The Stonewall Inn Could Become A National Park

by Alex Gladu

On Sunday, Sen. Kristen Gillibrand and Rep. Jerrold Nadler, both Democrats from New York, announced their plan for the historic Stonewall Inn to become the first national park to commemorate the gay rights movement. The bar, located in Manhattan's Greenwich Village, was the site of an important LGBT uprising in 1969. But there are so many other gay rights sites that should be national parks.

Joined by other elected officials and members of the National Parks Conservation Association and the Human Rights Campaign, Gillibrand and Nadler announced their intent to ask President Obama to designate the tavern as a monument, as a first step toward national park-hood. Congress could then vote on whether or not to officially call the tavern a national park. Throughout the 1960s, the Stonewall Inn — which was supposedly owned by the mafia — became known as a gathering place for members of the LGBT community. At the time, it was illegal in New York to serve alcohol to gay patrons, making the bar an instant symbol of resistance. On June 28, 1969, police raided the bar and patrons rioted in response. Today, the tavern calls itself the "birthplace of the modern gay rights movement" because of that riot. Many gay pride parades and celebrations are held during the month of June to commemorate the riot and the impact it had on the movement as a whole.

The Stonewall Inn is already recognized by the state of New York as an official landmark. If it becomes a national landmark, it will be the first of its kind to pay tribute to the gay rights movement. If the legislators' plan succeeds, there are plenty of other sites across the country that should also be recognized for their roles in the gay rights movement.

1. Boston City Hall


On May 17, 2004, Massachusetts became the first state in the country to allow gay marriages. Hillary and Julie Goodridge, the couple who filed the lawsuit that eventually led to the state's ruling, walked to City Hall together to apply for their marriage license.

2. San Francisco's Market Street

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San Francisco is known for its annual gay pride celebration, which takes place on Market Street. Specifically, that street was the first place that the rainbow flag was flown in support of pride. The flag was designed by San-Fran-based artist Gilbert Baker in 1968.

3. Chicago's Henry Gerber House

Henry Gerber founded the Society for Human Rights, the nation's first gay civil rights organization, out of his home on Crilly Court in Chicago in 1924. Gerber held meetings and published newsletters to spread the gay rights movement from his home. Earlier this year, the National Park Service designated the house a National Historic Landmark.

4. Washington, D.C.'s Frank Kameny House

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Activist Frank Kameny passed away in 2011, but he left behind a lasting legacy for gay rights in the federal government's backyard. He was fired from his job with the Army Map Service in 1957 for being gay, and he was subsequently the first person to bring a gay civil rights case to the Supreme Court. He led protests outside the White House even before the noteworthy Stonewall riot. His home in Washington, D.C. has already gained the National Park Service's landmark status.

5. Cherry Grove Community House And Theater

Cherry Grove is a waterfront community located on New York's Fire Island. Over the years, it has developed a reputation as a haven for members of the LGBT community, thanks in large part to the Cherry Grove Community House and Theater. The Community House was the first American venue to feature productions by gay people. In fact, Senator Gillibrand successfully recommended that it be listed as a historic landmark back in 2013.

The gay rights movement has come a long way thanks to landmarks like these, and the people who have filled them with meaning. As the fight for full equality continues, the potential for the federal government to officially recognize the movement through a national park designation is a step in the right direction.