Share on Pinterest
Share with your friends

Hotel Deals for New York
Jan 23 - Jan 23, 2019
per night from
$ 420
$ 168

Would queer culture as we know it even exist without New York? The largest and most thrilling city in the United States has been at the center of the LGBTQ movement for more than a century, beginning with an underground culture that kicked off in the 1800s and leading to the summer of ’69 Stonewall Riots which ignited a revolution and led to the securing of shared rights and responsibilities decades later. Nevermind that the city’s reputation as the leading center of U.S. art, literature, theater and fashion means that hundreds of queer icons have made their mark here. Here are 10 things you probably didn’t know about LGBTQ NYC.

RELATED: The 10 hottest gay destinations for 2017

1. Just try and find us a New York homosexual who hasn’t danced the night away at famed nightclub the Pyramid in a gauzy haze of ‘80s nostalgia. An East Village fixture, the Pyramid opened in 1979 and established itself as a Regan-era gay and drag hangout. RuPaul gave her first New York City show here in 1982 and other queer icons to grace its premises include Lady Bunny, Andy Warhol, Madonna and Anohni (formerly Antony Hegarty). These days the Pyramid is almost all ‘80s and ’90s, all the time. Sometimes it’s straight up top 40 hits while other times it goes goth, but if you’ve got a hankering to “get into the groove,” you’ll be well rewarded.

The Village, LGBTQ, NYC

The Village | Flickr photo courtesy of In Sappho We Trust

2. An epicenter of bohemia, much that is queer about NYC originated in the Village. Gay bars have thrived in the Village since at least the 1890s; James Baldwin and Lorraine Hansberry once resided here and LGBTQ-owned establishments—like Julius’s— persist to this day. A favorite of Tennessee Williams, Truman Capote, Rudolf Nureyev and other queer icons, Julius’s first started attracting a queer clientele in the ‘50s, making it the oldest gay bar in the city. It was the site of a 1966 “Sip In” arranged by the Mattachine Society to challenge the New York State Liquor Authority’s ban on serving liquor to patrons it deemed “disorderly.” A Village fixture, a visit to Julius’s is an NYC must.

Stonewall, LGBTQ, NYC

Stonewall Inn | Flickr photo by Travis Wise

3. The Stonewall Inn is a bar, a community gathering place and a LGBTQ treasure. Did you also know it’s a National Monument? Its legend is widely known. In the early hours of June 28, 1969, all hell broke loose when queer patrons fought back against a police raid and incited a riot that turned violent. The event sparked enough outrage to at last bring nationwide attention to gay rights. On June 24, 2016 President Barack Obama dedicated a 7.7-acre area including the bar, Christopher Park and the block of Christopher Street bordering the park as Stonewall National Monument, a first of its kind monument devoted to LGBT history. A ranger station, visitor center and interpretive exhibits are forthcoming, but don’t leave a visit to Stonewall off your NYC to-do list.

4. Don’t let any New Yorkers try and take you for a ride—unless they happen to be drag queens and that ride is a luxury motor coach outfitted with 40 TV screens, stadium-style seating and lots of attitude. Every Saturday night the Queen of the Ride booze bus picks up its guests in front of gay bar Hardware and takes them on a drag queen-led journey around Manhattan starring either Lady Bunny or Shequida, and featuring acerbic commentary, live performances and free-flowing booze. Got motion sickness? Production company Voss Events also hosts a Drag Brunch every Sunday at the Highline Ballroom, often featuring stars from Drag Race.

Lesbian Herstory Archives

Lesbian Herstory Archives | Flickr photo courtesy of Elyaqim Mosheh Adam

5. An extensive documentation of the gay women’s experience is housed in an unassuming Brooklyn Brownstone. The Park Slope-based Lesbian Herstory Archives has its roots in queer activism, born out of a student organization founded in the early ‘70s whose female members broke from the group to focus on women’s concerns. The Lesbian Herstory Archives is now a thriving community center and museum, and contains the world’s largest collection of print materials, photos and films by and about lesbians. Visitors can view Mabel Hampton’s lesbian pulp fiction, materials from the Daughters of Bilitis, manuscripts from Audre Lorde, L Word press materials and more.

6. Ever heard the phrase “straight, but not narrow?” Meet the West Village home that’s narrow—but hardly straight. The address is 75½ Bedford Street and it’s referred to as the narrowest house in NYC (it’s only 9 feet and 6 inches wide). Former residents include bisexual actor Cary Grant and openly bisexual poet Edna St. Vincent Millay. The house sold for 3.25 million in 2013 and although there’s little to see, soak in some Village character by walking to nearby tavern Chumley’s where Millay hung out during the Roaring Twenties with famous literary friends like Hemingway, the Fitzgeralds and Steinbeck. It’s even rumored that being thrown out of the bar (located at 86 Bedford Street) is where the term “86ed” originated.

Riis Beach, LGBTQ, NYC, Queens

Riis Beach in Queens | Flickr photo by David Shankbone

7. Manhattan might loom large in the imagination as the city’s gay playground, but there are LGBT bars and hangouts in other boroughs. Brooklyn boasts a thriving queer scene, including a community center, a Pride Day and bars like Williamsburg hangout Metropolitan and youthful This n’ That, among others. Queens, meanwhile, also boasts its own Pride, an LGBTQ senior center, the Bushwig Drag Festival and numerous bars, including Friends’ Tavern, True Colors, Bum Bum Bar and Hombres Lounge. On a hot summer day, make the trek to gay-frequented Riis Beach in the Rockaways.

The Breslin, Ace Hotel, NYC

The Breslin at the Ace Hotel

8. If you’re hankering for a side of queer with that hangover mimosa, you won’t be unsatisfied in any of lesbian chef April Bloomfield’s locales. The star chef is one of the most celebrated in town and now boasts a mini empire of Gotham eateries, including the Michelin-starred spots the Spotted Pig and the Breslin at the Ace Hotel. There’s also out chef Gabrielle Hamilton’s beloved brunch spot Prune in the East Village. Enjoy a sweet treat at Upper East Side dessert shop Serendipity 3, where a young Andy Warhol was a frequent patron and, although the Waverly Inn might not be the celebrity hangout it was 10 years ago, check out its famous Edward Sorel mural featuring LGBTQ legends Truman Capote, Walt Whitman, James Baldwin and Fran Lebowitz (a Waverly Inn regular).

Hotel Chelsea, NYC, New York

Hotel Chelsea | Flickr photo by Andrew Malone

9. The ghosts of old New Yorkers linger everywhere around town, but perhaps no more so than at the fabled Hotel Chelsea. Attractive to writerly types because the hotel was once home to the likes of Mark Twain, Dylan Thomas and Arthur Miller, the Chelsea icon also boasts a LGBTQ past: Madonna was a resident in the early ‘80s and returned in 1992 to shoot scenes for her Sex book. Other former tenants include Tennessee Williams, enfant terrible shutterbug Robert Mapplethorpe and Stonewall icon and activist Stormé DeLarverie. The landmarked hotel is currently closed for renovations, but do stop by to super yummy Donut Plant on the ground floor.

Schenck Leslie-Lohman Museum, LGBTQ, New York City

Schenck Leslie-Lohman Museum | Photo courtesy of the museum

10. Is there really such a thing as a queer perspective? You’ll certainly start thinking so after visiting the Leslie + Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art in Soho. It is the only museum of its kind devoted exclusively to LGBTQ visual artists and includes the works of Andy Warhol, Catherine Opie, David Wojnarowicz, Keith Haring, George Platt Lynes, Jean Cocteau, Del LaGrace Volcano, Tom of Finland and Deborah Bright in its permanent collection. Past exhibitions have explored AIDS in America, gender queerness, gay New York, self-portraiture, ‘70s activism and more.


Tagged: New York

Note: Orbitz compensates authors for their writings appearing on this site.

Jason Heidemann

Jason Heidemann

Jason is a Lead Content Specialist for Expedia Group, and manages content initiatives across numerous Expedia-owned brands. His work has been featured in the Chicago Tribune, Time Out, the Huffington Post, Chicago Magazine, Passport and many others.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *