National Park Service to Highlight Sites Related to Gay History

Saturday, May 31, 2014
Frank Kameny (photo: Jahi Chikwendiu, Washington Post)

Declaring part of its duty is to tell the history of the gay rights movement, the National Park Service (NPS) will place markers at significant locations that note the advancement of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans.


 “Symbolically it’s hugely important that now LGBT history is officially part of the national narrative,” Eliza Byard, executive director of the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, told the Associated Press. “This is part of what our federal government will identify, preserve and single out.”


The announcement by Interior Secretary Sally Jewell came at the Stonewall Inn in New York, long considered the birthplace of the modern gay rights movement. Members of the gay community rioted after a June 1969 police raid on the bar. The site was designated a national historic landmark 14 years ago.


One location already recognized on the federal government’s National Register of Historic Places is the former Washington D.C. home of Dr. Franklin E. Kameny, who became an early gay rights activist after he was fired from his job as an Army astronomer in 1957 for being homosexual. Fire Island’s Cherry Grove Community House & Theater, are also both on the National Register of Historic Places.


The NPS will consider placing markers at other areas around the country recommended by a panel of 18 scholars now at work.


Sites could include the building that once housed Castro Camera in San Francisco, the business owned by activist and local politician Harvey Milk, who was assassinated in 1978. The Human Rights Campaign, an LGBT equality group, currently operates an office there.


Another possibility is the Henry Gerber House in Chicago, where the Society for Human Rights, the first U.S. gay rights organization, was founded in the 1920s.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

A Place in History for Gay, Transgender Americans (by Karen Matthews, Associated Press)

National Park Service Will Start Promoting Historic LGBT Sites (by Abby Ohlheiser, The Wire)


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