Queer history for future generations: New York City’s American LGBTQ+ History Museum

Queer history for future generations: New York City’s American LGBTQ+ History Museum
The American LGBTQ+ Museum PHOTO CREDIT: Leandro Justen

Donate to the American LGBTQ+ Museum here

An exciting future for the groundbreaking American LGBTQ+ History Museum in New York City

“It wasn’t so long ago that LGBTQ history wasn’t considered part of American history” –  Eric Marcus.

 

Whether it’s The Met or The Museum of Modern Art, the New York Public Library or the 9/11 Memorial, NYC is home to some of the most globally renowned and culturally significant museums and historical spaces in the world.

 

Yet, despite the city’s abundance of offerings, there’s a distinct absence of spaces dedicated to detailed exploration into LGBTQ+ history, often missing from the narrative of mainstream storytelling.

A national LGBTQ+ Museum in the US has been long-overdue. Until now…

 

 

The American LGBTQ+ Museum is a new institution – the first of its kind in New York – dedicated to preserving, investigating, and celebrating LGBTQ+ history and culture. 

 

An extension of the queer liberation movement, its aim is to engage in rigorous research, celebrate the diversity and richness of LGBTQ+ history and culture, and offer educational and community programs to the public.

 

As well as preserving oral histories of our many living community elders, the Museum aims to uplift the voices of those who have been historically marginalized within our community, and embrace the new and emergent identities of our youngest and newest members.

“LGBTQ history is especially urgent because our communities have emerged from denial, repression, and invisibility into acceptance, pride and full societal participation”, says Urvashi Vaid, Attorney, Writer, Activist and Secretary at the Museum . “This Museum helps forge the future by documenting our past.”

 

Let’s talk NYC.

Queer Americans in New York City constitute the largest self-identifying lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender communities by a significant margin in the United States. NY also boasts one of the largest LGBTQ+ populations in the world and is host to the largest Pride parade in America, one of the biggest in current existence. 

 

NYC is also rich in Queer history. In the 1960s, America’s sexual revolution marked a shift in public awareness and acceptance for sexual and romantic relationships outside of the then traditional heterosexual structure.

A big part of this movement began in New York City, with the Stonewall Riots. 

Stonewall Riots, NYC, 1969.

The Stonewall Riots, sometimes called the Stonewall Uprising, in 1969 was a series of spontaneous demonstrations by members of the gay community (then more of an umbrella term for all LGBTQ+ identities) and their allies fighting back against continued police brutality. 

Lesbians and trans women of color were some of the key people involved in the act of resistance, including names you may have heard like Stormé DeLarverie, Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson. 

 

The Uprising is widely considered the watershed event that transformed the gay liberation movement and the twentieth-century fight for LGBT+ rights in the US.

The one-year anniversary, in 1970, was dubbed Christopher Street Liberation Day, with the ensuing parade in NYC becoming the first Pride festival in the world.

And that is how Pride all over the world was born – in NYC.

 

So, with all those landmark events, it makes perfect sense that New York be the home of a space dedicated to preserving, researching, and sharing American LGBTQ+ history and culture.

The American LGBT Museum is doing exactly that. 

 

The Museum opened initially in partnership with New York Historical Society, the state’s oldest museum, exhibiting at 77th and Central Park West.

Its permanent own home is scheduled to open in 2026, with construction penned to commence next year. 

But funding will be an essential part of the journey.

“Not only will the museum give young people a sense of belonging, but its programs and exhibits will serve as a “school” for young LGBTQ people who will continue efforts for equal rights for the community”, said the museums Board of Trustees Chair Richard Burns. 

 

Actress and writer Jill Kargman, along with her husband Harry, both council members for the museum, held an intimate fundraising event at their NYC home in early May.

It was a cocktail party where the museum’s board and Executive Director met with members of the community to talk about the mission and critical impact donations will have on building out the institution. 

The bash was attended by a host of notable LGBTQ+ figures, activists and campaigners.

Attendees at the American LGBTQ+ Museum, NYC, May fundraiser. Hosted by Jill & Harry Kargman. Photographer: Leandro Justen

Ben Garcia, Executive Director of the American LGBTQ Museum, spoke with GLUE about building a museum from the ground up and the importance of inclusivity on the project from the offset: 

“The American LGBTQ+ museum will tell the stories of queer peoples in this country from its Indigenous beginnings to the present” Garcia said. “Thousands of stories… that haven’t been told before in museums. Stories brought to life through the work of LGBTQ+ creatives and scholars.”

 

“It will be a space of celebration, connection and deep meaning. A liminal space where the connection to our ancestors will be strong and queer magic, real. The progression of our liberation has been powerful and the museum will document that progress. However, as you well know, that progress is not universal, nor is it guaranteed.”

A former board member of Equality Ohio, who worked to pass the Ohio Fairness Act, Ben said of his personal experience, “All of us, and none more so than our transgender and non-binary siblings continue to weather attacks from those who fear us”.

“And so this museum will also be a space for activists, partnering with others who fight for the liberation of LGBTQ+ folx, and supporting the work of future generations who will fight for new possibilities for LGBTQ+ folx and for all people.”

 

“The Museum’s vision is of a world in which all people work toward and experience the joy of liberation. I imagine what this Museum might mean to future generations of queer youth, and to all of us who have spent time seeking out queer space and fighting for queer lives.”

 

You can help make sure the history of LGBTQ+ people is preserved for future generations by donating to the American LGBTQ+ Museum here.

You can also keep up to date on Instagram.
And visit the American LGBTQ+ Museum official website for more information. 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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