overview

Many New York City public schools are named in honor of prominent figures in American and world history.

Lorraine Hansberry Public School 118, in Queens, inadvertently honors an LGBT individual.

Header Photo
Credit: Google Maps.

History

Many New York City public schools are named in honor of prominent figures in American and world history. The NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project compiled a list of the 25 public schools named after gay men, lesbians, and bisexuals, although only one — Harvey Milk High School — intentionally honors an LGBT individual. This list includes Lorraine Hansberry Public School 118, in Queens, which opened in 1927 and was likely renamed for Hansberry in 1965.

African-American playwright and activist Lorraine Hansberry (1930-1965) moved to New York City in 1950. In 1956, she began what would become her best-known work: a dramatic play about a Black family in her native, segregated Chicago, called A Raisin in the Sun. Its New York premiere in 1959 made Hansberry the first Black woman to have a play staged on Broadway. Even before the play’s success, she privately identified as a lesbian and wrote letters, under a pseudonym, to The Ladder, the monthly national publication of the Daughters of Bilitis, the nation’s first lesbian organization.

Sites on this website associated with Hansberry include her Bleecker Street residence and Waverly Place residence in Greenwich Village and the Ethel Barrymore Theater in the Broadway Theater District.

Building Information

  • Architect or Builder: William H. Gompert
  • Year Built: 1925-27; 1932 (addition)

Sources

  1. Elise Harris, “The Double Life of Lorraine Hansberry,” Out, September 1999, pp. 96-101, 174-175.

  2. Imani Perry, Looking for Lorraine: The Radiant and Radical Life of Lorraine Hansberry (Boston: Beacon Press, 2018).

  3. James Baldwin, “Sweet Lorraine,” (1969) in Lorraine Hansberry in Her Own Words: To Be Young, Gifted and Black, adapted by Robert Nemiroff (New York: Vintage Books, 1995), xviii.

  4. Kevin Mumford, “Opening the Restricted Box: Lorraine Hansberry’s Lesbian Writing,” OutHistory, bit.ly/2pclVHA.

  5. Melissa Anderson, “Lorraine Hansberry’s Letters Reveal the Playwright’s Private Struggle,” February 26, 2014, The Village Voice, bit.ly/2pc2QWb.

  6. Shawn(ta) Smith-Cruz, “Opening Remarks to Outing Lorraine at the Schomburg Center,” CUNY Academic Works, City University of New York, 2014.

  7. Trish Bendix, “Lorraine Hansberry’s Secret Lesbian Herstory Touched Upon in New Documentary,” Into, January 18, 2018, bit.ly/2tNhvMl.

Do you have more information about this site?

This project is enriched by your participation! Do you have your own images of this site? Or a story to share? Would you like to suggest a different historic site?

Curated Themes

25 Sites

LGBT-Named Public Schools

Other Sites in the Neighborhood

63-14 Roosevelt Avenue
Bum Bum Bar
Bars, Clubs & Restaurants
77th Street & Broadway
Guillermo Vasquez Corner
Public Spaces
1 Tennis Place
West Side Tennis Club
Performance Venues