The Honorable Barack Obama
The White House
Dear Mr. President:
We applaud the National Park Service (NPS) for undertaking an important review of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) heritage. The LGBT Heritage Initiative is important and will hopefully result in incorporating the LGBT story in programs managed by NPS.
Yet, even while we seek to incorporate our stories through landmarks and sites on the National Registry of Historic Places, nothing compares to the full inclusion of LGBT history and culture within our national park system itself.
That is why we write today to urge you to designate the area around Stonewall as a national monument.
America’s national parks include some of the most beautiful places on earth and tell some of the most important aspects of our shared culture and history. The Grand Canyon, the Statue of Liberty, and Independence Hall are just a few examples of national park sites that capture our hearts and minds, teach us important lessons, and allow each of us to reflect on our own role in America’s history. These special places provide the opportunity to celebrate and learn about our shared past, preserve our historic spaces, and bring renewed commitment to the communities that helped to shape our country.
By establishing 16 national monuments and signing legislation creating many more, you have demonstrated that it is a priority for you to protect and preserve America’s special places. We hope you will act again to protect the places important to telling the LGBT story. For instance, in New York City, the story of Stonewall could honor the American LGBT experience. The Stonewall Inn and Christopher Park in New York’s West Village served as the site of the 1969 uprising that signified a major turning point in LGBT history and have come to symbolize the birthplace of the modern gay rights movement worldwide. This story represents a history that affects all Americans – gay and straight – and exemplifies the uniquely American values enshrined in our Bill of Rights.
Park units share stories of the African American experience, Hispanic history, and Asian American culture. Sites document the sometimes tragic journey of Native Americans and the struggle of women for the right to vote. Even though our national parks tell America’s story, there are no national park units that celebrate LGBT Americans. The LGBT story is being left out.
LGBT history is American history and it needs to be protected.
We know you agree and hope you will support our efforts to include the LGBT story as a full unit in America’s national park system.
New York Organizations