Pride Live, a social advocacy and community engagement organization for the LGBTQ+ community, has announced plans to open the Stonewall National Monument Visitor Center (SNMVC).
Set to be the first LGBTQ+ visitor center within the National Park Service (NPS), a bureau of the U.S. Department of the Interior, the center marks a landmark achievement and leap forward in American history.
The SNMVC is scheduled to open in the summer of 2024 and will occupy nearly 3,700 square feet at 51 Christopher Street, between Waverly Place and 7th Avenue South in New York City. With support from Google, the groundbreaking ceremony will be livestreamed at YouTube.com/c/pridelive at 10:30AM ET on June 24.
When the Stonewall Rebellion took place on June 28, 1969, the Stonewall Inn was made up of two locations – 53 Christopher Street, where the current Stonewall Inn bar is located today, and 51 Christopher Street. Located at 51 Christopher Street, the future home of the SNMVC will reunite the historic Stonewall Inn and commemorate the events of the Stonewall Rebellion in their authentic locations.
“The opening of the Stonewall National Monument Visitor Center is a remarkable moment in the history of Stonewall,” said Ann Marie Gothard, President of the Pride Live Board of Directors. “We honor all those who came before us, most especially the queer people fighting for equality at the Stonewall Rebellion. The designation as a National Monument and the opening of this visitor center will memorialize their important legacy in the gay rights movement, and we hope will inspire future generations to continue fighting for LGBTQ+ equality.”
With a mission to preserve, advance and celebrate the legacy of the Stonewall Rebellion and the Stonewall National Monument, the SNMVC will serve as a beacon for generations to come, providing the unique opportunity to visit the very site where history was made and where the fight for LGBTQ+ equality visibly shifted with new waves of activism. The SNMVC will offer an immersive experience welcoming all people to explore and experience LGBTQ+ history and culture through in-person and virtual tours, lecture series, exhibitions and visual arts displays. In addition, the SNMVC will serve as home base for the dedicated National Park Service Rangers, who are responsible for the preservation of the Stonewall National Monument.
“The designation of Stonewall as a National Monument is an important step in memorializing an invaluable historical landmark that represents courage, hope and triumph for the LGBTQ community,” said Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland. “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 Center will serve as a place where the LGBTQ community can safely gather to celebrate and commemorate its hard-fought history.”
“The new Stonewall National Monument Visitor Center will serve as an important memorial for the Stonewall Uprising, an iconic and pivotal moment in the essential effort to fully realize America’s founding ideal that we are all created equal,” said U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer.
“I’m proud New York will be home to the first LGBTQ+ visitor center within the National Park Service, honoring the LGBTQ+ community and their history. As a proud parent of a LGBTQ+ person, I won’t stop fighting against the unprecedented and unjust discrimination the LGBTQ+ community continues to face today.”
Founding supporters of the SNMVC include Google – the first corporate partner to sign on, The Kors Le Pere Foundation, JPMorgan Chase & Co., AARP, Target, David Yurman, Amazon, National Football League, Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi, Lana and Lilly Wachowski, United Therapeutics, New York Yankees and global activist and ally Josephine Skriver, who made the inaugural donation to the campaign.
“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 Center, a space that will memorialize the legacy of Stonewall,” said William Floyd, Senior Director of Public Policy at Google.
“This groundbreaking is a significant moment in LGBTQ history, and we are thrilled to share this remarkable occasion with a global audience through our YouTube livestream.”
Designated by President Barack Obama on June 24, 2016, the Stonewall National Monument includes the 0.19-acre formerly known as Christopher Park and the surrounding streets including Christopher Street adjacent to the park. The Stonewall National Monument is the first U.S. national monument dedicated to LGBTQ+ rights and history.
The journey in recognizing LGBTQ+ history as American history was aided by entrepreneur, philanthropist and LGBTQ+ activist Tim Gill. In 2014, the Gill Foundation recognized a glaring omission of historic LGBTQ sites in the nation’s official records, and the organization made a grant to the National Park Service to commission a first-of-its-kind LGBTQ Theme Study, published in 2016. A separate advocacy campaign to designate the Stonewall National Monument was spearheaded by the National Parks Conservation Association, which worked with elected officials, NPS, historians and community stakeholders, culminating in 2016.
Pride Live convened a panel of experts who volunteered to advise on a range of issues related to the mission and development of the SNMVC. Advisory members include Joy Blackwood, Northeast Senior Regional Director, National Parks Conservation Association; Ken Lustbader, Co-Founder, NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project; and Eliza Byard, former Executive Director of GLSEN. Pride Live was represented by David Graffof Compass; Jody Markman of Markman Law; James P. Colgate, Partner, Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP; and Daniel Forester, Partner, and Daniel Kearney, Associate, Orrick. Additionally, Pride Live is grateful for the support of Superintendent Shirley McKinney of the National Park Service, who was integral in facilitating the necessary agreements for the space.
Diversified Production Services is managing the production of the groundbreaking ceremony and live stream with support from iHeartMedia. Fremont Blue Events is leading the management of the ceremony, with The Social Edge and Christopher Street Tours overseeing the launch of the SNMVC’s social platforms.
MBB Architects will lead the design process with support from LGBTQ+ historians, activists and community leaders. Local Projects will lead the experiential, exhibit and educational process.
Further support has been provided by a leading group of activists, trailblazers, community leaders and allies called the Stonewall Rebels. Led by SNMVC National Chair Andrea Himmel, this group includes Geena Rocero, Heather Hiles, Helena Durst, Kelly Bush Novak, Lee Tucker, Brad Baumoel, Judith Kasen-Windsor, Rose Marcario, Silvia Vasquez-Lavado, John-Paul Hayworth and Torrence Boone.
Additionally, TransTech Social Enterprises curated a collective of trans artists, one of whom was selected to design the inaugural and historic SNMVC membership card. The winner was Ang R. Bennett, who is an artist, curator, model, and trans and non-binary queer activist. Their painting will be revealed at the groundbreaking ceremony.
Brooklyn-based Lia Clay Miller, a world-renowned portrait and fashion photographer, will document every aspect of the development of the SNMVC, beginning at the groundbreaking ceremony, to the design and construction phase, and culminating with the grand-opening.
“The Stonewall National Monument provides the LGBTQ+ community with a physical representation of the struggle for justice and equal treatment under the law and in our society,” said Assemblymember Deborah J. Glick. “This place allows for interpretation of the long path that our community has been on and is a way to teach all Americans about who we are. I was proud to be part of the effort to create this monument and am elated to see the groundbreaking of the Stonewall National Monument Visitor Center, which will truly make LGBTQ+ history a part of what draws people to New York Cityand give weight to our historical record.”
“I was proud to champion the effort to designate the first-ever national monument to LGBTQ+ history at the historic site of the Stonewall Uprising in New York City,” said Congressman Jerrold Nadler.
“The opening of the Stonewall National Monument Visitor Center will allow Americans to learn about these critical events in our history. Now more than ever, it is essential that we recognize the events at Stonewall that launched the modern LGBTQ+ civil rights movement here and worldwide. Since President Obama designated the monument, millions of Americans have had the chance to learn about these historic events. This new visitor center will honor the legacy of the brave members of the LGBTQ+ community who fought for their civil rights and support those who continue the fight for full equality today.”
The Stonewall National Monument Visitor Center will be funded by donations from the community and allies.