Archive for the ‘walking tours’ Category

If you haven’t seen the website for the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project, get thee hither! This amazing project documents historic sites related to LGBT people across all eras and all five boroughs.

Plus, its interactive map has a filter option, so you can search for sites by specific topics you’re particularly interested in, like, say, activist sites or theatrical sites. You can also search just for places related to lesbian history or trans history.

The group also sponsors talks about its work in the area of history and historic sites, and highlights other programs related to LGBT history in the city.

Gay “Be-In” at the Sheep Meadow in Central Park at the end of the first NYC Pride March, June 28, 1970. Photo by Diana Davies. Courtesy of the New York Public Library.



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San Francisco, Calif.

Harvey Milk home and Castro Camera
573-575 Castro Street

While we’re on the topic of walking tours…

Cruisin’ the Castro is a popular walking tour of the oh-so-gay Castro district of San Francisco, led by community historian Trevor Howard. The tour includes stops at many sites associated with Harvey Milk (1930-1978), the most famous openly gay politician of our time. Reservations can be made by calling 415-550-8110.

Originally from Brooklyn, Milk moved to San Francisco in 1968, where he worked as a financial analyst and eventually owned a camera shop in the Castro district. This Victorian storefront was the site of Castro Camera, which Milk opened with his lover, Scott Smith, in 1972 and operated for four years. The couple didn’t care that they knew little about cameras – Milk wanted to own a real neighborhood store, like his family back in Brooklyn had. The roomy store had a hand-painted shingle on the door that read “Yes, We Are Very Open.” Harvey and Scott lived upstairs.


As Milk became increasingly active in local politics, Castro Camera functioned as an ad hoc community center and Milk was the “unofficial mayor of Castro Street.” Signs in the store’s large picture windows advertised demonstrations, protests, and neighborhood meetings; camera and film sales became secondary to politics (the store’s sorry financial picture led the couple to close it in 1976). At night, Milk transferred the addresses from every check written to the store into his own political mailing list.

Milk became involved in organizing gay voter registration drives, helping to establish the first Castro Street Fair, speaking out against Anita Bryant’s antigay campaign, and working against the Briggs initiative, a proposal to bar lesbians and gay men from teaching in California public schools. During the mid-1970s, he made several bids for public office, all of which were unsuccessful. His goal, he once told a friend, was to be mayor of San Francisco.

Then the election of the liberal, gay-supportive mayor George Moscone in 1975 paved the way for Milk’s election to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1977, making Milk the first openly gay elected official in the city’s history. Sadly, both he and Moscone were gunned down by the radically conservative supervisor, Dan White, the following year. White’s lawyer pleaded the infamous “Twinkie defense” – that eating too much junk food had diminished White’s ability to reason. White went to jail anyway, but on the charge of manslaughter rather than murder one. After he was released in 1985, he committed suicide.

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I received this press release today, so I’m excerpting it here – those of you living in Southern California, or visiting the area, will be interested, I’m sure:

Frontiers Magazine, Southern California’s oldest and largest gay magazine, will be launching a series of audio walking tours on the gay & lesbian history of Los Angeles beginning March 28 and available online through the magazine’s website or iTunes. Frontiers readers will be able to download the tours onto their portable media devices and explore the hidden and mysterious history of gay life in downtown Los Angeles, as well as Silver Lake and West Hollywood.

Frontiers partnered with Stuart Timmons, a Lambda Literary Award nominee and co-author of the first comprehensive history book on Los Angeles gay life, Gay L.A., to produce the series. Listeners will join Stuart as he shares sordid tales of backroom trysts, cruel oppression, and defiant struggle at the very places these events occurred. An accompanying map and guide will be printed in the magazine, and will also be available online to download.

Arts & Entertainment Editor Japhy Grant explains the program, saying, “We wanted to present the history of gay Los Angeles in a way that would be compelling and fun for our readers. Much of our history has been covered over, both physically and through ignorance and homophobia. L.A. is such a dynamic and transient city that we don’t have a real sense of the past. Through the Frontiers Historywalk program, we’re helping people find a new way to connect to their community on foot and online.”

Frontiers Historywalk is not only the first audio walking tour of gay Los Angeles, but the first professional audio walking tour of gay history anywhere.

Frontiers Historywalk consists of three audio walking tours: Downtown, Silver Lake and West Hollywood. This progression matches that of the gay community in Los Angeles.

The release dates of each tour are as follows:

Frontiers Historywalk- Downtown – March 28
Frontiers Historywalk- Silver Lake – April 11
Frontiers Historywalk- West
Hollywood – April 25

Each tour will be available through the website at tours.frontierspublishing.com, as well as on iTunes. They will be available in a variety of formats, including a format that will display photos of the sites as the tour is playing (requires video iPod).


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