Above: U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell (center) at a press conference outside the Stonewall Inn in 2014, announcing a national initiative for recognizing LGBT history. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)
A vacation house where Truman Capote wrote Breakfast at Tiffany's. A bar where the act of ordering drinks was a stand for gay rights. The apartment where Bayard Rustin lived while working to advance almost every social justice movement in the nation and world.
These are among the LGBT historic sites that have been recognized by the National Park Service over the past few years. And to mark its 100th anniversary, the National Park Service is highlighting LGBT history, along with the history of other long-marginalized groups.
This month, for National Coming Out Day, the Park Service released LGBTQ America: A Theme Study of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer History, a document of more than 1,200 pages chronicling our history and the places it’s been made. And this year the service officially recognized the historic nature of several sites associated with the movement for LGBT equality.
“In 2016 the National Park Service is marking our centennial anniversary and the … 50th anniversary of the National Historic Preservation Act on October 15 with a renewed commitment to share a more complete history of our nation with the next generation of Americans,” said National Park Service director Jonathan B. Jarvis in a press release. “Through heritage initiatives like the LGBTQ theme study, the National Park Service is commemorating the inspiring stories of minorities and women who have made significant contributions to our nation’s history and culture.”
The study, available online, was written by experts on LGBT history and coordinated by the Park Service with support from the National Park Foundation and funding from the Gill Foundation as part of a broader initiative under the Obama administration to ensure that the Park Service reflects and tells a more complete story of the people and events responsible for building this nation.
The year saw President Obama designate the Stonewall Inn and the area surrounding it as a National Historic Monument, making it the first one associated with LGBT history. The Stonewall, in New York City's Greenwich Village, was the site of a 1969 uprising by patrons against police harassment, an event that played a key role in launching the modern LGBT rights movement. In 2015 another important LGBT site, the Henry Gerber House in Chicago, was named a National Historic Landmark by Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell. The two statuses differ primarily in the procedure by which properties are designated.
Also, in 2016 four LGBT-related sites were named to the National Register of Historic Places, bringing the total of such sites on the register to eight. This is a designation for which private property owners apply to the Park Service.
Watch a video about these historic sites below, and go through the following pages for more detailed information on each.