Bucolic Green-Wood Cemetery, founded in 1832, is the final resting place of many members of the LGBT community. Well-known figures include:
Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990), a prominent composer for symphony orchestras, Broadway musicals, such as West Side Story and On the Town, and films, including On the Waterfront, and one of the most important and charismatic conductors of the 20th century, notably at the New York Philharmonic. Bernstein lived at the Osborne and Dakota Apartments.
Elizabeth Cushier (1837-1931), a leading 19th-century obstetrician and surgeon at the New York Infirmary for Women and Children and a professor of medicine at its Women’s Medical College, which were both co-founded by her partner Emily Blackwell (1821-1910), an eminent English-born physician who was the first woman to earn a medical degree in the United States. The couple lived together in New York City from 1882 to c. 1900 and were together 28 years until Blackwell’s death in 1910. Blackwell’s ashes were buried in the graveyard of St. Munn’s Parish Church in Scotland.
Fred Ebb (1928-2004), a musical theater lyricist who, as part of the team of Kander and Ebb, wrote the lyrics for such musicals as Cabaret and Chicago. He is interred in a mausoleum with Edwin Aldridge and Martin Cohen.
Louis Moreau Gottschalk (1829-1869), a composer and pianist who was a virtuoso performer of his own music. After the Angel of the Music statue at his grave site was vandalized in 1959, Green-Wood Cemetery raised funds over a nearly 15-year period to create a new version, which was unveiled in 2012.
Augustus Graham (born Richard King; 1776-1851) and John Bell Graham (born John Bell; ?-1853), important figures in early 19th century Brooklyn, were buried here, though not together. After Augustus left his wife and children, he and John adopted the last name Graham, moved in together, and posed as brothers. There was speculation at the time, and in the years that followed, that these clues indicated a same-sex relationship. Augustus founded the Apprentices’ Library in Brooklyn Heights in 1824, which later became the Brooklyn Institute and finally the Brooklyn Museum of Art. In 1851, John founded the Brooklyn Society for the Relief of Respectable Aged, Indigent Females, which later became the Graham Home for Old Ladies (it was converted to condos in 2001).
Dr. Emery S. Hetrick (1931-1987) and Dr. A. Damien Martin (1933-1991), founders of the Institute for the Protection of Lesbian and Gay Youth (later renamed the Hetrick-Martin Institute) and Harvey Milk High School. Their gravestone includes the inscription, “Death ends a life, not a relationship”.
Richard Isay (1934-2012), a psychiatrist, psychoanalyst, author, and LGBT rights activist. He spearheaded a campaign resulting in the changes to the homophobic policies of the American Psychoanalytic Association (APsaA) in 1991 and was also the organization’s first openly gay member. The “Loving Husbands” inscription on his gravestone is believed to be the first, and possibly only, such example at Green-Wood that explicitly commemorates a same-sex union.
Paul Jabara (1948-1992), a Lebanese-American singer/songwriter and actor who wrote songs for such artists as Donna Summers (including her hit Last Dance) and Barbra Streisand. He also co-wrote and co-composed the hit song It’s Raining Men for the Weather Girls. As a performer, Jabara was part of the original casts of Hair and Jesus Christ Superstar. He died of AIDS, age 44, in Los Angeles.
Violet Oakley (1874-1961), a renowned illustrator and muralist and the first American woman to receive a public mural commission, which was for the Pennsylvania State Capitol in Harrisburg. She excelled in a field dominated at the time by men. Her gravestone includes the inscription, “Death cannot kill what never dies”.
Emma Stebbins (1815-1882), a sculptor best known for her Angel of the Waters masterpiece that sits atop the Bethesda Fountain in Central Park, which she created in Rome in the 1860s while living with her lover, actress Charlotte Cushman. The sculpture was the first piece of public artwork by a woman in New York City. Her gravestone includes the inscription, “Love is the fulfilling of the law”.
There are many other members of the LGBT community buried at Green-Wood. If you know of anyone, please let us know so that we can remember them here.