A black and white photo of the Gay Activists Alliance and Vito Russo marching in the 1st Christopher St Liberation Day Parade

In the Footsteps of Heroes

The Legacy of New York LGBTQ+ Activists
Highlighting the LGBTQ+ Movement in Transition

In the span of generations, remarkable leaders arise who personify the values and essence of an era, triumphing over challenges and forging a path for future influencers, amidst seemingly insurmountable barriers.

Against the backdrop of the Stonewall Uprising, courageous leaders not only sparked a movement but led the formation of several trailblazing New York State organizations and inspired a younger generation of individuals whose work broke new ground and dismantled the status quo.

This exhibition highlights an LGBTQ+ movement in transition from past to present - from forerunners to the future.

 Alongside the pioneers in this exhibit are examples of today’s newest leaders and organizations building on the work of their elders. Whether it be an emerging director changing the face of leadership, a business owner addressing the needs of their community, or an organization made to confront social and healthcare concerns as a result of COVID-19, advocates today strive to create a more equitable New York for the LBGTQ+ community. 

Exhibition on View
New York State Capitol, 2nd Floor
June 7-June 30, 2023


Top image: GAA and Vito Russo marching in 1st Christopher St Liberation Day Parade, Courtesy of the New York Public Library

The Future of LGBTQ+ in New York State

The next generation is so far advanced over us...they are born into a community already. They just discover it, whereas we were still building it. - Edie Windsor

A photo of the 2022 Pride Parade with a rainbow sign that says "New York Loves LGBTQIA+ Pride. Governor Kathy Hochul"

With lives literally at stake, the courage and commitment of the Stonewall Generation to provoke and upset the system laid important groundwork for today’s vanguard of LGBTQ+ advocates and activists. Yet challenges still persist. 

The New York State Office of the Aging and SAGE reports that as a result of life experiences of both real and perceived discrimination, many LGBTQ+ seniors face a lack of traditional healthcare and housing resources, often resulting in profound isolation. 

To address this, New York Governor Kathy Hochul recently signed bills that expand assistance for LGBTQ+ seniors, enabling a better quality of life and lifting up their legacies. 

In 2011, New York became one of the first states in the nation to legalize same-sex marriage. In the past few years, New York has also passed The Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA), which amends the Human Rights Law to prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity or expression, as well as legislation banning the use of conversion therapy on minors. 

Through the awareness and knowledge of past heroes’ victories and a focus on the rising challenges facing communities today, LGBTQ+ generations will continue to work together and pave the way for absolute equality for all, now and to come. 



In the Footsteps of Heroes
Objects on Display


Pride Flag

New York State is proud to be called home to trailblazing advocates and historical events in the history of the fight for LGBTQ+ civil rights.

In June 2019, this Pride flag was flown over the New York State Capitol for the first time in our state’s history.
Photo of the New York State Flag and the first pride, rainbow flag flown over the New York State Capitol

DRAG Magazine, Vol. 1 No. 1

DRAG Magazine was published by the Queens Liberation Front (QLF) and spearheaded by its co-founders, Lee Brewster and Bunny Eisenhower. Both the organization and the magazine were created on behalf of drag queens, and trans and gender-nonconforming people who were often excluded from some of the early LGBTQ+ activist organizations created after Stonewall.
Two pages from the DRAG magazine


The pink triangle became a pro-gay symbol by activists in the United States during the 1970s. Its original use came during World War II when known homosexuals in Nazi concentration camps were forced to wear inverted pink triangle badges as identifiers.

Loan courtesy of the New York State Museum
A sticker with the words: "Silence = Death"

COMMUNITY: A Publication by Gay People

June 1973, Vol. 1 No. 5

Marsha P. Johnson graces the cover of Community: A Publication by Gay People.
This newsletter was produced by the Pride Center of the Capital Region, the country's oldest continually operating Pride Center in the US. The newsletter was used as a means of communication with the broader LGBTQ+ people of the area.
According to, Nathaniel Gray, Executive Director of the Pride Center of the Capital Region:

“These early editions also hold a mirror up to today's anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric; while many benefits or rights have been won, there remains an underlying sentiment of hate towards LGBTQ+ communities. LGBTQ+ people exist now, as we have always existed, as a normative part of the human experience, and our collective dignity and worth are undeniable.”

Image courtesy of The Pride Center of the Capital Region
Image of magazine cover of Community