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A Walk Through NYC’s Iconic Sites in the Fight for LGBTQ+ Rights

In recognition of Pride month, the Columbia School of Professional Studies Office of Student Life organized an LGBTQ+ history walking tour through New York’s Greenwich Village. The two-hour expedition, led by Christopher Street Tours, covered historic sites where riots sparked the beginning of the U.S. gay rights movement. The tour started at McCarthy Square and concluded at the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Community Center, which narrated an account of the Stonewall Uprising. 

 

Some tour highlights and facts from the tour are below.

 

Stonewall

  • The Stonewall Inn is where the gay rights movement began, according to many members of the LGBTQ+ community and historians alike. On June 28, 1969, New York City police raided the Greenwich Village bar, which was a popular social space for LGBTQ+ people. The raid prompted six days of protests and confrontations with law enforcement. The raid and resultant rage are often referred to as the catalyst for the gay rights movement. The Stonewall Inn is designated as a national monument today.

 

Gay Bars in the 1960s

  • The New York Mafia ran several gay bars around the city in the 1960s. Many gay clubs and bars in New York City in the ’60s were refused liquor licenses, and these businesses were frequently raided by the police. As a result, the Genovese organized crime family saw an opportunity to operate within the disadvantaged LGBTQ+ community. The Mob paid off police and profited from the bars by exploiting wealthy gay patrons and collecting cover charges. 

 

Gay Liberation Movement and AIDS Activism

  • The Stonewall Uprising prompted the emergence of several gay liberation organizations. The efforts of these groups were influenced by other crusades such as women’s rights and the Black Power movement. These activists urged the community to engage in fierce radical action through protests, demonstrations, and other resistance efforts. Organizations that came out of the movement include the Human Rights Campaign, the Marsha P. Johnson Institute, and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center.
  • The LGBTQ+ Community Center is where ACT-UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power) and other AIDS advocacy and support groups were first organized during the height of the AIDS epidemic. The center’s collections of stories include scrapbooks, photographs, and video recordings from as far back as 1878. Today the center offers programs to the local community that focus on health, financial management, and other areas.

 

The Columbia SPS Office of Student Life also accompanied students to the NYC Pride March on June 26.

 

To learn more about the Columbia University Summer Session, or explore co-curricular activities and other events, students please visit SPS Engage for events hosted by Student Life, and the Columbia Summer Session website to sign up for co-curricular activities.

 

Your New York City Experience: A Global Opportunity

The Columbia University Summer Session takes a unique approach to learning on and off-campus. It offers curated educational, social, and cultural experiences to connect students with each other and Columbia faculty as well as opportunities to explore New York landmarks and institutions.