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A Queer History Tour of the U.S.

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Jun 12, 2022

A Queer History Tour of the U.S.

Pride month brings a host of parades, rainbow-colored items, and general joy, but many are unaware of the rich queer history in the US that led to the LGBTQ+ pride we have today.

Throughout the country, many landmarks shaped the fight and progress of queer people today. Whether you live near one of these areas or plan to take a cross-country road trip, each of these places marks an essential milestone in the fight for queer liberation.

The Women’s Liberation Center, NYC

One of the first and most influential women’s advocacy centers, this was a pivotal place for women’s empowerment and social equity for women of all groups. It was an important meeting space for many women’s groups, including lesbian groups. From 1972 to 1987, the Lesbian Feminist Liberation and the Lesbian Switchboard operated here.

Darcelle, XV- Portland, OR

Darcelle, XV was one of two drag clubs open before 1970 in the country. Owner Walter W. Cole (known as Darcelle, XV) performs as part of the company, while also operating this club still open today. Visit for drag shows, dancing, and drinks.

The Great Wall of Los Angeles- North Hollywood, LA

This half-mile-long mural located in North Hollywood depicts key aspects of California’s history. It was painted between 1974 and 1984 by young artists and their supervisors. The mural depicts historical events from diverse, marginalized communities, including important figures in the LGBTQ rights movement.

James Baldwin Residence, NYC

This home was owned and used as a primary residence for gay rights activist James Baldwin, from 1965 to 1987. Baldwin had a huge influence on American literature and social history. He was very active in the political, social, and literary scenes.

His impact forever shaped the gay rights movement with his many roles, including author, civil rights activist, and social commentator. As a black, gay author, he shaped many discussions during this time surrounding the intersectionality of race and sexuality.

Pulse, Orlando, FL 

Home to a tragic shooting in 2016, this gay bar has now established the onePULSE Foundation – a non-profit organization funding the commemoration of those lost and the support of community members moving forward.

onePULSE has also supported the creation of a National Pulse Memorial and Museum in Orlando.

For this year’s five-year anniversary of the shooting, the organization will hold events such as a Rainbow Run, discussions, and art exhibitions.

Pier 9 Bar- Washington, D.C.

Pier 9 is housed in a warehouse that had many uses before becoming a gay bar in 1970.

Originally catering to gay men, all members of the queer community are welcomed today. The bar was pivotal to transforming the South Capital Street area of DC into a hub for queer nightlife and a safe space for the LGBTQ community.

The Clubhouse- Washington, D.C.

Specifically for queer black people, The Clubhouse was a nightclub serving that community from 1975 to 1990. A safe space for LGBTQ black people was also pivotal in the HIV/AIDS activism movement.

It was also the first home for Us Helping Us, a support and public health organization for queer black men living with HIV/AIDS.

Julius’ Bar, NYC

Located in NYC’s Greenwich Village, Julius’ Bar is significant for its association with the modern gay rights movement. They hosted “sip ins” which challenged early NYC liquor laws that banned liquor from being served to gay or lesbian people, even suspected.

These protests were a pivotal event in the eventual growth of legitimate gay bars.

Rosie the Riveter WWII Home Front National Historical Park

This National Historical Park was once a factory and shipyard during World War II.

It has been considered to be influential in the LGBTQ+ community because of the role it played in allowing workers from all over the country to meet other queer people for the first time.

The park now stands as a museum that preserves the history of not only queer people but workers who fought for women’s and labor rights.

The Compton’s cafeteria riot

In 1966, a police officer attempted to arrest a drag queen in Compton’s Cafeteria.

In response to the unwarranted arrest, she threw a cup of hot coffee in his face, sparking a riot that is considered the first recorded militant queer resistance to police harassment in the United States and is thought to be a turning point in the local LGBTQ+ movement.

Today, Gene Compton’s Cafeteria Riot hosts an immersive theater experience inspired by the riots

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Alexandra hails from Boston, MA but is currently living in the DC Area. She's passionate about social justice, self-care, spirituality, and watching documentaries. She's no stranger to telling her story through writing and has written for a variety of freelance publications. You can find her on Instagram at @lexlexlexlexlex__.

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