overview

This curated collection focuses on the former residences of influential “in the life” African-American writers, performers, and activists, most of whom were associated with Harlem, a neighborhood that has been home to a significant portion of the Black LGBT community since the 1920s.

These individuals spent all or part of their lives working during a racially segregated and homophobic era; through their writing, activism, and/or public speaking, they were actively involved in the civil rights and LGBT rights movements.

We are in the process of adding more sites related to African Americans and other communities of color (such as Latino and Asian American) and would like to hear from you if you have suggestions.

Header Photo
At a September 18, 1963, New York City press conference, civil rights activist Bayard Rustin and activist and author James Baldwin call on President John F. Kennedy to intervene in Alabama Governor George Wallace’s handling of protests that were held after the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham killed four Black girls. They hold an arm band to be worn at an NYC rally on September 22. Photo by the Associated Press.

Featured Historic Sites ( 11 )

A
437 East 12th Street

Ernestine Eckstein was an influential lesbian of color who was active in the LGBT rights movement in the pre-Stonewall years. While living in this tenement building, from 1964 until 1968,... Learn More

B
580 St. Nicholas Avenue

Legendary Black performer Ethel Waters lived in this apartment building from at least 1925 to 1927, when she was well known in Harlem’s lesbian circles. During this time, an important... Learn More

C
315 Convent Avenue

Jazz great Billy Strayhorn lived here with his partner, jazz pianist Aaron Bridgers, from 1939 to 1948, though Strayhorn stayed until 1950. During these years, the openly gay Strayhorn forged... Learn More

D
639 East 169th Street

Mabel Hampton was an African-American performer during the Harlem Renaissance and, in the 1970s and ‘80s, a key member of the Lesbian Herstory Archives. An icon of the New York... Learn More

E
20 East 127th Street

Langston Hughes, celebrated poet and leading figure of the Harlem Renaissance, lived on the top floor of this Harlem rowhouse from 1947 to 1967. While here, Hughes wrote many notable... Learn More

F
337 Bleecker Street

From 1953 to 1960, playwright and activist Lorraine Hansberry resided in the third-floor apartment of this building. While here, Hansberry lived parallel lives: one as the celebrated playwright of A Raisin... Learn More

G
112 Waverly Place

In 1960, playwright Lorraine Hansberry bought this building with money earned from her award-winning play, A Raisin in the Sun (1959). Remaining active in the civil rights movement, Hansberry began a relationship... Learn More

H
Building 7, Penn South

Bayard Rustin, one of the most important yet little-known figures of the Black civil rights movement, lived in an apartment in this Chelsea building complex from 1962 to 1987 (his... Learn More

I
81 Horatio Street

From 1958 to 1961, author and civil rights activist James Baldwin rented an apartment in this building, where he continued work on his third novel, Another Country (1962), which included bisexual characters.... Learn More

J
137 West 71st Street

Literary icon and civil rights activist James Baldwin used this Upper West Side remodeled rowhouse as his New York City residence from 1965 until his death in 1987. Although he... Learn More

K
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

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

17 Sites

1970s Lesbian Activism & Community

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

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