I always love finding a little bit of history that has been solidified in existence when so much of our history has been literally burned out of existence and covered up by a heteronormative society who want to keep using the argument of it being a ‘new’ phenomena so it can’t be real as an argument not to give us equal rights!
So for Pride month I wanted to show you where you can find these little pieces of history when we go travelling around the globe. This is an incomplete list but I tried to find as many as possible!
New York City
AIDS memorial in Greenwich Village, Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village
San Francisco plaque on the corner of Taylor and Turk dedicated to Compton’s cafeteria riot and the Castro district – marked the beginning of trans activism in San Francisco and was before the Stonewall riot – it began with a trans woman resisting arrest by throwing a cup of coffee in a police officers face and followed by drag queens pouring into the streets fighting back with their heels and heavy handbags. There is also a tour in San Francisco of historic LGBT+ sites, this includes Harvey Milk’s old shop/home, the first openly gay elected official in California’s history.
Washington DC Congressional Cemetery with dedicated LGBT section
Key West, Florida Tennessee Williams was an out playwright and there is an exhibit in the auditorium in the local library. They have a recording of him reading his poetry.
Chicago, Illinois The Henry Gerber House was the location of the first Queer magazine and organisation in America (1924) there is also the legacy walk.
Philadelphia historic marker across from independence hall, rainbow crosswalks and street signs. There’s also a marker in their Gayborhood noting the first gay bookstore in the United States.
Manchester Alan Turing memorial Sackville Park war hero acclaimed mathematician cracked the enigma code that led to allied victory of World War Two. There’s also an LGBT+ heritage trail full of locations I don’t know anything about but lovely to see one of the UK’s gay cities is rich in Queer history and so forward with teaching people about it and showing it off.
York has a plaque for Anne Lister the Gentleman Jack at Shibden Hall, Halifax where she ‘took sacrament’ to ‘seal her union’ with Anne Walker Easter. I assume that means they were unofficially married. Anne Lister was a gender-nonconforming Lesbian diarist who wrote a lot but most well known for her writing about her lesbian love affairs.
London Gay’s The Word Bookshop Bloomsbury. The base for LGSM during Thatcher’s time. Want to learn a bit more? Watch the film Pride. There is also a documentary.
Admiral Duncan Pub, Soho Square has a memorial chandelier and plaque inside dedicated to the people who died and were injured during the homophobic bombing in 1999.
Oscar Wilde is a big one who seems to have a lot of permanent notoriety around the world and has several plaques in London alone. The open plaque society have a few on their list around the UK and Ireland you can check out. One plaque is located at his home in Kensington and Chelsea, another located at Langham Hotel in Portland Place London of a history dinner which lead to ‘The Sign Of Four’ and ‘The Picture Of Dorian Gray’. There is also a plaque for the St. James Theatre which was demolished as it held the first productions of Wilde’s ‘Lady Windermere’s Fan’ and ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’. Finally we have the Rainbow plaque at Clapham Junction and commemorated where Wilde suffered homophobic abuse and an attack.
Brent/Kinsbury, London will be gaining a George Michael (Wham!) mural in September 2020
Liverpool, News From Nowhere is an indie bookshop, similar to Gay’s The Word. Supported the Miners’ strike in the ’80s, members of the early women’s movement and the gay liberation movement were drawn here. It’s known as a radical and community bookshop, and though it may not be specifically queer lit, they provide a lot of it along with feminist literature and inclusive children’s books.
Leeds, The Bookish Type in an independent queer pop-up bookshop.
Glasgow, Scotland has a bookshop too! Category is Books is an indie queer bookshop, and has only been open since September 2018! They stock new and secondhand books and other literature. They also do local delivery.
Amsterdam, the Netherlands Homomonument near the Anne Frank Museum (three large pink triangles on the floor) first monument in the world to commemorate queer people killed by the nazis. one corner points to the national war memorial on dam square, on points at house of anne frank, third to the hq coc nederland the dutch gay rights group. More info here.
Lesbos Greek Island the island of poets, Sappho is from there. Yes, where Santana and Brittany from Glee ran off to at the end of season 5. Sadly there’s nothing particularly gay about it. I didn’t find much on it.
Brussels mural of Brousaille (created by Frank Pé, right picture) located in the gay village at the intersection between rue marché au charbon and rue des teinturiers. it’s a picture of the character who is an animal detective walking with an arm around his girlfriend catherine who looks quite andro and has become the symbol of gay love
Paris, France also has a few locations for Oscar Wilde. You can stay in the hotel room Wilde died in (no thanks, but you do you) and his grave is in Paris’ Père Lachaise Cemetery for you to visit.
Israel, Tel Aviv – the memorial for LGBT+ victims of the nazi persecution. honouring victims of the holocaust, Jewish and non Jewish victims. three pink benches forming a triangle. In Hebrew, German and English ‘in memory of those persecuted by the nazi regime for their sexual orientation and gender identity’
Hobart, Tasmania, Australia has a public art piece to commemorate the largest act of gay rights civil disobedience in Australian history. The artwork is made up of two sentences embedded across the footpath of Salamanca Place which are lit yellow and orange from below. The sentences read: “Forgive me for not holding you in my arms” and “In the wake of your courage I swim”.
These are just few of many, hopefully I can make another one of these sometime and find more around the globe dedicated to historical figures and historical events that aren’t often spoken of. I’d also like to recommend Queer Intentions for beginning reading, it’s a really accessible book. I’m planning on reading Trans Britain to learn more about the history in Britain, as I know close to zero. Only by learning the true history will we be able to avoid repeating it and making change. The world is not friendly to anyone right now so try to be kind, help each other out and remember who has been there for you.
If you know of other places, leave it in the comments! Preferably not related to drinking or clubbing.