We welcome Heather R. White to Immanuel. Please join us for conversation.
Heather White is a historian of American religions and LGBT movements, and she’ll be discussing the research for her latest project. This research investigates the New York church that provided meeting space for more than a dozen LGBT organizations during the years surrounding the 1969 Stonewall Riots.
Why were the gay liberation organizations meeting in a church? Gay activists of the early 1970s New York called this meeting space “the community center.” The Church of the Holy Apostles was an Episcopal congregation, with a multi-racial African American, West Indian, and white membership, located adjacent to the Penn South housing development in the Manhattan neighborhood of Chelsea. During the moment of explosive LGBT growth as a community, that coincided with Stonewall Riots of June 1969, Holy Apostles provided meeting space to more than a dozen homophile and gay organizations beginning in early 1969 and through the early 1970s. Holy Apostles was a community center for a surprising breadth of an internally diverse movement: they hosted weekly dances; regular meetings of the West Side Discussion Group, the Gay Liberation Front, the Gay Activist Alliance, Gay Youth, among others; the Friday night shabbat services of Congregation Beth Simchat Torah, a gay synagogue; and Sunday morning mass for the Church of the Beloved Disciples, a gay independent Catholic church.