On Sunday, June 25th the Pride March will stream through the streets of NoMad, celebrating the huge advances the LBGTQ community has made in the past 50 years. Many of those openly and joyously marching will not realize that they are passing the place that served as a sanctuary for the very early gay rights movement during its darkest days.
The Mattachine Society of New York and the Daughters of Bilitis, pioneer homophile groups in the post-World War II era, both had their office in NoMad at the St. James Building. The Mattachine Society opened a chapter in New York in December of 1955, settling into their 1133 Broadway offices in April 1959. The Daughters of Bilitis quickly followed, sharing the same space. These groups were first in Room 304 of the St. James, later moving to Room 412 where the Mattachine Society remained until July 1968.
Founded by Tony Segura and Sam Morford, the Mattachine Society was one of the first organizations to fight for political equality on behalf of the gay community. They challenged the State Liquor Authority’s ban on serving gay patrons at Julius’ bar in April 1966 with the first ever “Sip-in” and continuously worked to fight police entrapment of gays.
The Daughters of Bilitis, founded by Barbara Gittings and Marion Glass, fought oppression in the LGBTQ community. They advocated for libraries to include informational books on sexual orientation for gay and lesbian youths struggling to understand their own sexuality.
Both groups were considered radical at a time of ultra-conservatism, when being openly gay still put you at risk of prosecution, violence, and social exclusion.
This June, honor the work of NoMad’s predecessors by joining in the movement for human equality. Together we can celebrate a better New York for generations to come.