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D.C. Pride: 8 historic LGBT sites to visit

From the Furies Collective headquarters to the Dr. Franklin E. Kameny residence

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According to Genny Beemyn in their book, “A Queer Capital,” Washington, D.C. really is the “queer capital” of the U.S.

With some of the most politically and socially active LGBT communities in the nation, the District has been the birthplace for many movements and organizations, such as the Mattachine Society of Washington and the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, D.C. Certainly, the District does not tend to be the first city that comes to mind when considering the country’s most LGBT-friendly cities, especially when many of the hate-filled campaigns in the 1950s that hoped to crack down on those who were gay were launched by police and federal officials centered in the District.

Despite this, there have been several people, marches, and headquarters in the city that have bolstered the political strength of the LGBT community, such as the National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights in 1979.

Below, Curbed DC has mapped the Furies headquarters, the location of the Mattachine Society of Washington’s fifth protest, and other LGBT landmarks and historical locations worth knowing and even visiting. Washington Blade and the D.C. Preservation League both contributed to the making of this list.

If you spot any missing LGBT landmarks, be sure to let Curbed DC know by leaving a suggestion in the comments.

[UPDATE 7/19/17: The Pentagon was the site of the Mattachine Society of Washington’s fifth protest, not first.]

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1. Dr. Franklin E. Kameny Residence

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5020 Cathedral Ave NW
Washington, DC 20016

This two-story, red brick Colonial Revival property was once the home and office of the father of gay activism, Dr. Franklin E. Kameny. It also served as a headquarters for gay civil rights organizing that eventually led to overturning the American Psychiatric Association's definition of homosexuality as a mental illness.

In Vern L. Bullough’s “Before Stonewall: Activists for Gay and Lesbian Rights in Historical Context” publication, Kameny is described as "one of the most significant figures" in the American gay rights movement. The building was designated a historic landmark in 2009 for being the epicenter of the gay rights movement in Washington, D.C.

Photo via Wikimedia Commons/Farragutful

2. The Pentagon

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1400 Defense
Arlington, VA

The very first gay rights demonstration at the Pentagon was held on July 31, 1965, according to Beemyn in their book, “A Queer Capital.” Here, participants included pioneering gay rights activists John Richard “Jack” Nichols, who co-founded the Mattachine Society of Washington, and Lilli Vincenz, who was the first lesbian member of the Mattachine Society of Washington. This society that both activists were members of is known as one of the earliest gay rights organizations in the U.S. This protest at the Pentagon was also the fifth protest ever held by the society.

Photo via The New York Public Library

3. Lambda Rising

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1724 20th St NW
Washington, DC 20009

This former bookstore in Dupont Circle was founded in 1974 by Deacon Maccubbin, who contributed to the migration of LGBT members into the Northwest neighborhood, according to Frank Muzzy in his book, “Gay and Lesbian Washington, D.C.”

This discrete shop measured 300 square feet and contained 250 gay titles. One celebrity who held a book signing at the location in October 1985 was Andy Warhol. A year after opening, Lambda Rising outgrew the space and moved to 2001 S Street NW before later moving again to 1625 Connecticut Ave NW. In 2010, the bookstore closed.

Lambda Rising when it was located at Connecticut Avenue NW.
Photo via Wikimedia Commons/George Kelly

4. The White House

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1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, D.C.

With a march past the White House, a rally near the Capitol, and approximately 200,000 people, the Second National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights on October 11, 1987 is one of D.C.'s most famous marches. It is also known as simply, "The Great March."

According to Marc Stein in OutHistory.org, this march was an incredibly important episode in the LGBTQ movement and the first national coverage of the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power, or ACT UP. This march was part of six days of activities and was led by celebrities like Cesar Chavez, Eleanor Smeal, Jessie Jackson, and Whoopi Goldberg.

5. Calvary United Methodist Church

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1459 Columbia Rd NW
Washington, DC 20009

At Calvary United Methodist Church, James Tinney, a journalism professor at Howard University, founded Faith Temple, the country’s first independent church to focus on the spiritual needs of LBGT people of color. By creating Faith Temple, Tinney hoped to create a space for LGBT people of color to celebrate Christianity.

Weekly services began in September 1982. In October 1984, the location moved to the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Downtown.

Photo via Google Street View

6. Howard University

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2400 6th St NW
Washington, D.C.

At this historic D.C. university, students formed the Lambda Student Alliance, or LSA, in October 1979. This was the first openly LGBT organization at a historically black college or university. The LSA only ended up existing for two years, but it affected the campus and local black LGBT communities with as many as 50 students attending the group’s weekly meetings.

An unknown hotel that was located next to the university was also notable. It was at this hotel that approximately 500 LGBT people of color gathered for the first National Third World Lesbian and Gay Conference in October 1979. Here, attendees stemmed from Mexico, Canada, the Caribbean, and the U.S. This conference was organized by the National Coalition of Black Gays and its D.C. chapter. This event was also held concurrently with the first National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights.

The Lower Quadrangle behind Founders Library at Howard University.
Photo via Wikimedia Commons/RaEdits

7. Enik Alley Coffeehouse 

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I St NE
Washington, DC 20002

At the corner of I and 8th streets NE, this long-closed coffeehouse once served as “an informal black lesbian community center” and the headquarters for the defunct pioneer lesbian group, Sapphire Sapphos, according to Washington City Paper. Here, nationally acclaimed poet Essex Hemphill and filmmaker Michelle Parkerson showcased their works. The coffeehouse launched on New Year’s Day in 1982 by Ray Melrose, the president of the D.C. Coalition at the time. With this coffeehouse, Melrose hoped to create a social, political, and cultural space for LGBT people of color.

The possible former location of Enik Alley Coffeehouse.
Photo via Google Street View

8. The Furies Collective Headquarters

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219 11th St SE
Washington, DC 20003

In January 2016, the D.C. Historic Preservation Review Board unanimously voted to designate this Capitol Hill townhome as a historic landmark. The reason for this was that this site was once the headquarters for a lesbian feminist group, called the Furies Collective.

In the 1970s, the Furies “created and led the debate over lesbians’ place in society,” according to a historic nomination application for the home. In “A Queer Capital,” Beemyn further writes that The Furies “articulated the need for a specific lesbian feminist movement.”

This red Wardman-style townhome is the former Furies Collective headquarters.
Photo via Wikimedia Commons/Jerrye & Roy Klotz, M.D.

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1. Dr. Franklin E. Kameny Residence

5020 Cathedral Ave NW, Washington, DC 20016
Photo via Wikimedia Commons/Farragutful

This two-story, red brick Colonial Revival property was once the home and office of the father of gay activism, Dr. Franklin E. Kameny. It also served as a headquarters for gay civil rights organizing that eventually led to overturning the American Psychiatric Association's definition of homosexuality as a mental illness.

In Vern L. Bullough’s “Before Stonewall: Activists for Gay and Lesbian Rights in Historical Context” publication, Kameny is described as "one of the most significant figures" in the American gay rights movement. The building was designated a historic landmark in 2009 for being the epicenter of the gay rights movement in Washington, D.C.

5020 Cathedral Ave NW
Washington, DC 20016

2. The Pentagon

1400 Defense, Arlington, VA
Photo via The New York Public Library

The very first gay rights demonstration at the Pentagon was held on July 31, 1965, according to Beemyn in their book, “A Queer Capital.” Here, participants included pioneering gay rights activists John Richard “Jack” Nichols, who co-founded the Mattachine Society of Washington, and Lilli Vincenz, who was the first lesbian member of the Mattachine Society of Washington. This society that both activists were members of is known as one of the earliest gay rights organizations in the U.S. This protest at the Pentagon was also the fifth protest ever held by the society.

1400 Defense
Arlington, VA

3. Lambda Rising

1724 20th St NW, Washington, DC 20009
Lambda Rising when it was located at Connecticut Avenue NW.
Photo via Wikimedia Commons/George Kelly

This former bookstore in Dupont Circle was founded in 1974 by Deacon Maccubbin, who contributed to the migration of LGBT members into the Northwest neighborhood, according to Frank Muzzy in his book, “Gay and Lesbian Washington, D.C.”

This discrete shop measured 300 square feet and contained 250 gay titles. One celebrity who held a book signing at the location in October 1985 was Andy Warhol. A year after opening, Lambda Rising outgrew the space and moved to 2001 S Street NW before later moving again to 1625 Connecticut Ave NW. In 2010, the bookstore closed.

1724 20th St NW
Washington, DC 20009

4. The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, D.C.

With a march past the White House, a rally near the Capitol, and approximately 200,000 people, the Second National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights on October 11, 1987 is one of D.C.'s most famous marches. It is also known as simply, "The Great March."

According to Marc Stein in OutHistory.org, this march was an incredibly important episode in the LGBTQ movement and the first national coverage of the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power, or ACT UP. This march was part of six days of activities and was led by celebrities like Cesar Chavez, Eleanor Smeal, Jessie Jackson, and Whoopi Goldberg.

1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, D.C.

5. Calvary United Methodist Church

1459 Columbia Rd NW, Washington, DC 20009
Photo via Google Street View

At Calvary United Methodist Church, James Tinney, a journalism professor at Howard University, founded Faith Temple, the country’s first independent church to focus on the spiritual needs of LBGT people of color. By creating Faith Temple, Tinney hoped to create a space for LGBT people of color to celebrate Christianity.

Weekly services began in September 1982. In October 1984, the location moved to the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Downtown.

1459 Columbia Rd NW
Washington, DC 20009

6. Howard University

2400 6th St NW, Washington, D.C.
The Lower Quadrangle behind Founders Library at Howard University.
Photo via Wikimedia Commons/RaEdits

At this historic D.C. university, students formed the Lambda Student Alliance, or LSA, in October 1979. This was the first openly LGBT organization at a historically black college or university. The LSA only ended up existing for two years, but it affected the campus and local black LGBT communities with as many as 50 students attending the group’s weekly meetings.

An unknown hotel that was located next to the university was also notable. It was at this hotel that approximately 500 LGBT people of color gathered for the first National Third World Lesbian and Gay Conference in October 1979. Here, attendees stemmed from Mexico, Canada, the Caribbean, and the U.S. This conference was organized by the National Coalition of Black Gays and its D.C. chapter. This event was also held concurrently with the first National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights.

2400 6th St NW
Washington, D.C.

7. Enik Alley Coffeehouse 

I St NE, Washington, DC 20002
The possible former location of Enik Alley Coffeehouse.
Photo via Google Street View

At the corner of I and 8th streets NE, this long-closed coffeehouse once served as “an informal black lesbian community center” and the headquarters for the defunct pioneer lesbian group, Sapphire Sapphos, according to Washington City Paper. Here, nationally acclaimed poet Essex Hemphill and filmmaker Michelle Parkerson showcased their works. The coffeehouse launched on New Year’s Day in 1982 by Ray Melrose, the president of the D.C. Coalition at the time. With this coffeehouse, Melrose hoped to create a social, political, and cultural space for LGBT people of color.

I St NE
Washington, DC 20002

8. The Furies Collective Headquarters

219 11th St SE, Washington, DC 20003
This red Wardman-style townhome is the former Furies Collective headquarters.
Photo via Wikimedia Commons/Jerrye & Roy Klotz, M.D.

In January 2016, the D.C. Historic Preservation Review Board unanimously voted to designate this Capitol Hill townhome as a historic landmark. The reason for this was that this site was once the headquarters for a lesbian feminist group, called the Furies Collective.

In the 1970s, the Furies “created and led the debate over lesbians’ place in society,” according to a historic nomination application for the home. In “A Queer Capital,” Beemyn further writes that The Furies “articulated the need for a specific lesbian feminist movement.”

219 11th St SE
Washington, DC 20003