Visitor centre dedicated to LGBTQ history to open next door to Stonewall Inn

21 June 2022, 15:34

The Stonewall Inn bar in New York
Stonewall Visitor Center. Picture: PA

The Stonewall rebellion is commemorated every year with Pride marches in cities across the US and the world.

A visitor centre dedicated to telling the story of the LGBTQ rights movement will open next door to The Stonewall Inn in New York City, according to an announcement by the non-profit that will manage the centre in partnership with the National Park Service.

The groundbreaking for the Stonewall National Monument Visitor Centre in the Greenwich Village neighbourhood will take place on Friday, with the centre expected to open in summer 2024, said Ann Marie Gothard, board president of Pride Live, an LGBTQ advocacy organisation.

“The opening of the Stonewall National Monument Visitor Centre is a remarkable moment in the history of Stonewall,” Ms Gothard said.

“We honour all those who came before us, most especially the queer people fighting for equality at the Stonewall riots.”

Patrons sit at the bar in The Stonewall Inn in New York’s Greenwich Village
Patrons sit at the bar in The Stonewall Inn in New York’s Greenwich Village (Richard Drew/AP)

The Stonewall National Monument became the first US national monument dedicated to LGBTQ history when it was dedicated in 2016 across the street from The Stonewall Inn, where patrons fought back against a police raid on June 28 1969 and helped spark the contemporary LGBTQ rights movement.

The Stonewall rebellion is commemorated every year with Pride marches in cities across the US and the world.

This year’s Pride Month in New York kicked off on June 1 with the dedication of a rainbow flag at the Stonewall monument, the first rainbow flag to fly daily on federal land.

The ceremony followed a years-long battle by activists to ensure that a rainbow flag would fly on federal land at the Stonewall monument.

The 7.7-acre monument includes the park known as Christopher Park, across from the Stonewall, but does not include the Stonewall itself, which is still a bar.

The visitor centre will be housed in the storefront adjoining the Stonewall, which was part of the bar in 1969.

Ms Gothard said that when the national monument was created in 2016 “it became clear that a visitor centre was needed”.

The Stonewall visitor centre will offer in-person and virtual tours, lectures and visual arts displays dedicated to the history of the LGBTQ rights movement, Ms Gothard said.

Although it will be managed by Pride Live, the centre will also serve as a home base for National Park Service staff members.

“As President Biden declared in Title VII, ‘every person should be treated with respect and dignity and should be able to live without fear’, and the Stonewall National Monument Visitor Centre will serve as a place where the LGBTQ community can safely gather to celebrate and commemorate its hard-fought history,” US interior secretary Deb Haaland, whose department includes the park service, said in a statement.

Corporations including Google and JPMorgan Chase are providing funding for the centre.

“It’s vital to create safe and inclusive spaces for the LGBTQ community, and we are proud to support the opening of the Stonewall National Monument Visitor Centre, a space that will memorialise the legacy of Stonewall,” said William Floyd, Google’s senior director of public policy.

By Press Association

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