Lgbtq history is American history and we’re trying to make that visible can lust.
Bader is a co-founder and co-director of the New York City LGBT historic sites project and he’s a big believer in the power of landmarks.
The Statue of Liberty, is an important site for American history.
The Empire State Building the bridge in Selma, so those places are critical for people to understand the tangible.
Founders of our past.
Ken was in grad school studying historic preservation when he realized queer history was not getting the same Landmark treatment.
I said well, why not lgbtq history?
And I basically wrote my thesis on the topic as an experiment.
Years later, long after graduation can and his colleagues started the NYC LGBT historic sites project its Mission showcase.
Queer history from all over New York City.
It’s not just Greenwich Village, it’s Harlem Staten Island queens and Brooklyn it’s all over.
That’s a way that we sort of try to convey it on our map.
If you go to our website you can dive down, see what’s around you, their map.
An interactive map of New York City which lives on the Project’s website on it.
There are these small square icons for each different historical site, click one, and you’re transported back in time to that location.
So people who are coming out, who are alone and isolated, or people who are, you know, aware of gay history, and look past that, and have this deeper connection, and not feel, so, isolated or ashamed and know that.
And so I thought I’m in New York City.
Let’s get out in these streets and interact with some of these sites in real life.
So today in honor of pride month, we’re going out in the field.
Baby to see a few of these, lgbtq landmarks and explore the queer history that has shaped the city and Beyond from gimlet.
The world is against me, okay?
From gimlet media.
This is not passed it a show about the stories.
We can’t quite leave behind every episode.
We take a moment from that very same week in history and tell you the story of how it shaped our world.
I’m Simone plannin today, producer, Ramon Phillip and I are trekking across the borough’s In Search of New York City’s queer.
Landmarks, and we’re bringing you some of the Lesser known stories behind them.
Along the way.
It’s a torta Pride if you will.
So join us as we explore the rich.
Not always perfect, but powerful history of queerness in this city together.
Our first stop is Staten Island after the break.
Alright we’re here in Staten Island.
Oh well I was going to say it’s kind of beautiful but I just kind of I think I like this one brick building with the ivy climbing up.
Our first stop on this NYC.
Pride tour is in Staten Island and we’re searching for not.
You Pete Davidson I’m sorry, no disrespect to your kingdom.
We’re here to visit author audre, Lorde’s house.
We’re doing like a history tour and we were just During a few might know where audre Lorde’s house is.
Yeah, that’s okay.
I lived here for like 15 years.
We were curious.
If folks in her old neighborhood, knew that audre Lorde had lived there for some.
She’s a household name for others, not so much but her house is on the NYC LGBT historic sites map in 2019 the city made it an official landmark.
I’m sorry, I’m not.
Now, I’m trying to picture audre Lorde, like walking these blocks.
This feels different now than the New York City.
I’m used to Audrey Lord was a prominent writer and civil rights activist.
She was born in New York City in 1934.
She often wrote about her experience as a black.
Lesbian moving through the world about feeling like an outcast from a young age, poetry became an outlet for her.
Is it this?
I was kind of looking at it.
The house is a two-story.
Victorian looking Home, Cover top to bottom and this handsome light green wood siding.
There’s what looks like a spacious attic.
Where these Charming rectangle, Windows?
Look out onto the quiet Suburban neighborhood.
The reason why I was really struck by this home is they have these beautiful like chairs on their porch and I was like, I really feel like I could picture her audre Lorde sitting on this porch and just like watching the world go by and like writing down her thoughts, we know We were outside and we knew we were outside the pale.
Lived in the village we were outside is we would die.
This is Audrey and a clip from the documentary before.
Stonewall in it, she talks about the community of Outsiders.
She found in the neighborhood of Greenwich Village in the 1950s.
Lot of us were artists.
We hated typing.
All right, we didn’t want straight jobs.
Whatever we did, we were at the fridge.
Now, this of course, was the 50s.
It was like the game girl’s version of the beatniks the village is also.
Where Audrey found a queer Community though.
The seam had its flaws.
You have to remember that the lesbian gay girls cause that’s what we would call the gay girls.
Population was a reflection of what else was going on right around us and that was the era of Let’s Pretend.
This is the best of all possible, worlds.
This is exactly what we choose, right?
This is it so that nobody talk About racism, but racism was something that Audrey tackled in her writing here and her Staten Island home, she confronted the intersection of Blackness and queerness and one of her better known books zami, a new spelling of my name and I’ve got her book here and I want to read a passage from zami.
A new spelling of my name.
I remember how being young and black and gay and lonely felt we had to do it alone.
We you and black, and fine and gay, sweat it out.
Our first heart breaks with no school or office charms, to share that confidence over lunch hour.
I imagined Audrey sitting in the Attic of this house.
Looking out through one of those windows, as she wrote about her past reminiscing, about riding the train, into the village, heading to some bar, she loved standing outside.
The Jukebox humming inside waiting to be let in the bouncer was always asking me for my ID to prove.
I was 21, even though I was older than the other women with me, of course you can never tell with colored people and we would all rather die than have to discuss the fact that it was because I was black since of course, gay.
People weren’t racists after all, didn’t they know what it was like to be oppressed.
There’s no plaque in front of audre.
Lorde’s old house, no marker.
Nothing physical to indicate.
She was ever here ironic for someone who documented, so much of Life, who catalogued moments of love and grief, and self-discovery across the city, her home is a landmark in name, but who was it for if it only reveals itself to those who know it’s already there?
That’s a question.
I carried with me as we moved on to our next stop.
If Audrey story gave us insight into queer life in the 1950s, we were about to get a dose of the 1960s.
We just got out of the subway.
Yeah, looking for looking for stone wall which is not going to be that hard because I’m staring at a sign right now.
That’s a stone wall National Monument.
The next stop on.
Our pride tour was the Stonewall Inn a gay bar in Greenwich Village, This is such a 180 from the audre Lorde house.
Right in front of the Stonewall Inn.
I’m like, now I’m seeing it for the first time is itself.
Covered in Rainbow, flags and bright lights.
There’s a big sign that says the stone wall and of all the queer landmarks, in New York City, maybe even in the country.
This is probably one you’ve heard of it’s here.
Where in 1969, a riot broke.
In patrons of the bar and the police.
It’s commonly thought of as the spark, that launched, the gay and lesbian Rights Movement.
There’s like a whole like exhibit almost.
So they’ve put up these, like, Giant images up on this fence from the riots.
I mean, isn’t it across the street from Stonewall in?
There are large, black and white images.
Capturing, what the streets of the village looked, like, during the riot.
Looks like there’s a police officer whose Of like shoving this group of like, young people who seem to be yelling back at the police.
Doesn’t that look like Miss major Griffin racing is probably that’s her.
We were fighting for our life and we were kicking the cops ass.
This is activist Miss major Griffin grey sea in an oral history project by outwards.
She advocates for the rights of black Trans women like herself and she was In the thick of it, the night of the Stonewall riots fighting against the cops, and I made sure they’d knock me out, that it wouldn’t break every bone in my body.
Miss major grew up in Chicago, in the 1940s when she started affirming her gender.
Her family rejected her.
So she moved to New York City to find her own family in places.
Like the Stonewall Inn, it was a transgendered gay-friendly mail, hooking escort bar.
Are, you know, and while New York was safer, it still wasn’t safe for a black Trans Woman.
By this time, the NYPD were arresting people for things like cross-dressing or the even more vague masquerading.
And since the Stonewall Inn cater to Gay and trans patrons, it also became a regular stop for Manhattan, cops and their routine is the same all over, you hit the door jam with that nightstick.
And it echoes through the bar and the bartender says know when that happens turn the lights on.
Let’s say that’s last call.
They either ask for ID or check you out if you would leave or as you stepped out of the club, you step into a Paddy Wagon.
The night, the riot broke out in 1969.
The police pulled up to the Stonewall Inn and started aggressively confronting patrons the situation escalated into violence.
It said some of the girls threw stuff at the cops and slashed the police car tires.
The uprising would go on for days and Miss major Griffin.
Gracie says, the unsung heroes were the black queer Community who had sparked it.
Yeah, I wouldn’t have this guy Dan Spot.
It Rocky million didn’t get together back in 69 and kick.
These motherfucking cops ass for this shit to start.
The riots at Stonewall happened in June of 69.
That’s part of why we celebrate Pride this month and today Stonewall has become a significant symbol of resistance and Justice of the lgbtq community.
As we left the village and headed to the train and the number of rainbow Flags dwindled.
I was thinking like, this is what I had expected a landmark to look like big visible, a beacon that shouted.
Hey, something important happened here, if the point of a landmark was to show how connected we were to the past, how present it still was the Stonewall Inn and all its Pomp and celebration.
Is doing just that.
We are on back on the train on our way to Harlem.
Now we had one last site to visit all the way uptown the home of New York’s most famous, most breathtaking drag balls, you ever think you get to visit that original location.
My dream would be so like God, to of all their stand, clear of the closing doors, please.
After the break.
Welcome back before the break producer, remotely Phillip.
And I went out in search of places on the NYC LGBT, historic sites map.
And we were starting to see just how present this history still, is how these physical locations act as portals into stories of the past stories of black and brown.
New Yorkers, living their lives shaping the city and perhaps unknowingly shaping the future.
Our journey has one last stop Uptown Staten Island to Greenwich Village to Harlem.
Here we are.
Ramona asked me what I think of when I think about Harlem black people like you know vibrant black history and life and culture.
We were off to find a famous building on Ken’s LGBT historic sites map.
That’s where a lot of the seminal documentary Paris is burning was shot the 1990 movie Chronicles, the Harlem drag scene, it introduced vo gang and drag Balls to the masses and it was mostly shot behind the doors of what is now this church Faith Mission Christian Fellowship Church.
It’s got like red awning.
That looks like it’s seen, better days, kind of warned, you know, a nondescript, double yellow door Paris is burning takes you through those double doors into the world of the Harlem drag ball part.
Dance Party part competitive modeling these informal fashion competitions were gathering places for queer artists to show off their work.
The film opens with these doors opening up.
And in walks, this queen Decked Out, head to toe and gold.
She’s flanked by two shimmering puff sleeves and a gown fit for an 80s.
Glamour Barbie, her face is framed by feathers on the collar around her neck and a top her floppy brim headpiece.
Tying it all together, are her Black sunglasses, which rest so delicately on her high cheekbones, dusted with a deep pink blush.
Learn it and learn it.
She makes her way to the main Ballroom floor, where an enthusiastic crowd of mostly black and brown faces with the biggest Smiles, size her up.
Cheer her on and sing her.
Praises Sean, Sean, Sean.
She struts down the catwalk confidently, working the crowd and they go absolutely wild Paris is burning, put the lens directly on these drag teams called houses.
There was the house of ninja, the house of Extravaganza and the house of labeija.
I’m pepper labeija the legendary mother of the house of labeija.
This is a new meaning of family.
A group of human, being in a mutual bond.
Each house had a mother like pepper, who acted as leader part fashion and modeling, coach part guardian and protector, lot of these kids that I meet down.
They come from such sad, backgrounds, you know, broken homes or no home at all and then the few to do have family when the family finds out they’re gay, they extend completely.
And from this mutual bond this need for community.
Also came and understanding that how you presented it mattered.
It had a material impact on how you were perceived how you were treated, what you had access to on your whole life.
And for that reason, it was worth subverting worth fucking with.
But if you walk down this block, you won’t find much Beyond A Worn.
Red awning with some faded text that reads, Faith Mission Christian Fellowship Church Unless you already knew it story, you wouldn’t know what this church used to contain the legendary drag performers that walked through its doors and the Legacy that started long before the makers of Paris is burning, turned on their cameras.
Remotely asked me, if I knew that the history of Ballroom went as far back as the Harlem Renaissance.
No, I Really know much about drug culture, pre, 70s 80s.
So the drag scene in Harlem does go way back before this building was a church.
It was an Elk’s Lodge Social Club.
It was built back in the 1920s at the beginning of the Harlem Renaissance a time when black artists like Billie Holiday and Langston Hughes were thriving, but it was also a time for drag shows.
Drag shows or masquerade balls were all the rage Uptown limos would pull up to venues like the Elks Lodge Beautiful Queens in their heels and gowns.
Walk through the doors in their big wigs and powder faces bands.
Played in the background.
The night was filled with costume competitions, where a panel of Judges handed out awards for The best-dressed Hundreds, sometimes thousands showed up in the audience to watch.
Artists, writers and even celebrities traveled from all around town to attend the Harlem balls, or as local newspapers, team them dances of the fairies.
You know, I feel like I can totally picture that.
Like, at the end of the night, I imagined those door swinging open, as people made their way back home by foot by train, maybe, even by ferry, that’s ferr why.
And they’d still have the evenings festivities playing in the back of their minds, the theater, the performance, the celebration of things, and people that don’t conform the beauty of them.
After our tour, I had a lot of admiration for the work that Ken lust Bader is doing at the New York City, LGBT historic sites project.
I felt like I had unlocked a new way to look at the city around me, a new awareness of how close these histories are You can place it and ground it more effectively by seeing a building or site or knowing something connected to that history.
Those places you have a visceral connection to that past, a visceral Connection to the Past.
I don’t know if Ken meant that literally but I felt that walking home from the day.
I noticed I move differently between the buildings and down the sidewalks like I could feel the past and the present.
Collapsed on top of one another.
It’s almost like I could hear the Echoes of those that had passed through before.
We knew we were outside, we knew we were outside the pale.
Lived in the village, lot of us were artists.
This is a new meaning of family.
A group of human beings in a mutual bond and talk about happy.
The yard was Heaven.
It is a Spotify original produced by gimlet and zsp media.
This episode was produced by remotely Phillip.
Next week, we’re going full frontal into the world of Playgirl.
Any of like the hard and fast rules that, like, you really would not be able to get away with in virtually any office culture didn’t exist at Playgirl.
Like, this was a wild wild ride.
The rest of our team is producer.
Sarah Craig, our associate producer is Julie, Carly Lord, Newcomb is our production assistant.
The supervising producer is Erica.
Sen editing by Zach Stewart Ponte and Andrea be Scott fact-checking by Jane, Ackerman sound design and mixing by Hans Dale.
She original music by Sachs kicks, Ave Willie Green, Jay bless and Bobby.
Our theme song is Toko, Liana by cocoa with music supervision by Liz Fulton, technical Direction by Zach Schmidt show art by Elysee Harvin and Talia Rahman.
The executive producer, a DSP media is Zach Stewart Ponte.
The executive producer from gimlet is Matt schulze.
To learn about more LGBT sites and tour around.
New York’s long queer history, check out NYC LGBT, sites dot-org.
You can also hear the full Miss major interview and other trans oral histories at the outwards archive.org, special thanks to Shaun tolly, Jason Bauman, Eric Washington.
And to Lydia Pole, Green Abbie ruzicka Dan Behar Jen hon, Emily wiedemann list Styles and Joshua Bianchi followed not past it.
Now, to listen, for free exclusively on Spotify, click the little bell next to the Follow button to get notifications for new episodes and while you’re there Monster, ate the show 5 Stars, come on, don’t be shy.
You can follow me on Twitter at Simone palana in.
Thanks for hanging.
We’ll see you next week, sir, a fan.
That’s a wrap.