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How to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots in New York City

New York City is embracing the Stonewall Riots' 50 anniversary with a series of cultural events not to be missed

2019-05-28

Words: Markus Bidaux

I was recently in New York City and had the opportunity to experience some of the city's new LGBTQ events and attractions.

If you can't make it for Manhattan’s World Pride (30 June) there are Pride events across the five boroughs including Queens Pride (June 2), Brooklyn Twilight Pride Parade (8 June), 1 Bronx Festival (23 June), and Harlem Pride (31 May - 29 June).

Art After Stonewall 

The Leslie-Lohman Museum is the only dedicated art museum in the world to exhibit and preserve artwork that speaks about the LGBTQ experience. I visited the gallery for the Art After Stonewall exhibition, which is on through to 21 July.

The exhibition features more than 150 pieces of art by the likes of David Hockney, Andy Warhol and Keith Haring.

In fact, the exhibition is so large that they had to split it between two galleries, the second being a 15-minute walk away at the Grey Art Gallery.

leslielohman.org

Implicit Tensions: Mapplethorpe

To mark the 30th anniversary since the iconic photographer Robert Mapplethorpe's death, the Guggenheim Museum is hosting two exhibitions of his work.

I visited the first part, which is open through to 10 July. The show explores his celebrity work with portraits of Arnold Schwarzengger, Patti Smith, Andy Warhol and his favourite subject - himself.

He often played with gender norms when photographing himself and others. And he was also pivotal in portraying gay love through his sensual portraits of muscled bodybuilders and his graphic edgy depictions of the S&M underground scene.

It is quite interesting to see families and seniors admiring the photos of men in revealing jockstraps, leathers and chains - it really proves the artist's legacy.

The second part of the show (25 July 2019 - 5 January 2020) address's Mapplethorpe's complex legacy with a selection of his photographs positioned next to contemporary works from the Guggenheim's collection.

guggenheim.org/exhibition/mapplethorpe

Love and Resistance

I visit the NYC Public Library, which is a designed like a cathedral to knowledge, for the Love and Resistance exhibition.

I walk up a set of sweeping marble steps to the walnut-clad McGraw Rotunda, where either end of the rotunda was lit by Love and Resistance neon signs leading visitors into the two long gallery spaces, which will host the exhibition through to 13 July.

On the walls are LGBTQ artefacts from the library's private collection including photos, prints, books and magazines.

I am taken aback by a copy of the first issue of the Advocate magazine from 1967, which was printed on newsprint paper - it is just amazing to see how far we have come...

nypl.org/stonewall50

Camp: Notes on Fashion

Shortly after my trip to NYC the Met Fifth Avenue museum held its Met Gala. The theme this year was 'camp' and so is its exhibition which promises to, ahem, frock your world.

This showcase plucks at the seams of the “camp” aesthetic, exploring how and why it has become so threaded into the industry. 

Susan Sontag’s seminal 1964 essay Notes on “Camp” – about the different connotations of the word – provides the framework of this must-see for those with a passion for fashion.

It is open through to 8 September.

metmuseum.org

Broadway

Broadway's offering is as camp as ever with new musicals like The Prom about a lesbian student not being allowed to bring her girlfriend to the prom. It has proven so popular that Ryan Murphy will be adapting it for Netflix.

The new musical The Cher Show is...well it is Cher for goodness sake! Also lots of fit male dancers rocking it out to the divas best hits. 

And the over-the-top Moulin Rouge! The Musical makes its Broadway debut on 25 June.

Stonewall Inn

It would be a disgrace to visit NYC this year and not pay a visit to the Stonewall Inn.

If you want to know more about Stonewall read our interview with the founder of Christopher Street Tours here.

Hudson Yards

It's not gay, but Hudson Yards, the $25billion 28-acre development at the end of the High Line, is a must see.

There is a gorgeous new mall with 25 restaurants and over 100 shops, The Shed, a multi-purpose arts centre, but the real buzz is about the Vessel, a honeycomb-esque structure designed by British designer Thomas Heatherwick, which is made up of 154 interconnecting flights of stairs.

When I walked up it I found it almost impossible to take a bad photo of the geometric structure. 

Visit nycgo.com to find out about all the events happening around Stonewall 50 across the five boroughs. 

Stay

I stayed at the AKA Central Park, a contemporary apartment hotel located just one block south of Central Park.

The hotel is made up of 17 floors offering guests everything from studio apartments with kitchenettes all the way to suites with full kitchens and plenty lounging room.

I was lucky enough to be staying in one of the suites on the 16th floor with a terrace that wrapped around three sides of the building and even had an outdoor fire place.

The kitchen was stocked with the brand's own vodka and red wine (delicious) and the bathroom even had a shower that doubled as a steam room.

On the lower floors are complimentary meeting rooms, a laundrette, a ten-person cinema and a huge (by hotel standards) Technogym equipped fitness centre.

stayaka.com

Get There

I flew with Delta from London Heathrow. Delta also fly to NYC from Manchester, Edinburgh and Glasgow.

delta.com