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Timeline of Lower Manhattan Gay History

Tracing the deep LGBT past of New York City's oldest neighborhood


1660    Twenty-four-year-old newlywed and New Amsterdam colony soldier Jan Guisthout van der Linden is tied in a sack and drowned in the harbor for sodomizing his manservant, who is also summarily whipped for his involvement.

1701    Edward Hyde (Lord Cornbury), nephew of Britain's Queen Anne and a reputed cross-dresser, serves as governor of New York and New Jersey until 1708.

1842    Tabloid newspaper The Whip goes on a rampage against the city's "sodomites," naming names from among what was clearly a developed community around City Hall.

1846    The newly created NYPD dismisses Edward McCosker for "indecently feeling the privates" of another man while on duty near City Hall; it was his second manhandling offense in as many months.

1849    Sensationalist novel City Crimes is printed, mentioning City Hall Park as a center of male prostitution; meanwhile Herman Melville's Redburn is published, wherein a character remembers men "standing in sentimental attitudes" in front of nearby Palmo's Opera House (39-41 Chambers St.).

1939    In advance of the World's Fair, Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia orders a citywide shakedown of known gay and lesbian haunts.

1951    Chief City Magistrate John Murtagh announces a drive to subject "perverts" to more severe penalties.

1962    Public radio station WBAI broadcasts the groundbreaking Live and Let Live, featuring eight gay men in their 20s frankly discussing homosexuality; local media goes wild.

1978    Mayor Ed Koch prohibits sexual orientation discrimination within city government.

1986    A decade and a half after having been introduced, a bill barring sexual orientation discrimination is passed by the New York City Council.

1987    In response to what he sees as the political impotency of Gay Men's Health Crisis (which he had also cofounded), Larry Kramer founds ACT UP (AIDS Coalition To Unleash Power), which within weeks stages its first public action when 250 members block rush hour traffic on Wall Street at Broadway; 17 are arrested.

1990    Queer Nation is formed in protest of continued antigay prejudice, and as its first action, members descend on straight bar Flutie's (Pier 17, South Street Seaport) to prove that queers will no longer restrict displays of mutual affection to gay-only establishments.

2001   At least 24 openly gay people die in the September 11 attacks, including the Catholic Chaplain of the New York Fire Department, Father Mychal Judge, who is killed while ministering to a fallen firefighter at the World Trade Center.


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