Crafting Your Experience

New YorkHistory
NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project

LGBT Theater District

This experience is sponsored, in part, by the generous support of American Express, Con Edison, and a Humanities New York Action Grant. As the birthplace of American theater, New York City is home to a vibrant theater district that has been disproportionally impacted by LGBT people for well over a century. Explore Broadway through LGBT-themed plays, production teams, performers, and related associations. In addition to celebratory contributions, learn about the impact of the Wales Padlock Law (1927), which forbade the depiction of “sex perversion” on the stage. The tour highlights: the Belasco Theater, connected to A Raisin in the Sun, by lesbian playwright Lorraine Hansberry; Ethel Barrymore Theater, associated with productions by gay playwrights Noel Coward, Tennessee Williams, and James Baldwin; Little Theater (now Helen Hayes), where gay-themed plays Gemini and Torch Song Trilogy were performed; and the Winter Garden Theater, where West Side Story premiered as the result of an all gay, lesbian, and bisexual creative team. This tour represents a selection of extant sites associated with LGBT history that are located within a small geographic area. As such, it does not represent the entire long LGBT history of New York City, nor does it entirely reflect the diversity of today’s LGBT community. This collection is limited to the research we have included on the project website so far. For more information or to suggest a site, please visit our website at www.nyclgbtsites.org.

  • 1.

    Hudson Theater

    Hudson Theater

    The Hudson Theater was the venue for two early plays with gay male characters.

  • 2.

    Stephen Sondheim Theater

    Stephen Sondheim Theater

    This theater opened as Henry Miller's Theater in 1918 and became the Stephen Sondheim Theater in 2010.

  • 3.

    Ed Sullivan Theater

    Ed Sullivan Theater

    Originally named Hammerstein's Theater, this venue only served as a legitimate theater for about a decade

  • 4.

    Mark Hellinger Theater

    Mark Hellinger Theater

    Originally the Hollywood theater, this site was also known as the 51st Street Theater from 1940-1949.

  • 5.

    August Wilson Theater

    August Wilson Theater

    Originally the Guild Theater, this venue has hosted many LGBT-associated productions.

  • 6.

    Eugene O'Neill Theater

    Eugene O'Neill Theater

    This theater was originally called the Forrest Theater, and has had several names over the years.

  • 7.

    Lunt-Fontanne Theater

    Lunt-Fontanne Theater

    This venue was originally named the Globe Theater.

  • 8.

    Richard Rodgers Theater

    Richard Rodgers Theater

    This venue was originally named Chanin's 46th Street Theater. It has hosted several LGBT-associated hits.

  • 9.

    St. James Theater

    St. James Theater

    The St. James was originally named the Erlanger Theater.

  • 10.

    AMC Empire 25 Theater

    AMC Empire 25 Theater

    This site was originally named the Eltinge Theater, after the famous female impersonator Julian Eltinge.

  • 11.

    Cort Theater

    Cort Theater

    The Cort theater has presented numerous LGBT-associated productions over the years.

  • 12.

    Broadhurst Theater

    Broadhurst Theater

    The Broadhurst has hosted a wide range of LGBT-assoiated performances.

  • 13.

    Samuel J. Friedman Theater

    Samuel J. Friedman Theater

    This venue opened as the Biltmore Theater in 1926.

  • 14.

    Booth Theater

    Booth Theater

    The Booth theater was home to several big hits with LGBT associations.

  • 15.

    Apollo Theater (42nd Street)

    Apollo Theater (42nd Street)

    In 1923 the first lesbian love scene on Broadway was depicted at the Apollo Theater.

  • 16.

    Ambassador Theater

    Ambassador Theater

    The Ambassador has been the venue for several big hits with LGBT associations.

  • 17.

    Shubert Theater

    Shubert Theater

    This theater has had the highest number of productions with LGBT associations.

  • 18.

    Gerald Schoenfeld Theater

    Gerald Schoenfeld Theater

    Originally the Plymouth Theater, this site has seen several LGBT-associated hits.

  • 19.

    Majestic Theater

    Majestic Theater

    The Majestic has hosted a number of iconic musicals with LGBT associations that were enormous hits.

  • 20.

    Nederlander Theater

    Nederlander Theater

    Originally the National Theater, this venue has seen hits such as "Little Foxes" and "The Corn is Green".

  • 21.

    Music Box Theater

    Music Box Theater

    There have been many LGBT-associated productions at the Music Box that were big hits.

  • 22.

    Imperial Theater

    Imperial Theater

    The Imperial Theater has had a long history of LGBT-associated productions.

  • 23.

    Al Hirschfeld Theater

    Al Hirschfeld Theater

    Originally the Martin Beck Theater, this venue has been the site of several LGBT-associated hits.

  • 24.

    American Airlines Theater (interior)

    American Airlines Theater (interior)

    Originally the Selwyn Theater, this venue had a successful but short history as a legitimate theater.

  • 25.

    About the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project

    About the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project

    Learn about the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project

  • 26.

    Carnegie Hall: Studio Towers

    Carnegie Hall: Studio Towers

    Constructed atop Carnegie Hall, the Studio Towers was the residence of LGBT artists over the years.

  • 27.

    Lyceum Theater

    Lyceum Theater

    The Lyceum Theater has a long history of LGBT-associated productions.

  • 28.

    Palace Theater (interior)

    Palace Theater (interior)

    The Palace Theater started off as a vaudeville venue and has maintained strong LGBT connections since.

  • 29.

    Ethel Barrymore Theater

    Ethel Barrymore Theater

    Noel Coward, Lorraine Hansberry, Tennessee Williams, and James Baldwin had their work performed here.

  • 30.

    New York City Center

    New York City Center

    The Moorish-inspired building has many LGBT associations with American opera and dance.

  • 31.

    Belasco Theater

    Belasco Theater

    Numerous plays with LGBT associations were staged here including the lesbian drama Trio in 1945.

  • 32.

    Bernstein Residence at the Osborne Apartments

    Bernstein Residence at the Osborne Apartments

    Leonard Bernstein lived in the Osborne Apartments from 1951 until c. 1960.

  • 33.

    Carnegie Hall

    Carnegie Hall

    Carnegie Hall has featured the work and performances of countless LGBT artists since its opening in 1891.

  • 34.

    Little Theater

    Little Theater

    The smallest house on Broadway has been home to plays with gay themes in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

  • 35.

    Winter Garden Theater

    Winter Garden Theater

    The theater has been home to many musicals created by LGBT community members including West Side Story.

  • 36.

    Studio 54

    Studio 54

    In 1977, Studio 54 opened and became one of the world’s most famous discos with a fusion of LGBT patrons.

  • 37.

    John Golden Theater

    John Golden Theater

    Originally known as the Theatre Masque, this venue has held many LGBT-associated productions.

  • 38.

    Bernard B. Jacobs Theater

    Bernard B. Jacobs Theater

    Originally named the Royale Theater, "Cactus Flower" (1965-68) was a big LGBT-associated hit here.

  • 39.

    Walter Kerr Theater

    Walter Kerr Theater

    Originally the Ritz Theater, this venue hosted several early plays written by openly gay playwrights.

  • 40.

    Longacre Theater

    Longacre Theater

    The Longacre has been the site of three major LGBT-associated hits.

  • 41.

    Broadway Theater (interior)

    Broadway Theater (interior)

    The Broadway Theater opened as a vaudeville house, and has since hosted many plays with LGBT associations

  • 42.

    Times Square Theater

    Times Square Theater

    The Times Square Theater had a short, but rich, history as a legitimate theater.

  • 43.

    Neil Simon Theater

    Neil Simon Theater

    Originally the Alvin Theater, this venue has hosted several LGBT-associated productions.

  • 44.

    New Victory Theater

    New Victory Theater

    Originally the Theater Republic, this venue has held two known plays by gay playwrights.

  • 45.

    New Amsterdam Theater

    New Amsterdam Theater

    The New Amsterdam theater has hosted several performances with LGBT creators and performers.

  • 46.

    Brooks Atkinson Theater

    Brooks Atkinson Theater

    Originally the Mansfield Theater, this venue has been home to many LGBT-associated plays.

  • 47.

    Lyric Theater

    Lyric Theater

    The Lyric Theater has had several hits by gay playwrights and composers.

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