Queering Broadway: 120-Year Legacy of LGBT Performers & Creators

June 8, 2023 | 6:30 PM


Where did LGBT Hollywood stars like Katharine Hepburn and Montgomery Clift get their start? Where were plays by Tennessee Williams, Edward Albee, and Tony Kushner premiered? And where did Lorraine Hansberry make African American theater history with her landmark 1959 play A Raisin in the Sun? Join co-director Jay Shockley, the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project’s resident theater guru, for a virtual tour of the Broadway Theater District, ahead of the 2023 Tony Awards!


The theater constitutes one of the city’s primary creative and economic forces, and the LGBT community has had a significant and disproportionate impact on the Broadway stage. This included the contributions of major LGBT performers, playwrights, directors, composers, lyricists, librettists, choreographers, and set, costume and lighting designers who created many of Broadway’s most iconic shows. Despite the New York Legislature-enacted Wales Padlock Law (1927) that made it illegal for theaters to show plays that featured gay and lesbian characters through 1967, some productions managed to get around this restriction and some became stage classics.

This talk highlights a fascinating history of Broadway, and the theaters themselves, seen through the lens of the LGBT community, beginning in the early 20th century.