Welcome to the Gayborhood

Amelia McBain, Contributing Writer

Greenwich Village, the core of life at NYU, houses a vibrant queer community and the historical center of the LGBTQ rights movement. Often overlapping with NYU, this “gayborhood” is filled with places of celebration, mourning, protest and, most of all, community. Here are some of the most important queer sites around the Village to visit.

Washington Square Park

A favorite place for students to spend their downtime between classes, Washington Square Park doubles as a natural center for student life as well as a hub of LGBTQ pride and protest. Both the third-ever Pride Parade in 1973 and the first-ever Dyke March in 1993 ended in Washington Square Park. This pattern continues today. Some recent examples of protests here include the rallies for same-sex marriage in March 2013 and the 12th Annual Trans Day of Action march just last year.

AIDS Memorial

New York City’s AIDS Memorial, dedicated on World AIDS Day in December of last year, honors the more than 100,000 New Yorkers who have died of AIDS. Striking against a background of concrete sidewalks and glass buildings, the massive white triangular sculpture shelters a reflective fountain. Engraved in the concrete circling around the fountain are words from Walt Whitman’s “Song of Myself,” a poem of hope, dignity and togetherness. It is fitting that the memorial is in Greenwich, a historically queer neighborhood, because gay men were and are disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS. The memorial is built on the site of the former St. Vincent Hospital’s campus because it housed the first AIDS ward in New York, the second in the nation. Though terribly sad, this memorial and the park adjacent to it are good for a moment of thought or reflection.

Stonewall

The Stonewall Inn on Christopher Street is, definitively, the birthplace of the gay rights movement. It started when the NYPD raided the beloved bar and dance club on June 28, 1969. Instead of complying, the patrons of the bar resisted the police. Thirteen people were arrested and the riots that followed lasted six days and garnered thousands of protesters. The riots at Stonewall inspired LGBTQ people from around the country to organize and fight for their rights. The bar is now a National Historic Landmark, but it is still open for business. There is also a park and art installation across from it for those under 21 that would like to visit.

A version of this article appeared in the Monday, Sept. 18 print edition. Email Amelia McBain at [email protected]