With New York City being the heart of the LGBT rights movement far before the Stonewall riots of 1969 that pioneered the gay rights movement, the city is not only a safe haven but a rich location for LGBT travelers and others who are invested in the history and movement. Not only is New York City one of the safest locations in the world for LGBT travelers with protections that exceed far beyond those in many other areas of the country, but it is also incredibly dense in culture, with many native New Yorkers themselves barely scratching the surface of the gay civil rights history here.
Visitors here can visit the Stonewall Inn, the famous site often regarded as the beginning of the LGBT rights movement after the riots held in 1969, or to take part in the New York City Pride March, the largest of its kind with 150,000 participants and 5 million visitors in 2019.
However, tourists certainly shouldn't disregard the complex array of museums and sites devoted to the LGBT community off the beaten trail. Gay bars are present throughout the city and many restaurants are openly accepting to LGBT people, many of which are also devoted to the community's history as well. Museums documenting the silenced voices of LGBT community through history far before the 1960s are frequent, each telling their own unique story.
The New York City government is heavily involved in the culture and protection within the LGBT community, including a beautiful transformation of New York City during Pride Month ranging from flying rainbow pride flags on the city's buildings to raising awareness about arts, community centers, and literature relating to the community. If you want to travel somewhere dense in the culture and protection of the LGBT community, then New York City should be first on your list as the power the movement has had in the past century has given the city an entirely new but beautiful identity.
Greenwich Village, Chelsea and Hell's Kitchen are the most popular neighborhoods for LGBT people.
- 1 The Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art, 26 Wooster Street (between Grand & Canal Streets), ☏ +1-212-431-2609. W F-Su noon-6PM, Th noon-8PM. The first art museum in the world that is solely dedicated to gay and lesbian art. Suggested admission $10.
- 2 Gay Liberation Monument, Christopher Park (on Christopher Street in the West Village section of Manhattan). A monument featuring the sculpture Gay Liberation by American artist George Segal at the northern end of the park. The art installation commemorates the Stonewall riots and features four figures (two standing men and two seated women) positioned in "natural, easy" poses. The bronze statues are covered in white lacquer, cast in 1980 from plaster moulds of human models. Two "World's Fair-style" benches and a plaque are also part of the monument. The monument was dedicated on June 23, 1992, and is part of the Stonewall National Monument.
- Stonewall National Monument, in the West Village neighborhood of Greenwich Village in Lower Manhattan. A 7.7-acre (3.1-ha) U.S. National Monument. The designated area includes Christopher Park and the block of Christopher Street bordering the park, which is directly across the street from the Stonewall Inn—the site of the Stonewall riots of June 28, 1969, widely regarded as the start of the modern LGBT rights movement in the United States.
- 3 NYC AIDS Memorial, 76 Greenwich Ave, Greenwich Village (St. Vincent's Triangle). A public memorial to honor the more than 100,000 New Yorkers who have died from AIDS, and to celebrate the efforts of the caregivers and activists.
- The LGBT Community Center, 208 W 13 St, ☏ +1-212-620-7310. M–Sa 9AM-10PM, Su 9AM-9PM; coffee shop M–F 8AM-8PM, Sa Su 9AM-8PM. The center frequently hosts speeches, performances, and workshops.
- Christopher Street Pier, at along the Hudson River. A popular park for gay men to run themselves and hang out.
- 1 Gunnison Beach, Sandy Hook, New Jersey. The nearest nude beach to NYC, though not exclusively gay. New Jersey’s only legal clothing-optional beach. Ferries operate seasonally May—September with a connecting shuttle service.
- Fire Island Pines. The most famous gay beach in New York State. It is famous for the social life and beautiful harbor. It's too far to visit on a day trip, but makes a great weekend trip. Take the Long Island Railroad (LIRR) train from Penn station to one of the various communities on Fire Island, then a shuttle or taxi to the ferry terminal and then a ferry. Lodging is limited, so take care to book many months in advance.
- BGSQD -- The Bureau of General Services—Queer Division, 208 West 13th Street Room 210, ☏ +1 646-457-0859. Tu-Su 1-7PM. An independent, all-volunteer queer cultural center, bookstore, and event space hosted by Tlthe Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center in the West Village. Books, publications, art, readings, performances, film screenings, book discussion groups, and workshops.
- Nasty Pig, 259 W 19th St., Chelsea, ☏ +1-212-691-6067. Sportswear and gear blending hip-hop culture and gay culture.
- Big Gay Ice Cream, 518 Columbus Ave (Upper West Side), 207 Front Street (South Street Seaport), 125 East 7th Street (East Village), 61 Grove Street (West Village). Soft serve ice cream cones, and cups, with a plethora of toppings.
- 1 Stonewall Inn, 53 Christopher St, ☏ +1 212-488-2705. M-W 2PM-4AM, Th-Su noon-4AM. A veritable icon of the worldwide gay community, not just New York's. While it's not the original incarnation of the bar that was the site of the Stonewall riots of 1969 (the building has gone through several uses since then), the current incarnation pays homage to the old and has regained its prominence as a meeting place in the LGBT community. You must be 21 and a proper ID is required. 2-drink minimum.
- 2 Paddles, 250 W. 26th St. (between 7th & 8th Avenues). NYC's alternative, fetish, and BDSM club.
New York is for the most part a very LGBT-friendly city, however anti-gay hate crimes do sometimes occur in NYC.
The LGBT Community Center (see above) hosts many Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, and other twelve-step recovery groups. The center's Mental Health and Social Services division also sponsors support groups focused on coming out, transgender issues, bereavement, and other topics of concern to the LGBT community.