Created By: Ithaca Heritage
This walking tour takes you to locations related to Ithaca's history of LGBTQ publications and shops from the 20th century.
The gay liberation and women’s movements of the 1970s resulted in the emergence of a thriving gay and lesbian (today, LGBTQ) print culture made by and for the community. Publications developed alongside the growth of lesbian and gay organizations throughout the United States, the establishment of annual Gay Pride marches, and an increased number of people coming out. Print media was not merely a result of gay liberation. Networks of readers that formed around publications allowed LGBTQ people to build community in ways that supported the broader movement. According to historian Benjamin Serby, “these symbolic connections, forged in text, were critical to the coalescence and growth of gay liberation after Stonewall.”
In the wake of the Stonewall uprising of 1969, newspapers and magazines such as the Gay Liberation Front’s COME OUT!, GAY, Drag, Gay Community News, Fag Rag, Sojourner, Tapestry, and The Lesbian Tide emerged in large cities on the East and West coasts in addition to a variety of regional and local publications in smaller cities and rural towns throughout the United States.
The general sexism that permeated society, coupled with gender differences between lesbians and gay men, resulted in Women in Print, a movement connected to gay liberation and Second Wave feminism. Women, many of whom were lesbian, attempted to create, in the words of historian Trysh Travis, “an alternative communications circuit—a woman-centered network of readers and writers, editors, printers, publishers, distributors, and retailers” to capture women’s experiences and insights in printed forms free from patriarchal and capitalist control. In doing so, these women believed they could change not only print media, but the dominant culture as a whole. As a result, an assortment of feminist periodicals and small presses flourished during the 1970s and 1980s.
If not for the emergence of LGBTQ print culture, vital information and a new perspective on what it meant to be LGBTQ would not have been otherwise available. As trailblazing gay historian John D’Emilio observes, these publications “played a decisive role in building [LGBTQ] organizations and communities and in fostering political mobilization.” While explorations of LGBTQ history tend to center major U.S. cities, this self-guided tour focuses on sites related to LGBTQ+ print culture in Ithaca, a small city in the Finger Lakes region of Central New York, and home of Cornell University.
ACCESIBILITY NOTES ABOUT THE TOUR:
Total distance travelled: 1.0 mi
Elevation: Mostly flat
A printable PDF of the tour is available at thehistorycenter.net/lgbtq-history
Listen to the tour on SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/tompkinshistory/sets/lgbtq-print-culture-walking-tour-of-ithaca