Stonewall set to host visitor center with tours, history and art exhibits

More than 50 years after the Stonewall riots reshaped LGBTQ+ activism in the United States, the place where it all started is opening a drop-in center, set to open this month, in the hope he will never be forgotten.

On June 24, LGBTQ+ advocacy group Pride Live will unveil the new Stonewall Visitors Center, the National Parks Service’s first specifically LGBTQ+-oriented visitor center, according to a press release from the organization. The center will be located at 51 Christopher Street in New York City, reuniting it with the Stonewall Bar next door reopened for the first time since the original location closed in 1969. The groundbreaking ceremony is scheduled to begin at 10:30 a.m. ET , and will be streamed live on the Pride Live YouTube page.

“At this location, a group of energetic people created a movement for equality that continues to this day,” National Park Service Director Chuck Sams said in a statement. “The Welcome Center and its exhibits will celebrate and recognize LGBTQ+ achievements and serve as a place for people to experience and connect with the LGBTQ+ community’s ongoing struggle for civil liberties.” Ann Marie Gothard, Chair of the Board of Pride Live, confirmed, saying she believes the center will “commemorate [the rioters’] important legacy in the gay rights movement and we hope it will inspire future generations to continue to fight for LGTBQ+ equality.

In 2016, then-President Barack Obama designated the area formerly known as Christopher Park and its surrounding area as Stonewall National Monument, the first official national monument in LGBTQ+ history. Now, in addition to serving as a base for park rangers, the visitor center will offer “in-person and virtual tours, lecture series, exhibits and visual arts displays,” according to PrideLive.

Of course, what sours the taste is the same thing that spoils most Pride Month initiatives: corporate sponsorship. PrideLive and the center itself come with a litany of sponsors who have donated tens of thousands of dollars to Republican committees and candidates in the past year alone. Major sponsors Google Inc. and JPMorgan Chase each donated $60,000 to GOP national funds, according to watchdog group OpenSecrets. Other sponsors include Amazon, which donated more than $30,000 to Republican Congressional funds, and the NFL, which donated $60,000 in addition to direct support for anti-LGBTQ+ politicians, including Marco Rubio, Mitch McConnell and Steve Scalise.

If you want to follow the latest developments, you can follow this new center at @StonewallVisCtr on Instagram, TwitterFacebook and Tik Tok, or follow the hashtag #MeetUsAtTheMonument.

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William E. Bennett