queer activism

New York City was a center of queer activism in the 1990s. AIDS activists and ACT UP members formed Queer Nation in March 1990 in response to increased violence against LGBT people on the streets of New York. They marched in protests of attacks, and staged “kiss-ins” at straight bars and nightclubs to increase LGBT visibility. Members of Queer Nation formed the Pink Panthers Patrol to combat homophobic violence; the neighborhood watch group conducted patrols in the East and West Villages.

The Lesbian Avengers formed in New York in 1992 with the goal of promoting lesbian visibility, in part through dramatic street theater including fire eating, which the Avengers first practiced in response to the deaths of a lesbian and gay man who were burnt to death after a Molotov cocktail was thrown into their apartment. To counter lesbian invisibility within the LGBT community, the Avengers organized the first Dyke March at the April 1993 March on Washington for Lesbian, Gay and Bi Equal Rights and Liberation, with 20,000 women joining in.

In June 1993, the Lesbian Avengers organized a New York City Dyke March the day before New York’s Pride March; the Dyke March has become an annual event. The Lesbian Avengers also demonstrated in support of the inclusion of information about lesbian and gay lives in the “Children of the Rainbow” curriculum for elementary public schools, confronting opponents of the curriculum with lesbian love songs and t-shirts reading “I was a lesbian child.”

Culture Photo

Manhattan, 1993
The Lesbian Avengers, a direct-action group dedicated to increasing lesbian visibility, organized the first Dyke March from 5th Avenue from Bryant to Washington Park. The march became an annual event.

Carolina Kroon

Culture Photo

Manhattan, 1992
Queer Nation demonstration against homophobia.

Ricky Flores

Culture Photo

Manhattan, 1992
An onlooker confronts activists at a Queer Nation demonstration against homophobia.

Ricky Flores

Culture Photo

Manhattan, June 28, 1998
Members of the Lesbian Avengers march at the 29th annual Gay Pride Parade.

Les Stone

Culture Photo

Manhattan
Members of Queer Nation protest violence against LGBTQ people.

TL Litt

Culture Photo

Manhattan, 1993
Two women kiss on a bed being rolled by activists along 5th Avenue at the first Dyke March.

Carolina Kroon

Racism Photo

Manhattan
Members of the Pink Panthers Patrol march to protest violence against LGBTQ people.

TL Litt

Culture Photo

Manhattan, 1992
Anti-gay rights demonstration on 6th Avenue.

richard sandler

Culture Photo

Manhattan, 1989
At Wigstock, an annual Labor Day drag festival in Tompkins Square Park, police arrest a “skinhead” after he threw a bottle at a group of attendees and they chased him down the street.

tl litt

Culture Photo

Manhattan, July 1992
Gay rights advocates rally outside of the Democratic National Convention at Madison Square Garden.

Linda Rosier

Racism Photo

Staten Island, February 1990
Gay activists demonstrate against the murder of a gay man in Staten Island.

Thomas McGovern

Racism Photo

Manhattan, Jun 28, 1998
A gay couple with their son march at the 29th annual Gay Pride Parade.

Les Stone

Culture Photo

Manhattan, 1992
The Women's Action Coalition marches in support of lesbian rights in the 1992 Gay Pride Parade along 5th Avenue.

Lisa Kahane