New York City's history of Gay people

New York City is one of the most multi-cultural cities if the world. Its vast size represents the epitome of the modern-day world: hosting a range of clubs, bars and American culture which cannot be experienced anywhere in the world. It is one of the most popular places for people to add to their bucket list of places to visit and live – the concrete jungle where dreams are made of. One of the reasons it has been given such a reputation, is because of its people. Anything goes in New York City one of the most open-minded cultures in the world.

However, it has not always been quite so accepting and open-minded as it is today. Over 40 years ago, for example, one of the biggest riots in Gay history took place, known as the ‘Stonewall riots.’ This led to a number of protests in 1969 – arguably one of the biggest periods of unrest in Gay history. During this era, the Gay community realised that they needed a solid base to protect their rights, and so the ‘Gay Liberation Front’ was formed, a group of people who created the newspaper ‘Gay’ and organised the ‘Gay Activists Alliance.’

From these momentous - yet equally distressing – protests, New York City has long been known as the centre of gay pride. The courage that the Gay community had in facing up to the challenges of their own identity symbolises the spirit and strength with which the community have based their characteristics on. It has forced society to change its attitude somewhat since 1890 when ‘The Bowery’ in New York was known as a ‘degenerate resort’ for gay men.

After the Second World War, the gay community also faced another major challenge. Attitudes in society turned against the community, to the point which led to the Stonewall riots in 1969. These riots are often recognised as the place that ‘gay pride’ began and shows how the gay community hit back at the derogatory attitudes towards them. The next massive challenge to stereotypes, posing a huge threat to the gay community, came ten years later.

In 1979, a new crisis was reported on news channels all over the world. The outbreak of HIV and AIDS was one which shook the world, and claimed many lives from the gay community of New York. Action was needed and so, in 1981, an individual by the name of Larry Kramer created an organisation called the ‘Gay Men’s Health Crisis’ who had one clear objective: to end AIDS for good, whilst enriching the lives of those suffering. In 1981, his work provoked a response and reaction from the government and the community. This led to the creation of the AIDS coalition to unleash power (ACTUP) and subsequently, the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community (LGBT).

The LGBT is a solid community, showing support and providing services for friends and family – the type of solidarity and spirit shown since Stonewall. The community now also supports victims of domestic violence, substance abuse, illnesses and acts against anti-gay societies. It has played a pivotal role in the open-minded living in New York today.

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