NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project honored with award for ‘making a once invisible history visible’
November 5, 2022
By: Muri Assunção
A New York City nonprofit that focuses on documenting sites that are connected to the city’s rich LGBTQ history and culture has been recognized for its “trailblazing approach to making a once invisible story visible.”
The NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project on Friday received the Trustees’ Award for Organizational Excellence from the National Trust for Historic Preservation, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that works in the field of historic preservation in the United States.
The award, which honors “superlative and continued achievement in historic preservation by an organization,” was presented to Ken Lustbader, the organization’s co-founder and co-director.
“Having the Washington-based, National Trust for Historic Preservation, recognize LGBTQ site-based history is important and helps legitimize our work,” Lustbader told the Daily News.
“The imprimatur of the Trust sends the message that LGBTQ history is part of the American experience and story,” he added. “It will help pave the way for other projects around the country.”
Their work is “especially important now with the pushback on LGBT rights throughout the country,” Lustbader said when accepting the honor.
State Senator Brad Hoylman, a Manhattan Democrat and a powerful voice for LGBTQ rights, told The News that the group’s recognition “shows that queer history is American history,” calling the honor a “triumphant moment for our communities.”
For the past seven years, the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project has been an authoritative voice in the preservation of historic sites that have been closely associated with the LGBTQ community across the five boroughs.
Its website includes a robust searchable and interactive map that features nearly 400 sites — including cultural institutions, queer- and trans-owned residences, businesses and bars — that paint a clear picture of the LGBTQ influence on American culture.
Launched in 2015 by Lustbader, Andrew Dolkart and Jay Shockley — three renowned experts in LGBTQ history, documentation, and historic preservation— the initiative has documented historic and cultural sites that helped to form the narrative of the LGBTQ liberation movement in New York City, from the 17th century until the year 2000, with a goal of documenting an important part of history that could be otherwise forgotten or overlooked.
At that time, there were only two sites listed in the National Register for Historic Places for their LGBTQ associations. Today, there are 27 across the U.S., 11 of which are in New York City.