrating – it’s also about remembering LGBTQ history.
If you’re in the Northeast, you don’t have to go far to bump into some of the most historic LGBTQ sites in the world. And there’s no better way to spend Pride Month than walking in the footsteps of LGBTQ pioneers at these local, historic sites.
The Stonewall Inn
No list of LGBTQ landmarks is complete without the Stonewall Inn. The gay bar and tavern located in New York City’s Greenwich Village was the site of the 1969 Stonewall riots. When police raided Stonewall on June 28, 1969, a group of patrons and passersby retaliated and sparked the modern movement for LGBTQ liberation. On the anniversary of the riots, the first Pride parades took place in New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago. Pride Month is in June because it marks this pivotal moment in LGBTQ history. Today, Stonewall is a National Historic Landmark and even has its own National Monument across the street in Christopher Park.
Julius’ Bar is one of the oldest continually-operating bars in New York City, and it’s also the oldest gay bar in New York City. This bar in Greenwich Village wasn’t always gay-friendly, though. In 1966, three members of the gay rights organization the Mattachine Society held a “sip-in” at Julius’ to protest laws that prohibited openly (or suspected) gay and lesbian people from being served at bars. The sip-in attracted attention from the New York Times and the Village Voice, leading the New York State Liquor Authority to roll back some of its policies against gay and lesbian patrons. It was an important stepping stone that would eventually lead to the events at Stonewall. Julius’ Bar is now on the National Register of Historic Places. Its interior is remarkably preserved and extremely similar to how it would have looked in 1966.
Provincetown Art Association and Museum
Originally, the beachside LGBTQ community of Provincetown was an artists’ colony. The Provincetown Art Association and Museum, established in 1914, documents the history of art and culture in P-town as it gradually grew into one of the top LGBTQ destinations in the country. The Provincetown Art Association and Museum offers a mix of contemporary and historical art, mostly by artists who have a connection to the area. At the museum, you can attend classes and lectures on everything from watercolors to LGBTQ symbolism in historic art. You can also see pieces by artists like Andy Warhol, John Singer Sargent, Blanche Lazzell and William Littlefield.
Carrington House was built at the turn of the 20th century, and it was one of the first structures in Fire Island’s Cherry Grove. Theater director Frank Carrington purchased the house in 1927, expanded it and used it to house visiting LGBTQ artists, actors and writers. Truman Capote famously developed the novel “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” while he was staying there. Though it has since fallen into disrepair, some in the community hope to transform it into a museum celebrating the history of Fire Island. Carrington House and the surrounding area is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Cherry Grove Community House and Theater
Also on Fire Island, you’ll find the Cherry Grove Community House and Theater, which was built in 1948. It’s the oldest continually operating LGBTQ theater in the country, and served as the cultural and civic center of Cherry Grove. The Cherry Grove Community House and Theater, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, continues to support the community today – in 2021 it was used to administer COVID-19 vaccines to residents.
Arlington Street Church
Boston’s Arlington Street Church has a long history of supporting the LGBTQ community. Since the 1970s it’s served as a popular meeting spot for various LGBTQ groups, like the Boston Gay Men’s Chorus, BAGLY, the Daughters of Bilitis and the Homophile Union. The Unitarian Universalist church welcomed the gay Catholic group Dignity-Boston after they were banned from meeting on Roman Catholic church property. In 1981, the church held its first prom for LGBTQ youth. In 1983, members hosted their first AIDS benefit concert. In 2004, Arlington Street Church held America’s first state-sanctioned wedding for a same-sex couple. Then, just three days later, 55 LGBTQ couples were legally married there on the same day. In addition to its rich history, the Arlington Street Church is beautiful, with 16 stained-glass windows installed by Tiffany Studios, 16 hand-rung bells in its bell tower, Corinthian columns and a 62-foot-high arched ceiling.
Did we forget any other landmarks important to LGBTQ history? Have you been to any of these places before? Let us know in the comments below!
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12 Thoughts on “Historic LGBTQ Sites in the Northeast”
I met my roommate, partner on March 4th ,1962 at the Punch bowl, when I was in the Navy. I was in the 1st Naval District Band stationed at the Charlestown Naval Shipyard and then the South Boston Naval District. We were together 57 years, married 15 years, and my husband passed away in 2019 at the age of 88. I am happy to say we lived the American Dream and due to Massachusetts intelligence and fairness, I hope America does the same.
There was an “historic” gay bar in Westport CT, where I grew up. In 2010, it closed after 71 years of continuous existence, meaning that it had been a gay bar since 1939. I don’t know what’s on the site now. There were several stories about the closing. Here’s a link to one story.
That was nice that you had something like that.
Wow, I’ve been going to Fire Island since 1982, have walked past the Carrington House many, many times, peeked inside even, and NEVER knew its storied history, most especially the Capote/Tiffanys aspect. I just thought it was a cool old building that was left in place, possibly protected. The National Register of Historic Places? Where’s the plaque, or … something? Anyway, thanks for teaching this relatively old guy something new – nice piece!
In 1927 a play opened in a Connecticut theater. A play written by Mae West. Its cast was made up entirely of GAY men. It only lasted 3 nights before it was shut down. The theater was in Stamford and I believe that it opened in 1927 as well.
It’s great to see so many outspoken and supportive LGBTQ+ businesses out there today, and AAA you sure are one of them. As a member of The LGBTQ+ Community myself, I am proud to say I am a member of AAA and have been for years.
Ditto. Your support does not go unnoticed. Thank you
The Massachusetts Supreme Court and Justice Margaret Marshall! A location and person deserving enormous recognition!!!
Yes, we all owe a debt of gratitude to Justice Margaret Marshall. My late spouse/parter, Jo Lower, and I had one of the early Ceremony of Union services at the Unitarian Society of Northampton, Mass in 1996, attended by 130 family members and friends. Eight years later, due to the courage of the Massachusetts Supreme Court, we went to our South Hadley MA Clerk’s office the day after it became legal to apply for our marriage license, and we became legally married within days. That marriage license granted me the legal right to accompany Jo during Emergency Room visits and while she was in the ICU in the following years. For this I will always be grateful.
Brought back some memories.?thanx for that …missed one place though ..the old Meeting House associated with Unitarian Church on Charles Street… many good happy times there..thanx for the memories AAA !!!
Oh, I miss David Brudnoy’s talk show so much. His wit and breadth of knowledge – and kindness to his guests – was unparalleled. For those who may not know Mr. Brudnoy, he was a longtime radio show host on WBZ in Boston and a lecturer at Boston University and other local universities. He came out as gay and revealed he had AIDS in 1994, and died in 2004. He is certainly missed.
Thanks for reading!