By Karen Matthews in New York via The Associated Press
A visitor centre dedicated to telling the story of the LGBTQ rights movement will open next door to the Stonewall Inn, according to an announcement Tuesday by the nonprofit that will manage the centre in partnership with the National Park Service.
The groundbreaking for the Stonewall National Monument Visitor Center in New York City’s Greenwich Village neighborhood will take place Friday, with the centre expected to open in summer 2024, said Ann Marie Gothard, board president of Pride Live, an LGBTQ advocacy organization.
“The opening of the Stonewall National Monument Visitor Center is a remarkable moment in the history of Stonewall,” Gothard said. “We honor all those who came before us, most especially the queer people fighting for equality at the Stonewall riots.”
The Stonewall National Monument became the first U.S. national monument dedicated to LGBTQ history when it was dedicated in 2016 across the street from the Stonewall Inn, where patrons fought back against a police raid on June 28, 1969, and helped spark the contemporary LGBTQ rights movement.
The Stonewall rebellion is commemorated every year with Pride marches in cities across the U.S. and the world.
This year’s Pride Month in New York kicked off June 1 with the dedication of a rainbow flag at the Stonewall monument, the first rainbow flag to fly daily on federal land. The ceremony followed a yearslong battle by activists to ensure that a rainbow flag would fly on federal land at the Stonewall monument.
The 7.7-acre monument includes the park known Christopher Park, across from the Stonewall, but does not include the Stonewall itself, which is still a bar. The visitor centre will be housed in the storefront adjoining the Stonewall, which was part of the bar in 1969.
Gothard said that when the national monument was created in 2016 “it became clear that a visitor centre was needed.”
The Stonewall visitor center will offer in-person and virtual tours, lectures and visual arts displays dedicated to the history of the LGBTQ rights movement, Gothard said.
Although it will be managed by Pride Live, the centre will also serve as home base for National Park Service staff members.
“The visitor center and its exhibits will celebrate and acknowledge LGBTQ+ accomplishments and serve as a place where people can learn about and connect with the LGBTQ+ community’s ongoing struggle for civil liberties,” National Park Service Director Chuck Sams said in a prepared statement.
Corporations including Google and JPMorgan Chase are providing funding for the centre.
“It’s vital to create safe and inclusive spaces for the LGBTQ community, and we are proud to support the opening of the Stonewall National Monument Visitor Centre, a space that will memorialize the legacy of Stonewall,” said William Floyd, Google’s senior director of public policy.