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New York Public Library Launches Stonewall 50 Exhibit

Five decades after riots, display will shine light on LGBTQ history

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The New York Public Library has unveiled a new exhibition commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots.

Love & Resistance: Stonewall 50, which opened on February 14 at the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building and runs through July 14, is a free exhibition focusing on the moments before, during, and after the protests. The display pulls from a collection of historical LGBTQ materials and features related events drawing from LGBTQ history in the time period.

The exhibition is based on four key themes — resistance, bars, in print, and love — with each one dedicating much-needed attention to the LGBTQ community during the time period surrounding Stonewall.

“Resistance” includes posters and flyers from the 1970 Christopher Street Liberation Day march and is complemented by photographs of activists ranging from Marsha P. Johnson to Sylvia Rivera.

The second theme, “Bars,” takes a look at the LGBTQ nightlife scene when queer folks were routinely mistreated by police officers and fell victim to blackmail. This theme features flyers and invitations to clubs of the era including Duchess Bar, Mineshaft, Flaminga, and Paradise Garage.

The theme pertaining to “Items In Print” hones in on the magazines that served as a key source for the community. Transgender and drag communities enjoyed The Transexual Action Organization, Transvestia, and Drag Queens, while the city’s gay motorcyclists read Black and Blue, a newsletter from the 1960s. Lesbian magazines of the 1970s, such as Sinister Wisdom and Lesbian Tide, are also featured.

The “Love” section includes previously-hidden images of lesbian couples from the 1960s and intimate photos of drag parties.

Other posters, flyers, and documents from LGBTQ groups such as the Mattachine Society of New York, Gay Liberation Front, Radicalesbians, and Gay Activists Alliance are also prominently displayed.

The exhibit also highlights the works of Diana Davies and Kay Tobin Lahusen, a pair of photojournalists who played a key role in documenting some of the most important LGBTQ events of that era.

A series of events at the Stephen A. Schwarzman building are slated to take place in conjunction with the exhibit. “Art Talks: Love and Resistance: Out of the Closet & Into the Stonewall Era” will take place on March 6, while “Thinking Out Loud: The Past and Future of the Queer Press” will be held on March 6. An event on Tuesday, May 21 looks at the past and the future of the queer press, while the final event, scheduled for June 21, is an after-hours event for Pride. Details on the timing of those events are not yet available.

There will also be local events in various neighborhoods in Manhattan, the Bronx, and Staten Island. Find out more information about those events on the New York Public Library’s website.

Posted 5:10 pm, February 19, 2019
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