The New York City LGBT Historic Sites Project is an ongoing participatory design project that began in 2014 by Andrew S. Dolkart, Ken Lustbader, and Jay Shockley. The project was made available by the National Park Service grant to create awareness of the LGBT culture and community’s impact on the city and the country in the past. This will be achieved through adding diversity to the National Register of Historic Places.
LGBT individuals and communities of New York city has immensely influenced the history and culture of their city and the rest of United States of America. However even up until today specific sites and places across the city, associated with LGBT history remained invisible and undocumented. In spite of that, the New York City LGBT Historic Sites Project made it their mission to make these unknown and unappreciated sites significant again.
“It will show young people that gay spaces didn’t just develop overnight, and these sites show us that people were not alone in their struggle to come out and develop a sense of community.” – Lustbader
Currently the project is encouraging LGBT scholars, organizations and archives, the LGBT community, and the general public to input their knowledge and to participate in taking surveys to benefit the project in becoming more inclusive and comprehensive on the LGBT influence and history. By the end of 2016 the project aims to introduce an online archive and interactive map of all the research and data documented of significant sites. So far sites such as theatres and performance venues, bars, clubs, and restaurants, residences of notable figures, LGBT rights and organizational sites, the AIDS epidemic, and community and public spaces have been identified as place of significance.
Beside the outreach and input from professionals, organizations, and community members the special project also holds engaging events for the public. The most recent event ‘Making the Invisible Visible: Documenting NYC’s Place-Based LGBT Cultural Heritage’ discusses the use of interactive online map of sites that public will have access to. Although we may not know how the final outcome will look like at this point it is clear that The New York City LGBT Historic Sites Project will provide these documentation to the community in a ground breaking way. Projects that require high participation from the public like this will not only educate people about historic LGBT sites but it will inspire and shape the way we speak up about LGBT.
“This is a narrative: people like them existed for decades, hundreds of years, before they did, and knowing and seeing that can help foster some continuity in their own intangible pride.” – Lustbader
Anzilotti, Ellie. “Mapping Where LGBT History Unfolded in New York .” 22 July 2016. CityLab. 18 August 2016 <http://www.citylab.com/navigator/2016/07/where-lgbt-history-unfolded-in-new-york/492611/>.
New York City LGBT Historic Sites Project. New York City LGBT Historic Sites Project. August 2015. 18 August 2016 <http://nyclgbtsites.org/>.
Warerkar, Tanya. “Meet the Preservationists Who Are Cataloging NYC’s LGBT History.” 24 June 2016. Curbed New York. 19 August 2016 <http://ny.curbed.com/2016/6/24/12019644/nyc-pride-lgbt-historic-sites-project>.
By April Bae