A fierce drag queen and a dogmatic pastor take to their stages in a city where identity is still a divisive issue.



New York City’s drag scene gave rise to some of the most famous drag queens in the world, from RuPaul to Aquaria, inspiring emerging performers like Rayne.

New York City has long been an iconic place for LGBTQ rights in the United States, with 2019 celebrating 50 years since the Stonewall Riots lit the fuse of the modern LGBTQ movement. NYC is home to the biggest LGBTQ population in the U.S.

New York state legalised same-sex marriage in 2011, four years before the nationwide supreme court ruling, and has some of the most pro-LGBTQ state laws in the country. This year, the city’s Pride celebrations will also be the host of WorldPride, an international LGBTQ event. Over three million LGBTQ people and allies, from New York City and around the world, are anticipated to attend.

However, not all New Yorkers are accepting of LGBTQ people. A survey by the New York City Comptroller’s Office found that almost half of LGBTQ New Yorkers believe they have been denied equal treatment or services or have been verbally or physically harassed in public because of their identity. Hate crimes are on the rise, influenced by the current political climate.

In Harlem, controversial preacher James Manning is resolute with his anti-gay message; showing that New York is not only a city of love and acceptance but also one of hatred and fear.

The Fight For LGBTQ Rights in New York


The New York state legislature passed the ‘Padlock Bill’, which banned any play from “depicting or dealing with, the subject of sex degeneracy, or sex perversion,” effectively prohibiting homosexual characters from the stage.


Gloria’s, a well-known gay bar, closed as the New York State Liquor Authority revoked liquor licenses from gay bars.


A “sip in” at Julius’ protested bars that refused service to gay people. Regulations that allowed this were overturned.


Riots broke out after a police raid at the Stonewall Inn, following growing frustration at police harassment.


The first gay pride march was held to mark the anniversary of the Stonewall riots.


The Metropolitan Community Church held its first service, specifically for members of the LGBTQ community who were not welcome in other churches.


The first death caused by AIDS in NYC.


The first New York Times article about AIDS was published – “RARE CANCER SEEN IN 41 HOMOSEXUALS.”


ACT UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power) launched. The group protested poor healthcare accessibility and a lack of government intervention for people infected with HIV.


Same-sex marriage is legalized in the state of New York.


New York City to host WorldPride, marking the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots.