A witness to history: Looking back at the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising in NYC
By: John Newton
This story was originally published on AFAR | May 30, 2019
Across New York City, various institutions are commemorating the June anniversary of the Stonewall Riots with a slew of captivating events. Here's where to observe the city's LGBTQ history throughout the month.
This June, New York City looks back on the Stonewall Uprising in 1969 — a pivotal moment in LGBTQ history both in New York and around the world. Exactly 50 years following the riots, which gave birth to the first-ever Pride March held during 1970 in New York City's Greenwich Village (and inspired other ongoing Pride observances around the world), the city also becomes the first in the United States to host WorldPride. This month-long celebration brings a packed schedule of special LGBTQ-themed events to one host city every few years.
Beyond attending the free Stonewall 50 Commemoration Rally on June 28 (held from 6 to 9 p.m. on Christopher Street and Waverly Place), celebrating at the NYC Pride March on June 30 (starting on 26th Street and Fifth Avenue at 12 p.m.), and checking out the WorldPride Mural Project (which brings colorful street art honoring the LBGTQ community to locations across all five boroughs this month), here's where to mark the 50th anniversary of Stonewall in New York City throughout June.
Observe LGBTQ history through an up-close lens
When the Stonewall Uprising began in New York City's Greenwich Village on June 28, 1969, photographer Fred W. McDarrah had a front-row seat on history and, fortunately for the historical record, he had a camera in hand.
As the first staff photographer of the Village Voice beginning in the 1950s, McDarrah chronicled life in New York City during one of its most vibrant cultural and political periods, from the rise of the Beatniks in the '50s to the formation of ACT UP, an advocacy organization founded in the '80s in response to the AIDS crisis. (McDarrah contributed to the alt-weekly until his passing in 2007.) McDarrah was not a member of the LGBTQ community himself, but 50 years ago on that fateful June night, he was truly in the right place at the right time, when just a few doors down from the Village Voice's office in Greenwich Village, a riot broke out at the Stonewall Inn, a local LGBTQ bar, following a police raid. Over the following week, daily protests for equal rights marked a radical turn in the liberation movement for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer people. Since then, McDarrah's photographs have become iconic images for what is often viewed as the symbolic birth of the contemporary fight for LGBTQ rights.
Young people gather outside the Stonewall Inn on the night of the riots, June 28, 1969. | Courtesy Fred W. McDarrah Archive/MUUS Asset Management Co LLC
For the Stonewall Riots anniversary, the Museum of the City of New York has gathered some 40 images by McDarrah — some of the uprising itself and others from 25 years of NYC Pride marches that followed — and presents them in the exhibit PRIDE: Photographs of Stonewall and Beyond, open June 6 through December 31. (It accompanies a larger exhibit, The Voice of the Village, which includes more than 100 photographs by McDarrah taken over the course of his career with a particular focus on civil rights and anti–Vietnam War demonstrations in New York City from the '60s through the '70s.)
While the Stonewall Uprising was an expression of defiant resistance, for exhibit curator Sarah Seidman, it is the full range of emotions that McDarrah captured in his subjects that makes his photographs so powerful. "His Pride parade images show people marching with signs, but also the exuberance and celebratory nature of the events," Seidman says. "He captured both the political agenda as well as the celebration of identity and community."
STAR (Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries) march during the fourth annual Christopher Street Liberation Day March (also known as the NYC Pride March) on June 24, 1973. | Courtesy Fred W. McDarrah Archive/MUUS Asset Management Co LLC
More must-see Stonewall 50 art exhibits in New York City
After seeing PRIDE: Photographs of Stonewall and Beyond, dive deeper into New York's LGBTQ history at these various exhibitions across the city.
Open through July 13 in the main branch of the New York Public Library at Bryant Park, a free exhibition titled Love & Resistance: Stonewall 50 features the work of leading photojournalists from the gay liberation movement (including Kay Tobin Lahusen, the first out lesbian photojournalist) alongside posters, pamphlets, and other materials from the library's archives.
Look Back/Move Forward is New York University's contribution to the celebration: a crowded calendar of movie screenings, speakers, and exhibits that reflect on Stonewall as a turning point for the LGBTQ movement. Notable among the lineup is Art after Stonewall, 1969-1989, an extensive exhibition on view in two parts (one section at NYU's Grey Art Gallery through July 20, the other at the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art through July 21).
Protestors march at a 1970 NYC Pride Rally. (Image by Diana Davies, one of the leading photojournalists who documented the LGBTQ liberation movement during the '60s and '70s.) | Courtesy of New York Public Library, Manuscripts and Archives Division
From June 5 to 29, the Soho Photo Gallery in downtown Manhattan will host Photography After Stonewall, highlighting the work of 23 living LGBTQ artists whose images demonstrate how the Stonewall Uprising, according to exhibit's curators, "made possible a type of imagery that earlier generations had to suppress." Also throughout the month of June, The James New York—NoMad, near Madison Square Park, will display a Stonewall art exhibit in its lobby. The ICONSshowcase will spotlight unique printed posters featuring "faces and places" of significance in New York City's LGBTQ history, as well as recommendations for spots to visit across the city that are connected to the themes in each poster.
The New-York Historical Society recently opened two Stonewall 50 exhibitions: one on LGBTQ nightlife before and after Stonewall and another highlighting the contributions of lesbians and queer women to the LGBTQ movement. The display, open through September 22, includes a special installation that looks at NYC Pride marches from the 1960s to the present day.
Until December 8 at the Brooklyn Museum, an exhibition titled Nobody Promised You Tomorrow: Art 50 Years After Stonewall presents the works of 28 LGBTQ artists born after 1969; the show draws its title from the words of a prominent figure of the 1969 uprising, transgender artist and activist Marsha P. Johnson.
A walk through LGBTQ history in the West Village
Many sites that were central to LGBTQ life in New York City in 1969 no longer stand, and in the decades since then the community has become more dispersed. Restaurants and bars catering to the LGBTQ community can be found especially in Chelsea, Hell's Kitchen, and neighborhoods in Brooklyn, including Park Slope and Williamsburg. Still, the West Village is where the LGBTQ movement as we know it today began. Here are three of its historic highlights.
The Stonewall Inn is a remarkable survivor. Drinking a beer or waiting your turn at the pool table, you might not realize you are visiting a historic site: the country's first National Monument dedicated to the LGBTQ-rights movement. (That is, unless you happen to visit on a day when it is hosting a political event or rally, which does happen with some frequency.) Near the entrance, an original, framed police poster declaring that "This is a Raided Premises" is a reminder of the summer evening in 1969 that would change the course of LGBTQ history around the world. The Christopher Street establishment is open daily from 12 p.m. to 4 a.m.
While other streets in Manhattan had periods as the centers of an underground gay life, after Stonewall, Christopher Street became famous nationally as the heart of the city's gay and lesbian community. Even as the LGBTQ community has become more spread out across New York City over the years, gay-owned bars and restaurants such as Ty's NYC and Pieces still line this street west of Sixth Avenue — and they are busy almost every evening. A new guided walking tour with Urban Adventures focuses on LGBTQ history in Greenwich Village and includes stops at many significant Christopher Street landmarks and establishments during the three-hour trip. From $79 per person (ages 21 and older)
The Center — or, more formally, the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Community Center — was established in 1984 and truly lives up to its name: Some 400 different events take place at this building on 13th Street each week, including readings, talks, and political meetings. Even if you aren't attending an event, you may want to make your way to the second-floor men's room, which is covered in murals by Keith Haring; they were completed in 1989, shortly before the artist's death. It's an exuberant, and graphic, celebration of gay male sexuality (a far cry from some of the tamer images associated with the artist's Pop Shop).
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Eric Rubens (@erubes1) is a MileagePlus member based in Southern California. He is a photographer/videographer who loves meeting new people and traveling the world.
When planning a vacation, one of the first steps is picking a theme. If you're in search of mountains, many look to the Rockies, Swiss Alps, or Dolomites. If a tropical vacation is desired, Hawaii, Mexico, or the Caribbean may be calling your name. There are so many beautiful destinations in this world, but is it possible for one of them to be blessed with incredible mountains, picturesque beaches, and some of the best wildlife viewing in the world?
Cape Town is one of the few places I've found that seems to have it all. With the iconic Table Mountain and Lion's Head rising out of the city, there are hikes leading up to majestic views down the African coastline. The beaches of Clifton and Camps Bay are some of the most incredible beaches on this planet. If wildlife peaks your interest, there's Boulder's Beach, home to one of the only land-based penguin colonies in the world. Did I mention the safari is a short trip away? Add in an exchange rate that is very favorable and you have all the makings of a trip you'll never forget.
Camps Bay Beach
Planning a trip to Africa for the first time can be both intimidating and a bit challenging. I found very few of my friends or family had been, which made my voyage to South Africa even more exciting. Cape Town is home to a hip urban scene, a vibrant melting pot of culture, and jaw dropping landscapes that'll make you wonder why you didn't visit sooner. There's no city quite like it, and this list of top things to do will make sure you maximize your time in the Mother City. Several theories exist regarding the origin of Cape Town's nickname as "The Mother City." Some say it can be traced back to the beginning of the city's history as a trading hub in the 17th century, or its status as South Africa's first metropolis. But many locals have their own theories – one running joke is that it takes nine months to get anything done in the very laid back city.
View from the top of Table Mountain
#1: Take a hike or tram up to the top of Table Mountain
This iconic mountain rising from the city is arguably home to Cape Town's best views. The 2 to 3-hour hike to the top makes for a fun activity if you're up for it. Otherwise, take in the view from the aerial cableway, complete with 360-degree rotating floor and running every 5 minutes from the base. Once up top, there's plenty of walking trails, souvenir shopping, and food and drinks. Table Mountain is known for the blanket of fog that rolls over the peak, so weather at the top can change quickly. Make sure to check the weather before heading up and bring a jacket, since the wind can be intense!
Penguins at Boulder Beach
#2: Visit the penguin colony at Boulder's Beach
Even though it's an hour or so drive from the city, visiting Boulder's Beach and its nearly 2,000 penguins is an unforgettable experience. Watching the penguins lounge on the beach and come in and out of the waves makes for some incredible pictures and a unique encounter. You can also swim in the nearby waters and will often come face to face with members of the colony.
#3: Wake up for a sunrise hike up Lion's Head
One of the most bucket list-worthy activities on a visit to Cape Town is catching sunrise atop Lion's Head. It's a challenging hike and not for those with a fear of heights, but you won't soon forget the view from the summit. If you're willing to scramble and make your way up the final ladders, 360-degree views of the city await, and the sunrise over the city is one for the ages.
#4: Explore the Cape Winelands and the beauty of Constantia
South Africa has some of the best vineyards in the world. Even though the towns of Franschooek and Stellenbosch get the majority of the press, nearby Constantia is home to the oldest wine estate in the country, Groot Constantia. Its proximity (just 15 minutes from the city center) makes it perfect for a day trip. The city sightseeing "Hop-On Hop-Off" bus tour has a purple line that connects through this region, so getting here is easy! If wine tasting isn't your thing, the Alphen Trail is a beautiful trek through the countryside and sure to put you in a relaxing mood.
Chapman's Peak Drive
#5: Take a road trip down Chapman's Peak Drive
One of the most beautiful drives awaits just south of Cape Town. Carved into the cliffs and winding along the ocean, this road between Hout Bay and Noordhoek offers majestic views of the coastline. Just make sure to keep your eyes on the road since the sheer beauty can be distracting!
#6: View the diversity of flora throughout Kirstenbosch Gardens
The flora and fauna of South Africa is some of the most diverse in the world, and no place showcases it better than Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. Tucked along the slopes of Table Mountain and widely recognized as one of the most impressive gardens in the world, Kirstenbosch is home to over 7,000 species of plants. The newly completed Centenary Tree Canopy Walkway allows you to walk above the tree line. If you visit in summer, try to make one of the Sunday concerts in the gardens, which are a hit with locals and visitors.
V & A Waterfront
#7: Shop your heart out along the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront
Known as one of the biggest tourism hubs of the city, the always bustling V&A Waterfront is home to many of Cape Town's finest restaurants, shopping, and the launching point of many tours. There are countless ways to spend your time here, but make sure to stop by the V&A food market, where over 40 vendors sell gourmet street food from around the world.
#8: Make your way to the Southern tip of Africa
If you're up for an adventure, take a trip to The Cape of Good Hope. You'll most likely encounter penguins, baboons, and who knows what else along the 1.5-hour drive. The weather can be very unpredictable, so make sure to check it before making the trip south. While there, visit the lighthouse and if you're hungry grab a bite at the appropriately named Two Oceans Restaurant.
#9 Take a tour of historical Robben Island
Even though the prison has been shut down since 1996, a visit to this UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of Cape Town's most popular tours. Tours take around 4 hours including a ferry ride to the island famous for housing Nelson Mandela for 18 of the 27 years he was imprisoned.
-Use the "hop on hop off" bus for an easy guided tour of the city. The route takes you to many of the best spots throughout Cape Town and allows you to explore at your own pace. Buy tickets ahead of time to save on fare!
-Cape Town has some incredible boutique hotels and bed & breakfasts. My favorites are: Tintswalo Atlantic, 52 De Wet Luxury Boutique Hotel, and Derwent House Boutique Hotel.
-Make sure you don't carry too many valuables on you if you're walking around at night. Although beautiful and mostly safe, there is still a good amount of opportunistic crime throughout the city. Always pay attention to your surroundings.
Opinions expressed by the author are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of United.
Planning a Caribbean vacation around hurricane season isn't necessary if you head to Dutch-affiliated Curaçao. The southernmost of all Caribbean islands — just off Venezuela's coast — is rarely even grazed by hurricanes. It also has an ideal tropical climate with average winter highs in the 80s (and water temperatures to match) and only about one inch of rain a month.
Curaçao will be more accessible beginning December 7, 2019, when weekly nonstops begin from New York/Newark on United Airlines. The new seasonal service on 737-700 aircraft makes Curaçao the 21st Caribbean island destination for United, which already flies to the other two nearby "ABC islands" — Aruba and Bonaire. Why choose Curaçao? Because like the island's famous blue liqueur, it's colorful, exotic and appealing.
Jet lag won't be an issue for Americans flying to Curaçao because it's in the same time zone as New York. Nor is it a long flight — about five hours nonstop from New York/Newark. Upon arrival you can take a taxi, rental car or hotel shuttle from Curaçao International Airport to your accommodations — a resort (reserve early), boutique inn, vacation house or B&B. Most are in Willemstad, a coastal city only five miles from the airport.
Forts above the port
Straat Curaçao Getty Images/iStockphoto
The historic city center and harbor areas of Curaçao's only city of Willemstad are designated as a UNESCO Heritage Site, mostly for the 17th to 19th century Dutch colonial architecture of the houses and forts. The houses are painted a rainbow of bright colors in the Caribbean tradition, and the city is packed with forts — Fort Amsterdam (built in 1636), Fort Beekenburg (1703), Fort Nassau (1797) and Fort Waakzaamheid (1803). All four offer stellar views and are free to visitors.
On the waterfront
Curacao colorful houses Getty Images/iStockphoto
Along with forts, the harbor area is home to the oldest continuously operating synagogue (and museum) in the Western Hemisphere, an African art museum that tells the story of the slave trade through West African art and artifacts, and a maritime museum. These visits can be followed by a tour and tasting at the Curaçao Distillery, where you'll see how the peels of the native Laraha bitter oranges are turned into curaçao liqueur.
Snorkel from the sand
Two people snorkeling off coast of tropical island Getty Images
The chief allure of this 38-mile-long island is, of course, the ocean. Besides sunbathing at any of the dozens of powder-sand cove beaches, you can wade right in and snorkel in the turquoise, bathlike sea, usually around 80 degrees. Visibility is up to 100 feet, a snorkeler's dream. More adventurous types can snorkel or dive from day boats that head to prime diving sites like the Mushroom Forest (mushroom-shaped coral), Blue Cave and several shipwreck spots. There's also a nice aquarium on the shoreline where marine life is seen up close in their natural habitat —from land or aboard a minisub that dives 1,000 feet.
Curaçao is a convenient tropical destination for Americans because U.S. dollars and credit cards are commonly accepted, English is widely spoken and no visa is required. But the local culture and cuisine are still exotic enough to be intriguing with local specialties like stewed iguana and cactus soup served in restaurants and from food carts in Willemstad.
If you go
One of our most treasured events of the year is here – Fantasy Flights! Our Fantasy Flights bring holiday cheer to children in need by taking them on a special trip to the "North Pole." Each station creates a North Pole with care, in preparation for all the children who will soon be there…
Our participating stations this year are HNL (Honolulu), FRA (Frankfurt), CLE (Cleveland), DEN (Denver), IAD (Washington Dulles), LAX (Los Angeles), SFO (San Francisco), MCO (Orlando), ORD (Chicago O'Hare), GUM (Guam), EWR (New York/New Jersey), NRT (Tokyo-Narita), PHX (Phoenix), IAH (Houston), MCI (Kansas City) and SAT (San Antonio).
Please stay tuned for stories, photos and more from these magical events. #UAFantasyFlights