Illegal to Be You: Gay History Beyond Stonewall
This website is based on an exhibition that opened at the National Museum of American History in June 2019. Objects pictured here may differ from those currently on view at the museum.
There is no unified gay history in America and no one way to be gay. The only thing that all gay people have shared across time are the risks and rewards in being themselves. Gay history is familiar, surprising, heartbreaking, empowering, and fabulous—all at the same time.
The June 1969 uprising against police harassment at The Stonewall Inn, a bar in Lower Manhattan, is probably the most famous moment in U.S. LGBTQ+ history. Fifty years later, the histories of the drag queens, students, homeless youth, and others who were there can be placed within a larger and longer experience of being different.
Christopher Street March
Christopher Street, the location of The Stonewall Inn, ran through the heart of New York City’s gay neighborhood.
Gift of Mark Segal