The first initiative to document historic and cultural sites associated with the LGBT community in New York City, illustrating the richness of the city's history and the community's influence on America.
Many LGBT individuals are buried at Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, one of the most beautiful landscapes in America. Here one can visit the gravesites of such famous individuals as Leonard Bernstein, Fred Ebb, and Emma Stebbins.
Bucolic Green-Wood Cemetery, founded in 1832, is the final resting place of many members of the LGBT community. Some well-known figures include:
Leonard Bernstein was a prominent composer and conductor for live performance and film, including the scores for "West Side Story,' "On the Town," and "On the Waterfront."
Elizabeth Cushier (1837-1931), a leading 19th-century obstetrician and surgeon at the New York Infirmary for Women and Children and a professor of medicine at its Women’s Medical College, which were both co-founded by her partner Emily Blackwell (1821-1910), an eminent English-born physician who was the first woman to earn a medical degree in the United States. The couple lived together in New York City from 1882 to c. 1900 and were together 28 years until Blackwell’s death in 1910. Blackwell’s ashes were buried in the graveyard of St. Munn’s Parish Church in Scotland.
Fred Ebb was a musical theater lyricist who, as part of the team of Kander and Ebb, wrote the lyrics for such musicals as "Cabaret" and "Chicago." He is interred with Edwin Aldridge and Martin Cohen.
Louis Moreau Gottschalk was a composer and pianist who was a virtuoso performer of his own music. After the Angel of the Music statue at his gravesite was vandalized in 1959, Green-Wood Cemetery raised funds over a nearly 15-year period to create a new version, which was unveiled in 2012.
Augustus and John were important figures in early 19th century Brooklyn, were buried here, though not together. After Augustus left his wife and children, he and John adopted the last name Graham, moved in together, and posed as brothers. There was speculation at the time, and in the years that followed, that these clues indicated a same-sex relationship. Augustus founded the Apprentices’ Library in Brooklyn Heights in 1824, which later became the Brooklyn Institute and finally the Brooklyn Museum of Art. In 1851, John founded the Brooklyn Society for the Relief of Respectable Aged, Indigent Females, which later became the Graham Home for Old Ladies (it was converted to condos in 2001).
Hetrick and Martin were the founders of the Institute for the Protection of Lesbian and Gay Youth (later renamed the Hetrick-Martin Institute) and Harvey Milk High School.
Richard Isay was a psychiatrist, psychoanalyst, author, and LGBT rights activist. He spearheaded a campaign resulting in the changes to the homophobic policies of the American Psychoanalytic Association (APsaA) in 1991 and was also the organization’s first openly gay member.
Paul Jabara was a Lebanese-American singer/songwriter and actor who wrote songs for such artists as Donna Summers (including her hit "Last Dance") and Barbra Streisand and was part of the original casts of "Hair" and "Jesus Christ Superstar." He died of AIDS, age 44, in Los Angeles.
Violet Oakley was a renowned illustrator and muralist and the first American woman to receive a public mural commission, which was for the Pennsylvania State Capitol in Harrisburg. She excelled in a field dominated at the time by men.
Emma Stebbins was a sculptor best known for her "Angel of the Waters" masterpiece that sits atop the Bethesda Fountain in Central Park, which she created in Rome in the 1860s while living with her lover, actress Charlotte Cushman. The sculpture was the first piece of public artwork by a woman in New York City.
Architect or Builder: various landscape architects Year Built: 1832
Jeffrey I. Richman, ed., Green-Wood at 175: Looking Back/Looking Forward (Brooklyn: Green-Wood, 2013). Lillian Faderman, Odd Girls and Twilight Lovers: A History of Lesbian Life in 20th-Century America (New York: Columbia University Press, 1991). Olive Hoogenboom, “August Graham,” Dictionary of Unitarian & Universalist Biography, August 30, 2001, http://bit.ly/2wbsUTt.
Entrance to Green-Wood Cemetery, c. 1870s. Courtesy of the New York Public Library.