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LGBTQ+ Studies: A Resource Guide

1970s: Queer, Trans & Gay Liberation

After the events of Stonewall, LGBTQ+ activism and organizing shifted in tone, focus, and tactics. This page provides search strategies and recommended resources for researching this shift in LGBTQ+ activism following the Stonewall Uprising of 1969.

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. The GLF and the GAA took the position that the Mattachine Society and mainstream homophile movement were too focused on assimilation, rather than radical change. However, the policies and actions of NY Gay Liberation Front was still not quite radical enough- and people of color, women, trans people were again marginalized, and began to form their own organizations.

GLF Chapters arose in a number of states, including Washington and Wisconsin. 

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.

The Gay Activists Alliance was headquartered at the Firehouse, 99 Wooster Street, Manhattan, New York City. Many claim this to be the first Gay and Lesbian Community Center. 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.

  • ACT UP (chapters throughout the U.S. and the world)
  • Bash Back
  • Gay Anarchists (Buffalo, NY)
  • Gay People's Union (Milwaukee, Wi)
  • GUTS (Gay Urban Truth Squad, Dallas, TX)
  • Lesbian Avengers (Initially formed in New York, local chapters formed in the U.S. and around the world)
  • Lesbian Sex Mafia
  • Radical Queens (Milwaukee, WI)
  • STAT! (Affiliated with ACT UP Oklahoma City)
  • Queer Nation (had chapters in a number of cities)

Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries

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

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.