overview

Lesbian rights activists in New York City worked to gain a voice, equal rights, and recognition within the Gay Liberation and Women’s Liberation movements, which emerged almost simultaneously in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

In addition to several of their own residences where they could socialize with other lesbians or strategize a protest, they founded important bookshops, restaurants, archives, and other communal women-only spaces where they could share and be exposed to lesbian-based art and culture.

This curated theme focuses on historic sites associated with lesbian activism and community in the 1970s, with many of those spaces continuing that association into the following decades. Also included is the NYC Dyke March, which, while started in the 1990s, connects back to the early days of organized lesbian-focused activism.

Header Photo
(l to r) Judy Reif, Fran Winant, and Martha Shelley stand defiant at Second Congress to Unite Women, May 1, 1970. Photo by Diana Davies. Courtesy of Manuscript and Archives Division, The New York Public Library.

Featured Historic Sites ( 17 )

A
45 Belmont Place

The Jamaican-born author Michelle Cliff was living in this two-family house when she graduated from nearby Curtis High School in 1965. In later years, when she became a prominent writer,... Learn More

B
sour421 5th Avenue

Brooklyn Women’s Martial Arts (BWMA), renamed the Center for Anti-Violence Education in 1990, was founded in 1974 to teach self-defense skills and karate to women and girls (including lesbians and... Learn More

C
154 West 10th Street

Named after pioneering lesbian fiction author Djuna Barnes, Djuna Books was a feminist bookstore in Greenwich Village from 1977 to 1982. The store, part of a wave of women-owned bookstores... Learn More

D
338 East 6th Street

From about 1967 to 1971, activists and then-partners Ellen Broidy and Linda Rhodes rented a fifth floor apartment at 338 East 6th Street. Fellow activist Rita Mae Brown rented the... Learn More

E
215 West 92nd Street

From 1974 to 2002, apartment 13A in this Upper West Side building was the residence of Joan Nestle, an influential lesbian activist and co-founder of the Lesbian Herstory Archives. A... Learn More

F
149 West 14th Street

Kooky’s, also known as Kooky’s Cocktail Lounge, was a lesbian bar that operated from 1965 to 1973. After the Stonewall uprising of June 1969, Kooky’s was the site of lesbian-led... Learn More

G
331 Flatbush Avenue

Open from 1980 to early 1983, La Papaya was a lesbian-owned vegetarian restaurant and the only feminist restaurant in New York City at this time. La Papaya featured Brooklyn’s sole... Learn More

H
33 Barrow Street

Labyris, where the “The Future is Female” slogan was coined, was the first feminist bookstore in New York City. Owned and operated by lesbians from 1972 to 1977, this bookstore... Learn More

I
333 West 17th Street

“Lavender Menace” was an action led by Radicalesbians, with women from the Gay Liberation Front and several feminist organizations, at the National Organization of Women’s (NOW) Second Congress to Unite... Learn More

J
484 14th Street

Founded in 1974, the Lesbian Herstory Archives was first housed on the Upper West Side of Manhattan before opening its current Park Slope, Brooklyn, location in 1993. The volunteer-based Archives,... Learn More

K
342 West 11th Street

Mother Courage was the first feminist restaurant in the United States. Owned and operated by Dolores Alexander and Jill Ward from 1972 to 1977, this restaurant primarily attracted lesbian and... Learn More

L
Bryant Park

First organized by the Lesbian Avengers in 1993, the NYC Dyke March is an annual march from Bryant Park to Washington Square for self-identified dykes who advocate for increased lesbian... Learn More

M
201 West 92nd Street

Open from 1975 to 1987, Womanbooks was the second feminist bookstore in New York City. It sold books written, published, and printed by women, many of which could not be... Learn More

N
54 Seventh Avenue South

Open from 1974 to 1978 in Greenwich Village, the Women’s Coffeehouse was a popular and important social gathering and activist space for New York-based lesbians. This lesbian-owned coffeehouse held live... Learn More

O
243 West 20th Street

In the early 1970s, the Women’s Liberation Center was founded as an important meeting space for many women’s groups, including those that specifically served the lesbian community. The Center operated... Learn More

P
207 St. Paul's Avenue

Acclaimed Black lesbian feminist, writer, and activist Audre Lorde lived here with her partner and two children from 1972 to 1987. While here, Lorde was a prolific writer who authored... Learn More

Q
200 Central Park West

The American Museum of Natural History has been affiliated with numerous LGBT individuals, including Margaret Mead, Colin Turnbull and Joseph Tulles, Alexander von Humboldt, and Frederica Leser. In 1973, as... Learn More

Other Curated Themes

7 Sites

Transgender History

25 Sites

Gay-Owned Businesses

17 Sites

Communities of Color

24 Sites

Activism Outside Manhattan

18 Sites

Literary New York

13 Sites

Downtown Arts Scene

21 Sites

City of Immigrants

7 Sites

The Bronx

8 Sites

Brooklyn Heights

7 Sites

Jackson Heights

12 Sites

Staten Island

10 Sites

Why We March

15 Sites

Village Pride Tour

20 Sites

Gay Activists Alliance

13 Sites

The Harlem Renaissance

12 Sites

Jewish New York

18 Sites

Pre-20th Century History

23 Sites

Bars & Nightlife

13 Sites

Activism Before Stonewall

22 Sites

Homophobia & Transphobia

43 Sites

Broadway Theater District

11 Sites

Influential Black New Yorkers

13 Sites

Early Community Centers

13 Sites

Lesbian Life Before Stonewall

11 Sites

The AIDS Crisis

25 Sites

LGBT-Named Public Schools

15 Sites

Art & Architecture

10 Sites

National Register Listings

21 Sites

Spotlight on the Theater