New York City museums and galleries are commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising with exhibitions focused on the pivotal moment in LGBTQ+ history and the gay rights movement that followed. Here are five shows that focus on queer and trans identity and the art born in the wake of the Stonewall Inn riots.
“Stonewall 50 at New-York Historical Society”
New-York Historical Society
On view through Sept. 22
The New-York Historical Society’s presentation charts the LGBTQ+ club scene and gay rights activism through two distinct exhibitions: “Letting Loose and Fighting Back: LGBTQ+. Nightlife Before and After Stonewall” and “By the Force of Our Presence: Highlights from the Lesbian Herstory Archives.” The two installations, housed on the museum’s second floor, bring together objects such as flyers, news clippings, Pride icon Rollerena’s roller skates, zines and more to chronicle life before and after the Stonewall riots.
“The Stonewall uprising on June 28-July 3, 1969, was a watershed moment in the gay rights movement,” said Louise Mirrer, president and CEO of New-York Historical, in an announcement. “The history of New York’s LGBTQ+ community is integral to a more general understanding of the long struggle for civil rights on the part of LGBTQ+ Americans.”
“Y’all Better Quiet Down”
On view through July 21
Transgender activist Sylvia Rivera provides the inspiration for a new exhibition at Leslie-Lohman Museum, titled “Y’all Better Quiet Down.” During a speech in Washington Square Park in 1973, Rivera challenged a crowd gathered for the Christopher Street Liberation Day Rally to widen their understanding of the gay liberation movement as an intersectional cause. “Y’all Better Quiet Down” centers on Rivera’s fervent call — which rang out over jeers — and features contemporary pieces alongside protest banners, archival material and more.
The show coincides with the museum’s major exhibition, “Art After Stonewall, 1969-1989,” which surveys the art of the LGBTQ+ liberation movement through a sprawling catalog of 200 works and related materials. Presented in partnership with Grey Art Gallery, “Art After Stonewall” is broken into seven sections: “Coming Out,” “Sexual Outlaws,” “The Uses of the Erotic,” “Gender and Body,” “Things Are Queer,” “AIDS and Activism” and “We’re Here.”
“‘Art After Stonewall’ resists systematic classifications or traditional notions of what is a work of art. Crucial queer cultural practices were created beyond the institutions of the art world,” curator Jonathan Weinberg said in a statement. “Cutting across disciplines and hierarchies of media and taste, this exhibition mixes performance, photographs, painting, sculpture, film clips, video and music with historic documents and images taken from magazines, newspapers and television.”
“Love & Resistance: Stonewall 50”
New York Public Library
On view through July 13
Photographers Kay “Tobin” Lahusen and Diana Davies, who documented social movements of the 1960s and 70s, are at the center of a sweeping exhibition at the New York Public Library called “Love & Resistance: Stonewall 50.” Comprising photographs and other artifacts from the gay rights movement, the exhibition aims at presenting an intimate look into both the everyday lives of those at the forefront of the movement and pivotal moments in resistance and community building.
“Nobody Promised You Tomorrow: Art 50 Years After Stonewall”
On view through Dec. 8
The Brooklyn Museum pays homage to transgender artist and activist Marsha P. Johnson with the title of its exhibition, “Nobody Promised You Tomorrow: Art 50 Years After Stonewall.” The show, meant to amplify the voices of those marginalized in the mainstream gay rights movement, features work from 28 young queer and transgender artists.
“The Brooklyn Museum has long been committed to providing a platform for those courageous enough to confront and question history,” Brooklyn Museum’s Anne Pasternak said in an announcement. “With ‘Nobody Promised You Tomorrow,’ we’re telling a more inclusive story of the Stonewall uprising that connects it directly to the remarkably diverse community of LGBTQ+ artists carrying on the legacy of Stonewall now and into the future.”
“PRIDE: Photographs of Stonewall and Beyond by Fred W. McDarrah”
Museum of the City of New York
On view through Dec. 31
Village Voice photographer Fred W. McDarrah played an instrumental role in capturing New York’s downtown scene and was present on the night of the Stonewall riots. Though he only took 19 photographs in those early morning hours, McDarrah went on to produce critical coverage of the period that followed — the bulk of which can be found in the publication “Pride: Photographs After Stonewall,” recently re-released by OR Books.
“PRIDE” is an extension of the museum’s exhibition “The Voice of the Village: Fred W. McDarrah Photographs.”
Top Image: “Kenny Chanel and Bobby Revlon, House of Milan Ball, NYC Gay Community Center,” Chantal Regnault, 1990. Photo courtesy of the artist and New-York Historical Society.