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New York City  
 
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Embroiled in bitter and highly charged political disputes over support for the Black Panthers and the anti-war movement, and debates about the primacy of homosexual civil liberties, GLF barely survived two years before completely falling apart and splintering into many other groups. The offshoots of GLF tended to focus on more narrowly defined goals and projects, such as raising consciousness, publishing newspapers, exploring culture, organizing support groups, and promoting such political movements as effeminism, radical lesbian feminism, gay Marxism, and civil liberties.

A new organization, Gay Activists Alliance (GAA), emerged from the GLF meltdown. Defining itself as a single-interest organization in contrast to GLF's broad-ranging political interests, GAA/NY focused on advancing gay rights, mobilizing gay men and lesbians to demonstrate against any institution detrimental to the interests of glbtq people, from the American Psychiatric Association to the Catholic Church. It took as its primary political goal the passing of a citywide gay rights bill to prohibit discrimination in housing and employment. It lobbied vigorously for the introduction of municipal gay rights legislation, the first of its kind proposed in the United States, in 1971.

Sponsor Message.

The 1971 gay rights bill was not passed because of opposition led by the conservative municipal unions (in particular the Firefighter's and Police unions), the Catholic Church, and other religious groups. By a cruel irony, New York City, where the first gay civil rights legislation ever proposed in the United States had been introduced, failed to achieve civil rights protections for the glbtq community until a bill was finally passed in 1986. The continued political failure of New York City's glbtq community during the 1970s to pass a civil rights bill shifted the gay and lesbian movement's political center of gravity away from New York to San Francisco, which had elected Harvey Milk, the first openly gay elected official, to its Board of Supervisors in 1977.

Almost from the beginning of the movement, during the tempestuous days of GLF, tensions grew between women and men. Gay men were often no less misogynistic than most heterosexual men. Lesbians were critical of the hothouse sexual atmosphere that soon surfaced in meetings and social events, while gay men often remained indifferent to consciousness-raising exercises and criticism. Very early in the 1970s, impatient with gay men's lack of interest in women's issues, many lesbians left the gay organizations to focus on feminist politics. Thereafter, at least until the early 1980s, the social and political activities of lesbians and gay men developed largely separate and parallel to each other.

Jill Johnston, a journalist and dance critic for the Village Voice, one of the nation's first underground newspapers, dramatized the emergence of the new counterculture of the 1960s in her newspaper columns. A champion of lesbian and gay male artists, she was also one of the first prominent cultural writers to come out publicly as a lesbian, in her dance column.

Lesbian-feminism was the most thoroughly developed political philosophy to emerge from the heady days of early feminism and gay liberation. It was both a theory and a politics of lesbian identity. It was first publicly articulated in 1970 in the pamphlet "The Woman-Identified Woman," published by Radicalesbians (some of whom had been active in the GLF) and elaborated more fully in Jill Johnston's Lesbian Nation.

Through a series of popular and provocative essays and books, lesbian-feminist writers created an intellectual and political framework that offered bold and vigorous interpretations of feminist politics, pornography, rape, lesbian culture, and history. Despite their ideological differences and social separatism, lesbians and gay men developed coalitions at several key historical junctures to respond to political attacks from outside the lesbian and gay male communities.

The 1970s have been called, by novelist Brad Gooch, the golden age of promiscuity. In the meat packing district a former meat packing plant was turned into a famous leather sex club, the Mineshaft. The club thrived until 1985 when an AIDS-inspired crackdown on commercial sex clubs closed it down.

After the Third Avenue elevated train line was torn down, the center of bar life returned to Greenwich Village (especially Christopher Street), where a new generation of bars opened. In these venues, with names such as Badlands, Boots and Saddles, Boot Hill, Ty's, the Eagle, the Strap, the Spike, Cell Block, the Ramrod, and Pipeline, the new "macho" style of the clone replaced the "fey" style of the Bird Circuit.

The AIDS Epidemic: New York in the 1980s

In 1981, a rare form of cancer was diagnosed among gay men in New York City, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. The discovery of a virus-caused disease that was eventually named HIV/AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) created a health crisis among gay men across the country, but the gay male community in New York City was especially hard hit. New York has had more AIDS cases than any other American city. As of 1999, sixteen percent of all American AIDS cases have been diagnosed in New York City, which represents only three percent of the nation's population.

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