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LGBTQIA+ Studies: A Resource Guide

Activism After Stonewall

This page provides search strategies and recommended resources for researching LGBTQ+ activism post-Stonewall. This page provides links to materials in the Library of Congress Collections, and is not intended to be a comprehensive account. 

Trans Liberation: Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries and Queens Liberation Front

Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries was founded in New York in 1970, by activists Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson. The concerns of STAR were more immediate than the long process of legislative change. STAR was dedicated to helping those most in need in the community.

STAR was for the street gay people, the street homeless people, and anybody that needed help at that time" (Rivera, 1998, Interview with Leslie Feinberg).External

STAR provided food, clothing, and shelter for countless homeless trans youth, and eventually had chapters in Chicago, California and England. STAR worked often with other organizers and community groups, including the Queens Liberation Front (QLF) and the Young Lords Party. While STAR did not publish a magazine of their own, you can find many references to their pioneering work in LGBTQ+ periodicals of the time period.

Queens Liberation Front and Drag Magazine

The Queens Liberation Front was founded in 1969 by drag queen Lee Brewster and "heterosexual transvestite" Bunny Eisenhower. Importantly, the QLF published Drag Magazine, which provides the crucial perspective of drag queens, trans and gender-nonconforming peoples during this time period. Further, the magazine often covers areas that were not being covered by mainstream homophile publications, which tended to cluster on the U.S. coasts and in larger cities.

Drag Magazine and the Queens Liberation Front were activists organizing on behalf of those left behind by mainstream gay liberation, in particular, the drag queens, trans, and gender non-conforming people. The QLF raised money for the first annual Pride march, Christopher Street Liberation Day (1970), and worked to legalize cross-dressing in New York City. The QLF worked often with the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries, founded by Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson.Read about the QLF and STAR co-leading an action External in Albany, New York (pictures included), which was a demonstration in support of legally repealing cross-dressing and female impersonation laws.

Trans* & Drag Queen Liberation across the United States

Just as Gay Liberation Front chapters spread nationwide, so too did the movement for trans liberation. The Transvestite Information Service (TVIS) had a national office in Spencer, North Carolina, with a number of chapters throughout the U.S.  Additional states with trans liberation or revolutionary organizations included (not comprehensive): 

  • California (TV-TS, Transexual Guidance, Transexual Counseling Service)
  • Colorado (Transvestite Information Service)
  • Florida (Transexual Action Organization)
  • Illinois (Transvestites Independent Chapter)
  • Louisiana (Erickson Educational Foundation)
  • Michigan (Transvestite Information Service)
  • Minnesota (Transvestite Information Service)
  • New Jersey (Transvestite Rap Group)
  • North Carolina (National Office of the Transvestite Information Service, published a bi-monthly newsletter)
  • Oklahoma (Transvestite Information Service)
  • Tennessee (Transvestite Help Line)
  • Washington (See directories published by Empathy Press)
  • Wisconsin (Radical Queens in Milwaukee)

Leffler, Warren K., photographer. Gay rights demonstration at the Democratic National Convention, New York City. 1976. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

In the weeks following Stonewall, activists in New York organized the Gay Liberation Front (GLF). A few months later, the Gay Activists Alliance (GAA) was founded in December 1969. New LGBT+ activist organizations began to form across the United States and internationally. Many of these groups formed at college campuses. While historical accounts have largely focused on the activism on the east and west coasts post-Stonewall, LGBT+ activism was flourishing all over the country, including the midwest and the southern United States. 

However, gay liberation was not equally liberating for everyone. People of color, women, and trans people were often marginalized by the mainstream gay rights movements, and continued to form their own organizations. In 1970, Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson went on to found the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries. Lee Brewster and Bunny Eisenhower formed the Queens Liberation Front in 1969. People of color largely continued to work in separate movements for racial justice and civil rights, never having felt welcome by the predominately white homophile movement.

Similarly, a number of lesbian activists began to organize independent groups, including lesbian separatist organizations and collectives. Del Martin, co-founder of the Daughters of Bilitis wrote in 1970: "Goodbye to the male chauvinists of the homophile movement...Gay is Good but not good enough-so long as it is limited to white males only" (Source: The Advocate). 

GLF Chapters

A number of Gay Liberation Front chapters formed throughout the United States. Some worked directly with other GLF chapters, while others worked autonomously. In addition to New York, consulting directories and primary sources show that there were known Gay Liberation Front groups in the following states: 

  • Alabama
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • District of Columbia 
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii (One chapter had a listed address at 215 Oahu Avenue in Honolulu (via Waikiki Ministries) and another chapter at 95-605 Waikalani Drive, Wahiawa, Oahu.)
  • Illinois
  • Indiana 
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota 
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • North Carolina
  • Ohio
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • Tennessee 
  • Texas
  • Vermont
  • Virginia 
  • Washington
  • Wisconsin 
Lavender Menace and Radicalesbians

In 1970, lesbians in the New York Gay Liberation Front went on to form the Radicalesbians, a lesbian activist organization. Try searching activist's names in the Library of Congress Online Catalog to find relevant materials. Known members included: Karla Jay, Martha Shelley, Rita Mae Brown, Lois Hart, Barbara Love, Ellen Shumsky, Artemis March, Cynthia Funk, Linda Rhodes, Arlene Kushner, Ellen Broidy, and Michela Griffon.

Primary Sources:

"Drag Queens to Form Their Own Organization." Gay, no. 1, 1969, p. 10. 

"Drag Queens Demonstrate." Drag Magazine, Vol. 1., 1971. 

Homophile Action League, HAL Newsletter, Jan/Feb 1970. 

The following titles link to fuller bibliographic information in the Library of Congress Online Catalog. Links for additional online content are provided when available.

The Gay Activists Alliance was formed in New York City in December 1969. It's most active years were 1970-1974. The GAA were known for their "zaps," which were direct actions against oppressors. Zaps were such an important tactic that the GAA had a Zap Committee. Of crucial importance was the media coverage (or lack thereof) of the issue being confronted by the zap. GAA chapters formed all over the United States.

The Gay Activists Alliance was headquartered at the Firehouse, 99 Wooster Street, Manhattan, New York City. In 1974 the Firehouse was destroyed by arson.

The following titles link to fuller bibliographic information in the Library of Congress Online Catalog. Links for additional online content are provided when available.

It can be useful to search by organization name. This will help to focus and narrow your search. This list is not comprehensive, but is meant to offer some helpful starting points for research. Use these terms to search the Online Catalog, digital collections, or subscription databases. 

U.S. Midwest: 

  • Radical Queens (Milwaukee, WI)
  • Homosexual Freedom League/Gay Liberation Organization (Formed at UW-Milwaukee, 1970)
  • Gay Peoples Union (Milwaukee, WI). Published Take Heed! newsletter, GPU News, and Milwaukee Update)
  • Milwaukee Gay Liberation Front (formed 1970)

U.S. South

  • Daughters of Bilitis New Orleans (Louisiana), published Gay-LA periodical. Early meetings held at Metropolitan Community Church. 
  • Gay Liberation Front New Orleans (1970)
  • Gertrude Stein Society (Louisiana), published IMPACT.
  • STAT! (Affiliated with ACT UP Oklahoma City)
  • GUTS (Gay Urban Truth Squad, Dallas, TX)
  • Lesbian Alliance of St. Louis (Missouri)
  • Tulane University Gay Students Union (New Orleans, LA)

U.S. East Coast

  • Salsa Soul Sisters (New York)
  • Gay Anarchists (Buffalo, NY)
  • Lesbian Avengers (Initially formed in New York, local chapters formed in the U.S. and around the world)

U.S. West Coast 

  • Berkeley Gay Women's Rap
  • Berkeley Gay Women's Liberation
  • Chutspah! San Francisco
  • Gay Liberation Front Los Angeles
  • Gay Peoples Union, Stanford University
  • Gay Teenagers, Oakland, CA
  • Gay Women's Liberation, Oakland, CA
  • Golden Gate Gay Liberation House 
  • Institute for Homosexual Liberation (San Francisco)
  • Lesbian Mothers Union (California)
  • Native American Gay Rap Group (San Francisco)