Staten Island Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, & Transgender History
Post-World War II era
1958-1975: Mayfair Bar on SI Social site (also South/Midland Beach)
1969: Stonewall Uprising
1970, June 28: First anniversary of Stonewall and first Gay Pride March
1970s: Beachhaven, Lesbian Bar, South Beach.
1972-87 Audre Lorde, Black Lesbian poet, lives at 207 St. Paul’s Avenue, Staten Island with 2 children and Frances Clayton. Taught at John Jay and then Hunter College, CUNY. In 1975, Lorde wins SI Community College Woman of the Year.
1972: Founding of Dignity/New York (begun 1969 Los Angeles by Father Patrick Nidorf).
1973: First LGBT College Courses Taught at Richmond College (2-year college).
Arnie Kantrowitz, Richmond College English professor, taught “Homosexuals and Literature” course to all gay students in 1973. He was among the leaders of the Gay Activists Alliance/New York, a co-founder of the Gay Academic Union in New York and later in 1985 of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance against Defamation. He frequented the gay dances at the Firehouse. “I consider that I have chosen to join the ranks of the Oppressed” about coming out at work in 1970. “I was a homosexual first and anything else second. I was professionally gay.” Kantrowitz, gay and Jewish, marches in the 1973 Gay Pride parade.
Staten Island Community College (founded 1956) and Richmond College (founded 1965, merged 1976 as College of Staten Island) both had significant gay and lesbian organizations. For example: Phyllis Chesler, first woman in the Richmond College Psychology Department (1969), co-founder of the Women’s Health Network, accused of teaching “man-hating” “Witchcraft” and “Lesbianism.” Bertha Harris, novelist and teacher at Richmond College in the 1970s, presented a theory of lesbian literature at the first symposium on Homosexual literature of the Modern Languages Convention, NYC. Sandra Tangri, national civil rights activists described the “raucous beginnings of the women’s studies program at Richmond College” in the early 70s and taught one of the first psychology of women courses there.
1973 Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays of New York City (PFLAG NYC) founded. (Need date for SI Chapter)
1974: Dorothy Riddle, Richmond College, developed the Riddle Homophobia scale as part of the American Psychological Association Task Force on Gays and Lesbians. She had founded the first B.A. granting Women Studies program in 1971.
1975: Club Brazil Opens at 86 Mills Ave, an Island gay hotspot for disco dancing until 1982
1979, October 14: First National March for Gay and Lesbian Liberation, Washington D.C (Audre Lorde speaker). Over 75,000 participate.
1982: Founding of Lambda Associates of Staten Island chapter (until 2000)
1982: Staten Island Advance begins coverage of Gay and Lesbian issues
1982: Over 400 attend first Gay and Lesbian Dance on Staten Island, at The Oaks.
Early 80s: Staten Island Lesbian Kinship (SILK) meet monthly. Among civic actions, they organize lesbian blood drive in response to AIDS crisis at the Sandcastle bar (opens mid-70s).
1983 or 84: SI Lambda Associates participates in Gay and Lesbian Pride parade in Manhattan, marching with replica of the Staten Island Ferry. Annual dances at Park Villa.
1987: March on Washington
1988: Founding of Staten Island AIDS Task Force (later, in 2004, renamed Community Health Action of Staten Island, CHASI)
1988: October 11th: First National Coming Out Day
1988: Terri Russo, founder Down Syndrome Foundation, first out lesbian honored as Staten Island Advance Woman of Achievement
Late 1980s: NYPD Gay sensitivity training on SI
1990: Mayor Dinkins - Gay and Lesbian Police Council (SI representative Chris Bauer)
1990: Hate Crime: Murder of James Zappalorti, Charleston
1991, May: Five-Borough Demonstration against Gay/Lesbian Bias Attacks
1992, June-November: Children of the Rainbow Curriculum debates at NYC School Board meetings on and off Staten Island; Chris Bauer and others led to efforts to elect progressive members of SI School Board (District 31)
1993: Protests against SI St. Patrick’s Day Parade Marshall Cardinal O’Connor
1993: March through Rossville to protest beating of Michael Zappalorti
1994: Staten Island Borough President Guy Molinari announces that Karen Burstein, a judge, is unqualified to serve as attorney general because she is a lesbian.
1994-97: Controversies over depicting Alice Austen as Gay erupt on Staten Island; Thomas Shanahan, a gay rights lawyer who grew up on SI, begins to work for Mark Green, NYC Public Advocate
2005: Staten Island's first LGBT Pride Parade held in June with Grand Marshal Jim Smith
2005: Founding of Staten Island Stonewall
2007: Matthew Titone, first openly gay elected official on Staten Island (61st district)
2008: May 31, Bent Pages, NYC's only remaining LGBT bookstore opens @ 391 Van Duzer St.
2008: Staten Island Pride Events (SIPE) is formed to create social and recreational events and activities on Staten Island
2009: July 17, Opening Q SINY bar, South Beach
2010: First Staten Island LGBT Prom
2010: Staten Island Pride Events (SIPE) makes its debut at the Island’s 20th annual Columbus Day parade on New Dorp Lane
2010: Mary Glasspool, first openly gay female elected bishop of Episcopal Church. Born on Staten Island Feb. 23, 1954, her family moved upstate that year.
Sources:Love, Barbara, Feminists who Changed America. Champaign, Illinois: University of Illinois Press, 2006.
Arne Kantrowitz We Are Everywhere: A Historical Source Book of Gay and Lesbian Politics. New York: Routledge, 1997
Michelangelo Signorile (radio host), Queer in America: Sex, Power and the Closets of Power. Madison, Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin Press, 2003. First published 1993.
Drafted by Lori R. Weintrob, Associate Professor of History, with assistance from Jim Smith and Sheri Clemens.