Owner Helen Buford with longtime bartender Daniel Onzo
On the corner of West 10th and Waverly Place sits Julius’ Bar, New York City’s oldest gay bar. Constructed in the middle of the 19th-century, the landmarked Greenwich Village building first opened as a grocery store and later became a bar. In addition to being one of the oldest continuously operating bars in the city, Julius’ is also known for its historic “Sip-In” on April 26, 1966, when members of the Mattachine Society–one of the country’s earliest LGBT rights organizations–protested the state law that prohibited bars from serving “suspected gay men or lesbians.” Not only did the demonstration lead to the courts ruling in 1967 that gay people had the legal right to assemble and be served alcohol, but it also became one of the most significant instances of gay rights activism before the Stonewall Riots in 1969.
Like many businesses forced to close because of the coronavirus pandemic, especially now that indoor dining is on hold indefinitely, Julius’ owner Helen Buford is struggling to pay the bills and launched a fundraising campaign this month to help save the bar. Ahead, go behind the scenes of Julius’ while it remains closed, learn about its unique history from longtime bartenders Daniel Onzo and Tracy O’ Neill, and hear more from Helen about the struggle to survive as a small business during COVID-19.
Go behind the scenes
Via NPCA on Flickr
Millions will converge in New York City this weekend to celebrate events which took place in and outside of a Greenwich Village bar 50 years ago. The Stonewall Riots will not only be memorialized here in New York City, but those events have come to take on international significance. There are celebrations and marches in countries across the globe, with the name ‘Stonewall’ also used by countless organizations and entities around the world to signify the quest for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) equality.
But 50 years ago those three nights of protests were barely noticed beyond the boundaries of the local neighborhood and a small but energized group of activists and rabble-rousers. They garnered little media attention, and most of the attention received was pretty negative – including from the gay community. So how did the events at the Stonewall 50 years ago go from an obscure set of disturbances at the tail end of the decade marked by strife and disorder, to an internationally-recognized symbol of a civil rights movement? Ahead, learn about Stonewall’s long road to becoming a civil rights landmark.
Image via Flickr
Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising and culminating the monthlong WorldPride festivities, this year’s NYC Pride March taking place on Sunday, June 30 is set to be the largest Pride parade since the tradition launched in 1970. Approximately two million people attend the event each year, making it the biggest Pride celebration in the world, and that number should easily be surpassed this year.
Routes, street closures, and more
Photo of Madison Square Garden via NYC and Company
This month, 19 buildings throughout the five boroughs will be lighting up rainbow in honor of WorldPride and the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. The city-wide display is part of NYC and Company’s Project Rainbow, a marketing initiative led by the city’s official tourism organization. Among the sites listed are the Empire State Building, Madison Square Garden, and the World Trade Center.
Find out where to be on the lookout for Pride-themed lights…
Their neighbor to the west Greenwich Village may be more well known as a nexus for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender history, but the East Village and Noho are chock full of LGBT culture as well, from the site of one the very first LGBT demonstrations to the homes of some of the greatest openly-LGBT artists and writers of the 20th century to the birthplace of New York’s largest drag festival. Ahead, we round up 23 examples, from Walt Whitman’s favorite watering hole to Allen Ginsberg’s many local residences to Keith Haring’s studio.
Learn the history of all the spots
There’s no better way to enjoy the warm weather and see all New York has to offer than by taking a walking tour. Not just for tourists anymore, you can learn more about city history, find a new favorite spot to eat, and even discover some Instagram-worthy views. Ahead, we’ve rounded up 10 of the most fun and information tours in NYC, from superheroes and ghosts to swing dance and pork buns.
Find out more
Photo: Marc A. Hermann / MTA New York City Transit
The Federal government may be banning Pride flags at U.S. embassies, but here in New York, our city agencies are prouder than ever to show off the rainbow. The latest initiative comes from the MTA, who has revealed a special set of Pride MetroCards, along with Pride-themed Transit merchandise and a new Pride logo on select subway cars. All of the festive additions mark not only World Pride being hosted in NYC this year but the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising.
“GAA and Vito Russo marching in 1st Christopher St Liberation Day Parade,” The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1970.
Decades ago, New York City’s Pride Parade was controversial because it focused on LGBTQ rights. And while there’s always more work to be done, five decades later, the LGBTQ community has gained legal recognition and acceptance. And in sharp contrast to the first Pride March, the annual event now seems to attract as many politicians and corporate sponsors as it does activists. But one controversy persists—the Pride Parade route itself.
Route this way
Photo of Gwen and “Girl Party Wallpaper” series, courtesy of Gwen Shockey
After 49 people were killed in a mass shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando in 2016, New York City artist Gwen Shockey gathered with queer people at the Cubbyhole and Stonewall Inn to mourn. The tragedy made Gwen think about the importance of lesbian bars and safe spaces for this community. She began talking with her friends, interviewing them about coming out and navigating NYC’s queer community. This laid the groundwork for Gwen’s 2017 “Addresses” project, a digital map marking more than 200 current and former queer and lesbian bars across the five boroughs. Using information from interviews she’s conducted and from police records and newspapers, Gwen found each location and photographed what sits there now.
“It felt like a secret pilgrimage, going to each location and looking for a site that was more or less invisible to everyone else around me,” she told us. And with just three lesbian bars remaining in NYC today, the need to preserve the memories of these places seems more apparent than ever. Through her project, which is ongoing, Gwen realized that although the number of lesbian bars in the city is dropping, there are “huge shifts occurring in the queer community toward inclusion not based on identity categories but based on who needs safe space now and who needs space to dance, to express their authenticity, and to be intimate.” Gwen shared with 6sqft the process of tracking the lesbian bars of NYC’s past and lessons she’s learned about the city’s LGBTQ history along the way.
Last year’s Pride Parade outside the Stonewall Inn, via Wiki Commons
In about a month New York will be in the throes of celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, three nights of disturbances from June 28th to June 30th 1969, which are recognized globally as the start of the modern LGBT rights movement. But Stonewall is only one of the scores of important LGBT landmarks in Greenwich Village – the homes of people, events, businesses and institutions dating from more than a century ago to just a few years ago. Thanks to landmark designation, most of these sites still stand. Here are just some of the dazzling array of those, all still extant, which can be found in the neighborhood which is arguably the nexus of the LGBT universe.