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The Ultimate Lesbian Day Long Date in New York: Explore Lesbian History

Robyn Exton


Apr 19, 2024

The Ultimate Lesbian Day Long Date in New York: Explore Lesbian History

Welcome to HER’s viral Lesbian Day Long Date. As we all know, lesbian dates can last well over 12 hours, and so to celebrate Lesbian Visibility Day this year, we are launching the ultimate lesbian date – a day-long interactive tour through New York’s lesbian history. There will be history, queer rights, riots and a lot of drinks along the way 😉 We’ve designed this date to help you get to know your date a bit better as well – who knows – you may be thanking us for helping you get to know ‘The One’.

Most of the guide is planned with you walking from one destination to the next but you’ll need a couple of metro stops in between so we’ll give you recommendations of transport if it’s a long distance or a nice route to take . The suggestions of timings are to keep you a bit on track but we trust you can take care of yourselves 😉

If you go on the date and share about it on social media, be sure to tag @hersocialapp and use #HERdaylongdate to enter to win $250 credit for a hotel stay for Night 2. 😉 One winner will be selected for London and one for New York. 

Winners will be chosen by May 30th, 2024.

1. Washington Square Park

A vibrant scene in Washington Square Park, with people of all ages and backgrounds joyously celebrating Pride.

Source: Patch

We’re starting right in Greenwich village and the heart of gathering, protesting and self-expression;, Washington Sq Park. This iconic NYC park is a landmark for lesbian activism, and the original location for one of New York’s most iconic lesbian communities, the Dyke March. In 1993, just after conquering D.C. with their first march, a group of women calling themselves the Lesbian Avengers included Ana Simo, Maxine Wolfe, Sarah Schulman, Anne-christine d’Adesky, Marie Honan, and Anne Maguire – organized the very first New York City Dyke March. Yes, right here in Washington Square Park!

This was a feminist statement that drew lesbians from across the country. The energy was electric, and the message was clear: lesbians exist, we’re proud, and we’re demanding our rights. ✊

The Dyke March’s success was undeniable. It snowballed into an international movement, with marches happening on the eve of Pride celebrations all over the world. 

This iconic Greenwich Village landmark is exactly what it should be: a chill public space to feel invigorated and charmed by an old-school free-spirit, counter-culture vibe that’s indelibly tied to its historic neighborhood and NYU.


Date Activity: As a pocket of counter-culture celebration in the heart of the city, what counter-cultures have you felt a part of? Share about the communities you have joined, the niche groups you became a part of. Are any of these foundational to your identity? 

2. Gay Activists Alliance Firehouse

Exterior of the Gay Activists Alliance Firehouse, the organization's headquarters from 1971 to 1974. Flags display text: 'Gay Activists Alliance' and 'Come to firehouse.

Source: NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project

Fire up your pride and your date’s heart at the Gay Activists Alliance Firehouse. It is a place that oozes empowerment and lesbian resilience. This former firehouse in SoHo was lighting a fire under the LGBTQ+ rights movement in the early 70s. 

The Gay Activists Alliance (GAA), formed right after the Stonewall Riots, called this place home from 1971 to 1974. Back then, it wasn’t just a headquarters – it was a vital community center, a safe space for lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and trans folks to come together, strategize, and celebrate their identities.

Think consciousness-raising meetings, electrifying drag performances, and fierce rallies for social change – all happening right here! This firehouse witnessed the birth of the iconic “zap” –  a spontaneous, attention-grabbing protest tactic that put discrimination on blast.

Martha Shelley, a lesbian activist, holds a newspaper with the headline "Come out!"

Source: The Velvet Chronicle

Lesbian powerhouses like Martha Shelley and Maureen Korved were key players at the Firehouse. Martha, a firecracker of a woman (we love a fiery lesbian!), was a founding member of the Gay Liberation Front in New York. Her bold activism within the Daughters of Bilitis, a pioneering lesbian organization from the 1950s, helped pave the way for a more inclusive LGBTQ+ movement.

I am very proud of these designations (GAA Firehouse selected as one of landmarks associated with the history of the LGBT community), which recognize that despite the obstacles they faced, the LGBT community has thrived in New York City. 

Sarah Carroll, Landmarks Preservation Commission Chair

Date Activity: Have you ever been to a protest or volunteered for a political organization? Tell each other about it!

3. Mercer Cleaner aka The Oscar Wilde Memorial Bookshop

Interior of The Oscar Wilde Memorial Bookshop, the first instance in American history where literature was organized under the subject heading of gay culture. Pride flags adorn the shelves filled with books.

Source: Village Preservation

Whilst you’re looking at the unassuming dry cleaners, know that you are facing a small part of history as this building used to house the Oscar Wilde Memorial Bookshop. It was a revolutionary hub founded in 1967 by the fearless Craig Rodwell. Back then, LGBTQ+ folks craved a safe space to find books, magazines, and most importantly, community. This wasn’t just about paperbacks, it was about creating a place where lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and everyone on the rainbow spectrum could finally see themselves reflected on the shelves.

It was the first time in American history that literature had been organized under the subject heading of gay culture.

Jim Downs, historian

History buffs will geek out over the fact that it was the first LGBTQ+ bookstore on the entire East Coast and one of the first ones in the whole dang country to stay open for the long haul. 

Brenda Howard, a key figure in the LGBTQ+ rights movement known as the 'Mother of Pride,' standing on a street protesting, surrounded by fellow activists.

Source: Advocate

But this bookstore wasn’t just about browsing biographies of Oscar Wilde (although, we wouldn’t blame you for getting lost in his wit). This was a place where movements were born. Yes, you might be standing on the very spot where Brenda Howard and the early Pride Committee planned the first-ever Gay Pride Week! Talk about a history lesson that’ll leave you wanting to raise a rainbow flag high.

The Oscar Wilde Memorial Bookshop is a major party of gay history and Craig Rodwell was such a pioneer and advocate for the LGBTQ+ community!

Patrick Hinds

Date Activity: Do you read books – paperback or kindle? What books were foundational for you growing up and how do you like to spend your time reading  now? 

4. Henrietta Hudson bar

Outside of Henrietta Hudson, the nation's oldest lesbian bar, featuring a queer woman in a white t-shirt and light jeans standing in front. The bar's window displays text reading 'DYKE POWER TAKE ACTION' with light-colored flag paper stuck to the window.

Source: Henrietta Hudson

This is a bar steeped in more lesbian herstory than your favorite Flannery O’Connor novel. This isn’t your typical pickup joint (though, hey, who knows what Cupid’s arrow might have in store?), but it is a place that holds a special place in the heart of New York’s lesbian community.

Founded in 1991, Hen’s, as the regulars call it, is a living monument to resilience. Back in 1985, Lisa Cannistraci found herself on a rainy night at the original Cubby Hole, a legendary lesbian bar in the West Village. One thing led to another (maybe it was the shared love of flannel?), and Lisa landed a job that very night. 

Fast forward five years, and the Cubby Hole closed its doors. But Lisa, along with her partner-in-crime Minnie Rivera, decided to rewrite the story.

lesbians dancing at Henrietta Hudson

Source: Go Magazine

Here’s the truly legendary part: Henrietta Hudson was built by lesbians for the queer community. Lesbians donated their time, their tools, and even their boomboxes (because what’s a celebration without a killer soundtrack?) to create this safe space.  Since then, Hen’s has been a place to unwind, celebrate, and forge connections.

I went here with my girlfriend and we liked the place. I’m not much of a dancer (she is), but the vibes were good, the drink names amusing, and the atmosphere queer.

Luna Lucadou

Vibes are good and it made my second lesbian bar experience pleasant and enjoyable!! Really hope there will be more lesbian bars like this.

Victoria C

Date Activity: Hen’s is known for having the biggest dance floor for sapphics in Manhattan, so grab a drink if you need one and dance like no one’s watching with your date to the sounds of your favorite local queer DJs.Even if it is early afternoon and we’re pretty sure the dance floor is empty.

5. Two Boots West Village – aka Duchess / Grove / Pandora’s Box

Exterior of Pandora's Box, a historic lesbian bar in the West Village from the 1970s to the early 1990s, depicted in a black and white photograph.

Source: NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project

Grab your date and a slice of history at Two Boots West Village! This seemingly ordinary pizza joint was once Pandora’s Box, a legendary lesbian bar that pulsated with life in the West Village from the 70s to the early 90s.

In 1972, the women’s liberation movement was in full swing, and the Duchess opened its doors. A “friendly and relaxed atmosphere” with a feminist twist welcomed a diverse crowd. We’re talking folks passionate about the movement, ready to connect and celebrate their identities in a safe space.

Two women joyfully embrace and kiss, holding up a banner for the Lesbian Herstory Archives in front of the Duchess, a popular lesbian bar in Greenwich Village during Pride in 1982.

Source: Atlas Obscura

Fast forward a decade, and the Duchess transforms into Pandora’s Box. Same welcoming vibes, but now the soundtrack bumps with a distinctly Black and Latin flair. It was where Black and Latina lesbians could unwind, dance, and forge a vibrant community. This is a pivotal spot – a place where these incredible women could find community, express themselves freely, and maybe even dance the night away with someone special.

Back then, Cynthia Russo, the former owner of Pandora’s Box, noticed something major: there weren’t many safe spaces for Black and Latina lesbians to cut loose and be themselves. Shescape just wasn’t cutting it, and salsa beats were a rare find on most dance floors.

So, Cynthia, along with her partner Minnie, ripped open Pandora’s Box (metaphor alert!), creating a haven for women of color. Think themed nights with a little something for everyone. Thursdays were a mix of everything, Saturdays were pure Latin fire, and Sundays were chill movie nights or bingo blowouts. They packed the place with 400 strong women, all there to celebrate sisterhood and good vibes.

There was a lot of routine anti-gay hostility on the street. Even in Sheridan Square [Christopher Park] on a weekend night you’d get hassled for holding hands. But then you’d step past the bouncer at the Duchess, and you were home free …. it afforded me the space to just be, with my guard down, and that was salvational.

Alison Bechdel

But the journey wasn’t all glitter. The club faced complaints from neighbors who, Cynthia believed, couldn’t handle the sight of empowered Black and Latina lesbians having a blast.

Residents dislike the club because many of the patrons are lesbians and because most are Black or Hispanic.

Cynthia Russo

While Pandora’s Box itself is long gone and closed its doors around 1992 , its legacy lives on. It’s a powerful reminder of the vibrant lesbian scene that thrived in Greenwich Village, and the importance of creating safe spaces for all.

So, grab your cutie, raise a glass (or a slice) to the fierce women who built this community, and maybe whisper a “what if…” about what those nights at Pandora’s Box might have been like. Just don’t get too caught up in the past –  Two Boots has some pretty amazing pies waiting for you!

Date Activity: Lunch time! Grab a slice and talk all about food. Favorite dishes, what you like to cook, favorite restaurants in the city. The true language of sapphic love. 

6. Stonewall Inn

Exterior of Stonewall Inn adorned with colorful Pride flags, celebrating LGBTQ+ pride and history.

Source: Britannica

This place feels like it needs to intro Stonewall Inn, the birthplace of the modern LGBTQ+ rights movement and a historic haven for lesbians like you and me. This isn’t your typical tourist trap –  Stonewall is a monument to rebellion, resilience, and the fierce fight for equality. Back in 1969, the Stonewall Inn was a hidden gem for lesbians, a place to find community and express ourselves freely. 

A historic photograph depicting the Stonewall riots of 1969, a pivotal moment in LGBTQ activism, sparking significant advancements in the fight for equal rights.

Source: Business Insider

Whilst Stonewall had created a safe haven for queer folks, it was frequently terrorized by police brutality against LGBTQ+ folks, especially lesbians in masculine attire being harrassed by police figures. But on June 28th, 1969, something different happened. This time, patrons fought back against a raid, sparking the Stonewall Uprising – a six-day riot that became a pivotal moment in LGBTQ+ history. Lesbians were right there on the front lines. While history often focuses the narrative on gay men, figures like Marsha P. Johnson, a Black transgender woman, and Sylvia Rivera, a Latina activist, were instrumental in the uprising.

A historic photo depicting a police raid on a bar, dated June 28th, 1969. In the foreground, a queer woman is seen defending herself amidst the chaos.

Source: PBS 

Two women, both queer, share a kiss. In the background, a crowd marches, celebrating the first Pride march in NYC on June 28, 1970.

Source: NY1

A year later on June 28, 1970, NYC threw down the first Pride march ever. Today, Stonewall stands as a national monument, a reminder of the power of resistance and the ongoing fight for LGBTQ+ rights. It’s a powerful place to hold hands with your girlfriend and celebrate the brave women who paved the way for us.

 My initial thought was, ‘Absolutely, let’s go save history.

Stacy Lentz

But here’s where our story gets even cooler. Enter Stacy Lentz, a total lesbian bossbabe, who, along with a group of investors, swooped in to save the Stonewall from shutting down in 2006. Stacy knew this place wasn’t just a bar, it was a monument to the LGBTQ+ community’s resilience.

Since then, Stacy has become a co-owner of Stonewall Inn. She even co-founded the Stonewall Inn Gives Back Initiative, a non-profit that educates folks about LGBTQ+ history and works towards equality.

Took my partner for a night at my fave gay bars and ended up winning drag bingo!!!! Amazing bartenders, team and Queen. Plus great drinks (thanks C!)

Rebecca Upton

Fun fact: Right around the Stonewall Inn area was the epicenter of the Stonewall Riots and the birthplace of the modern LGBTQ+ rights movement. It’s where Brenda Howard, a fierce lesbian activist, rallied the community after Stonewall. Fueled by the fight for equality, she organized the very first Christopher Street Liberation Day March – the first Pride march ever. Not only that, Brenda is credited with the idea of turning Pride into a week-long celebration, a tradition that’s become a global phenomenon.

Date Activity: Try your hand at pool! Play as partners or play against each other for some hot competition. Another option? The Stonewall Riots started pride, share your favorite pride memories with your date and talk about your dream pride celebration.

7. Greenwich Village

A vibrant Pride Parade outside the historic Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village. People are dressed in purple NYC Pride shirts and energetically waving rainbow pride flags

Source: Village Preservation

This stop is more about taking a moment to acknowledge the gay-ass nature of this whole neighborhood and the decades of history that have emerged in these streets. It’s a place where lesbian pioneers like Barbara Gittings carved a path for generations to come.

Various editions of The Ladder Magazine, the first national lesbian publication.

Source: Max Rambod Rare Books

Back in 1958, Barbara, a total badass, founded the New York chapter of the Daughters of Bilitis (DOB), the first lesbian civil rights organization in the US. Can you imagine the courage it took? She even became the editor of their magazine, The Ladder, which was literally the first national lesbian publication. Talk about a history-making boss.

But Barbara didn’t stop there. Greenwich Village became a launchpad for the first public demonstrations for gay and lesbian equality. This neighborhood became a beacon of hope for LGBTQ+ folks, with many lesbian bars and clubs flourishing here.

Date Activity: Let’s talk local. What neighborhood did you grow up in and where do you live now? What do your local communities mean to you?

8. Julius’

Julius' in New York: the city’s oldest gay bar adorned with pride and US flags, known for its welcoming atmosphere and burgers

Source: Secret NYC

Built in 1967, Julius’ wasn’t afraid to be a beacon of light in a time when being gay was illegal. It was a safe space where women could gather, socialize, and maybe even meet their future dance partner. But Julius’ claim to fame goes way back to 1966. This tiny bar was the courageous battleground for a pivotal protest known as the “Sip-In.” 

Members of the Mattachine Society, an early LGBTQ+ rights organization, sashayed on in and demanded service, directly challenging the state law that banned bars from serving “suspected homosexuals.” Talk about a revolutionary cocktail! This act of defiance helped pave the way for LGBTQ+ rights not just in New York, but across the nation.

So, raise a glass (or two) to the brave women who fought for our right to gather and celebrate our love at Julius’ – a lesbian landmark that’s more than just a bar, it’s a monument to HERstory.

Delicious and affordable bar food! Legacies of queer resistance! Kind bar staff! This place has it all!

Amy Ackerman

Date Activity: Grab a drink, take a seat and challenge each other to a game of truth or dare to get to know each other better.

9. Jefferson Market Garden aka The Women’s House of Detention

Black and white image of The Women’s House of Detention from the past.

Source: Village Preservation

Since lesbians are poorer (no men’s incomes), de-facto marginalized, and more often deprived of family support, lesbians and queer women and trans men have also been overrepresented in prisons.

Sarah Schulman, author of Let the Record Show

The Jefferson Market Garden, a lush green escape in the heart of Greenwich Village, holds a secret history –  it was once the infamous Women’s House of Detention. From 1929 to 1974, this spot housed a whole lot of revolutionary women, some famous like Angela Davis and Andrea Dworkin, and countless others who defied societal expectations for being LGBTQ+ or simply not fitting the mold.

Black and white photo from 1955 showing women inside the Women's House of Detention. The women are engaged in practical instruction, working with power sewing machinery despite limited space and equipment.

Source: Correction History

In the 1950s and 1960s, I lived my femme lesbian life in the shadow of the Women’s House of D. In the bar that was home to me, parties were held to greet released lovers or to mourn new incarcerations. The Women’s House of Detention was the horizon of my early lesbian queer life; I have carried the voices of the separated lovers I heard in those hot summer streets all my years. In 1971, the building was erased from its Village corner, but Hugh Ryan refused that erasure. These pages are thick with women and transmasculine people stepping back into our communal history, our national history.

Joan Nestle, author and founder of the Lesbian Herstory Archives
Jefferson Market Garden: Former site of The Women's House of Detention, now a picturesque haven.

Source: Village Preservation

While the prison itself is gone (replaced by the beautiful gardens we see today), the stories of these women echo in the stone walls. Imagine –  thousands of women, trans men, and gender-nonconforming folks passing through these very grounds. It’s a powerful reminder of the fight for queer rights and the resilience of those who dared to be different.

Activists are working to create a memorial here, honoring the LGBTQ+ inmates who were incarcerated. So, not only can you hold hands and stroll through the vibrant gardens (perfect for stealing a kiss under a shady tree!), but you can also be part of this ongoing fight for visibility.

Date Activity: Find a bench under the flowers and chat about the causes that matter most to you, which political causes get you fired up and how they play a role in your life.

10. The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center 

Exterior of an LGBT Community Center, featuring a colorful facade with the center's name displayed.

Source: HuffPost

This stop on our Lesbian Visibility Day tour is gonna be a double date with history and activism. We’re talking about the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center, the world’s L-O-V-E-LIEST LGBTQ+ center, founded way back in 1983.

Group of the Lesbian Avengers at the first Dyke March in 1993, sparking the formation of over 50 chapters nationwide.

Source: npr

This community center played a pivotal role in the birth of the legendary lesbian activist groupThe Lesbian Avengers who we met earlier (New York activists: Ana Simo, Maxine Wolfe, Sarah Schulman, Anne-Christine d’Adesky, Marie Honan and Anne Maguire). In 1992 they met at the Center with a mission to crank up lesbian visibility and fight for our rights.

Participants in the first NYC Dyke March pull a huge bed on wheels with lesbians on top as a float, June 26, 1993. Photo by and courtesy of Saskia Scheffer.

Source: NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project

Their first meeting at this center drew over 50 women, and let me tell you, the energy was electric! The Lesbian Avengers weren’t afraid to take action. They hit the streets, organized marches, and even started the iconic Dyke March.

Fast forward to today, and The Center continues to be a powerhouse. It’s a heart, home and a hub offering everything from health and wellness programs to social events, ensuring every shade of the LGBTQ+ rainbow feels seen and supported. It’s a place where countless people have found their voice and their chosen family.

If you love an LGBTQ person or are one: Be sure to stop by…they have excellent resources available, rotating art shows throughout the building, a coffee bar, and are a very helpful friendly bunch.


Date Activity: Where felt like a first queer home for you? Was it a physical space or a community or a person? Share a bit about your queer identity with your date. Surely it can’t be a sapphic first date if your coming out story isn’t shared 😉 

11. Cubbyhole bar

Interior of Cubbyhole bar adorned with vibrant balloon-style lights. The walls are painted in dark green, contrasting with the brown brick colored floor.

Source: The infatuation

Cubbyhole, one of New York City’s oldest lesbian bars in the West Village, is a historic gem for our community. Cubbyhole first swung its doors open in 1987 under the, ahem, slightly less subtle name of DT’s Fat Cat. Back then, lesbian bars were crucial safe spaces, and Cubbyhole quickly became a hub for our community. In 1994, it donned its current, cozier moniker and solidified its place called Cubbyhole as a cornerstone of NYC’s lesbian scene.

Whether you’re on a date or rocking a solo adventure, Cubbyhole offers a dose of lesbian history with that local hole in the wall feel. Imagine clinking glasses in the same spot where countless LGBTQ+ folks have celebrated, commiserated, and built lifelong friendships. It’s a legacy, and you’re part of the story when you walk through the door.

Picture this: you and your date cozy up in a warm, intimate space, green walls humming with the chatter of a friendly crowd. A jukebox in the corner spins classic tunes, while above you, a gloriously eclectic ceiling explodes with trinkets and treasures – think “thrift store after a Mardi Gras parade” meets “fantastical forest.”  This is Cubbyhole, a quintessential New York lesbian bar that’s been a beacon of inclusivity for over decades.

Cubbyhole was founded in 1987 by Tanya Saunders, a firecracker of a woman who escaped Nazi Germany. As a child, she dreamt of a bar that was “friendly, casual” and embraced everyone. In 1987, she made that dream a reality, transforming a space called “12th Night” into the inclusive haven it is today. 

Driven by her own experiences of exclusion in other bars, Saunders created a haven that transcended labels. Over the years, Cubbyhole has seen it all – first kisses, celebratory toasts, and tearful commiseration.  As Lisa Menichino, Cubbyhole’s current owner, says, the bar has been a witness to countless life milestones, big and small.

The decorations, the space, the fun and welcoming vibes, the people, the pop hits they were playing, the price of the drinks. Everything was great and I would love to come back. A safe and fun place!

Nuria Yeste

Date Activity: Choose a song on the jukebox to be your song, be warned though, if you choose Taylor Swift, the bar team might skip it.

12. The Christopher Street Pier

Feeling a bit rebellious with a hint of romance in the air? Then ditch the boring dinner date and head down to Christopher Street Pier, right across the street from the legendary Stonewall Inn.  This spot isn’t just a pier with pretty views (although, let’s be honest, the Hudson River at sunset is pretty darn dreamy), it’s a place pulsating with LGBTQ+ history.

A vibrant scene at the Kiki Youth Pride Festival, with a group of queer women joyfully dancing at The Christopher Street Pier in New York City.

Source: Tenz Magazine

Back in the day, before the Stonewall Riots even happened, Christopher Street Pier was a haven for lesbians. It was a place where women could gather, chat, and just be themselves, something that wasn’t exactly a walk in the park back then. Think of it as the OG lesbian hangout spot, where whispers of rebellion and dreams of a brighter future swirled in the salty air.

This pier is a place that’s seen our community fight for its rights. The pier was a microcosm of a larger movement, a public space where LGBTQ+ folks could simply exist, a concept that sadly, wasn’t always supported by the world around them.

Vibrant scene at Christopher Street Pier: Queer individuals stroll and picnic under the daytime sun, while Pride flags adorn light poles.

Source: Hudson River Park

Fast forward to today, and Christopher Street Pier is part of Hudson River Park. Sure, it’s fancy now, with manicured lawns and tourists snapping pictures. But it’s important to remember the history etched in these very stones. It’s a reminder of how far we’ve come, and a necessary nudge to keep fighting for the spaces we deserve.

So grab your girl by the hand and stroll down memory lane (or should we say, pier?) Whisper sweet nothings in her ear while picturing brave lesbians plotting revolution under the same sky.

I got to have my Paris is Burning experience finally! It just felt so amazing to be in the same place with so many Ancestors.

Yamina Roland

Date Activity: Stand at the end of the pier and throw a coin (or a pebble) over the edge and make a wish. Tell each other if you want, but you know the risks. 

13. Women’s Liberation Center 

Exterior of the Women’s Liberation Center, a crucial meeting hub for various women’s groups, notably those supporting the lesbian community.

Source: NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project

Our next stop is the former stomping grounds of heroines  –  the Women’s Liberation Center which was located next to Chelsea International Hostel. This red-brick beauty was once a firehouse, designed back in 1866 by a man named Charles E. Hartshorn. From 1972 to 1987, it housed something radical: a hub for feminist and lesbian activism.

The place was buzzing with energy, where people like you and me were plotting the overthrow of the patriarchy. The Lesbian Feminist Liberation and the Lesbian Switchboard, two of the most important lesbian groups of the era, called this firehouse home. 

The WLC was a firecracker of a space in the early 1970s, and a breeding ground for two iconic lesbian organizations: Lesbian Feminist Liberation (LFL) and the Lesbian Switchboard.

Lesbian power takes root

The Lesbian Feminist Liberation emerged from a simmering frustration with the Gay Activists Alliance (GAA) for neglecting lesbian and feminist issues. In 1973, these audacious lesbians said “enough is enough” and formed the LFL, carving out a space for them to fight for their rights and visibility.  Imagine the electrifying energy of these pioneering women strategizing and mobilizing within these very walls!

The Lesbian Switchboard: a lifeline for our sisters

The WLC also housed the legendary Lesbian Switchboard, a vital lifeline for lesbian Londoners from 1972 to 1987. Run by dedicated volunteers, it wasn’t just about chit-chat. These women offered counseling, referrals, and info on everything from local events to navigating a world (Think of it as the OG HER app, but with a whole lot more rotary phone charm). In October 1987, when WLC was under renovation, the Switchboard moved to LGBT Community Center.

The Lesbian Feminist Liberation and Lesbian Switchboard provided crucial community services and fought for social change, paving the way for a world where we can be out and proud. Thanks to the tireless efforts of the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project, this firehouse is now a designated landmark in 2019, a testament to the power of lesbian activism.

Liberation is more than physical, it is a state of mind and acceptance of all the definitions of womanhood. 

Readers Present the Case For Women’s Liberation

14. The Theater for the New City

Exterior of The Theater for the New City, a landmark venue fostering fierce voices and pioneering LGBTQ+ productions since 1970. A beacon for lesbian playwrights, directors, and actors, championing inclusivity and diversity in the arts.

Source: flickr

The Theater for the New City has been a haven for fierce voices and groundbreaking LGBTQ+ productions since 1970. It has been a champion for lesbian playwrights, directors, and actors for decades. 

Portrait of Barbara Kahn, a lesbian playwright, surrounded by vibrant colors that reflect her creative spirit.

Source: Barbara Kahn

It’s practically a legend in the community. Back in 1990, a lesbian playwright named Barbara Kahn (bow down!) co-founded Sisters on Stage, a theater collective created specifically to give lesbian stories a platform. 

They didn’t mess around –  just four years later, The Theater for the New City started producing Kahn’s work in 1994, and she’s been a mainstay ever since, churning out new plays year after year. This woman’s a powerhouse! She’s racked up awards like nobody’s business, including the James R. Quirk Award for the Performing Arts and the Acker Award. Talk about a lesbian icon!

TNC is rich with artistic minds which comes as a community. Great shows and people to work with. Love to see them showcasing homegrown talents/artist. 

Sophia Dumasig

Date Activity: What’s your connection with performing arts? Or any arts? Do you paint? Have you ever performed? Share some of your secret loves. 

Travel tip: Time to hop on a metro! We’ve got some distance to cover to the next destination 

15. Ginger’s Bar – Park Slope

Exterior of Ginger's Bar - Park Slope in New York, adorned with vibrant pride flags and dark blue and yellow walls.

Source: NYC Tourism

The Ginger’s Bar in Park Slope is a Brooklyn institution that’s been serving up history and good times since 2000. Back in the early 2000s, Park Slope was a lesbian haven. Remember “lesbihoods”? Yes, those were the days.  

Ginger’s, opened by the fabulous 55-year-old Sheila Frayne on St. Patrick’s Day no less, became a beacon for the community. It was, and still is, a safe space where women could gather, be themselves, and maybe even score a date with a cute bartender.

While Park Slope’s demographics have shifted, Ginger’s has remained a constant.  

Friday nights turn into dance parties with “Shake IT,” Sundays are all about bingo and bonding, and Thursdays alternate between karaoke nights that would make Whitney Houston proud and happy hours that’ll leave your wallet happy too.

Who knows, maybe you’ll raise a toast to a bygone era of lesbihoods and end up making some new HERstory of your own.

Lovely oasis, nice bar staff and friendly lesbian crowd


Date Activity: Challenge an elder lesbian couple to a round of Truth or Drink. Or if the night is right, find yourself at Dyke Drag and celebrate the sapphic drag stars who put on a show!

16. Lesbian Herstory Archives

People learning about lesbian history at Lesbian Herstory Archives

Source: Lesbian Herstory Archives

The Lesbian Herstory Archives is a place so packed with lesbian past it practically oozes empowerment. Founded in 1974 by a group of women involved in the Gay Academic Union who realized lesbian history was vanishing faster than disco pants, the Archives became a haven for preserving lesbian legacies.

Imagine this: a room brimming with documents, periodicals, and artifacts – a treasure trove of lesbian activism, art, and everyday experiences. We’re talking personal papers from trailblazers like Joan Nestle and Deborah Edel, two of the founders of the Lesbian Herstory Archive, alongside community newsletters and flyers from decades of lesbian pride marches. It’s like getting an unfiltered glimpse into the vibrant tapestry of lesbian life.

Group photo of coordinators in 1993, standing proudly in front of the new Lesbian Herstory Archives building.

Source: Lesbian Herstory Archives

Here’s the best part: The Lesbian Herstory Archives is a living, breathing archive that continues to grow. Researchers visit to unearth forgotten stories, while activists find inspiration in the struggles and triumphs of those who came before them. Plus, who knows? You might just spark a connection with a fellow history buff while you’re browsing the archives.

It was incredible being surrounded by floors (stories!) of herstory. The amount of information on the feminist movement and the gains made internationally was stunning!

Brienna Parsons

Date Activity: Select a small excerpt to read aloud and share with one another. Discuss the way this resonates with your experience as a queer person.

Travel Guide: Its metro time again but stick with it – your last spot is worth the trip

17. The Bush

Scene at The Bush bar: A vibrant atmosphere with purple lighting illuminating a diverse crowd, predominantly queer women and lesbians engaged in lively conversations. Smiling bartenders make drinks behind the counter.

Source: Interview Magazine

The Bush isn’t your grandma’s lesbian bar (though she’d probably love the cocktails). The Bush is a Brooklyn newbie (opened April 2023!), but it’s already a hot spot for queer women who love a little something upscale.

Close-up photo of Nikke Alleyne and Justine LaViolette, co-owners of The Bush, sitting and smiling in front of a pink background.

Source: Wine Enthusiast

But The Bush is more than just fancy drinks (though those craft cocktails are to die for). It’s a place with a heart of gold, thanks to founders LaViolette and Nikke Alleyne. These two saw a gap in the lesbian bar scene and decided to fill it, inspired by the legacy of LGBTQ+ activism that lesbian bars have always embodied.

My favorite queer bar to go to for weekend dancing. It’s more diverse and not too young of a crowd. I feel like they are also good about constantly having fun day and night events going on.

Inside the Bush bar, queer people dance joyfully.

Source: Interview Magazine & Go Magazine

Here’s why The Bush is more than just a date night spot (though, wink wink, nudge nudge):

  • Safe space sanctuary: Back in the day (and sometimes even today!), lesbian bars were havens where you could be yourself without a worry in the world. The Bush carries on that tradition, offering a space where you can relax and be yourself.
  • Squad goals: Lesbian bars have always been about community, and here are no different. They are the place to meet new friends, find your crew, and feel like you belong.Take a risk and say hi to some new people. 
  • Changemakers unite: Lesbian bars have a long history of being at the forefront of LGBTQ+ activism. Think about your connection to the community after this history tour and date and where you feel drawn to support the community next. ✊

So grab your date (or your GFs, no judgment here), and head to The Bush. It’s a night of fun, community, and a little taste of history, all in one stylish package.

Happy Lesbian Visibility Day from all of us at HER!

Phew! What a whirlwind tour of lesbian history, right? We covered so much ground in New York. Every corner you turn holds a story, a secret handshake between generations of fierce women who paved the way for us to be out and proud today. 

Feeling inspired? We are too!

Most importantly, remember, this is a celebration! Lesbian Visibility Day is about honoring our history, but it’s also about looking forward to a brighter future. So go forth, explore New York with your girlfriend (or GFs!), and own your power!

And remember, if you go on the date and share about it on social media, be sure to tag @hersocialapp and use #HERdaylongdate to enter to win $250 credit for a hotel stay for Night 2. 😉 One winner will be selected for London and one for New York. 

Winners will be chosen by May 30th, 2024.

Robyn Exton


Robyn is the CEO & Founder of HER. Find her on Twitter.

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