This story first appeared in The Advocate. You can read it here.
The National Park Service will open a visitor center dedicated to LGBTQ+ history in New York City in the building adjacent to the Stonewall Inn, the iconic gay Manhattan landmark.
Earlier this week, officials announced plans to reconnect the Stonewall Inn with its neighboring building in Greenwich Village, where the 1969 riot sparked the modern LGBTQ+ rights movement.
The Stonewall National Monument Visitor Center will be home to rangers working to preserve Stonewall Inn, which was designated a national monument by President Obama in 2016.
LGBTQ+ rights group Pride Live spearheaded the planning for the center.
In addition to in-person and virtual tours, visitors will also be able to explore LGBTQ+ history and culture through lectures, exhibitions, and visual arts displays.
Several leaders hail the move as a historic step forward for the LGBTQ+ community, especially in light of right-wing attacks.
"The opening of the Stonewall National Monument Visitor Center is a remarkable moment in the history of Stonewall," Ann Marie Gothard, president of the Pride Live board of directors, said in the announcement. "We honor all those who came before us, most especially the queer people fighting for equality at the Stonewall Rebellion. The designation as a National Monument and the opening of this visitor center will memorialize their important legacy in the gay rights movement, and we hope will inspire future generations to continue fighting for LGBTQ+ equality."
The Stonewall Inn originally consisted of two buildings: 53 Christopher St., where the current bar is, and 51 Christopher St., where a 3,700-square-foot visitor center will open in 2024.
"The new Stonewall National Monument Visitor Center will serve as an important memorial for the Stonewall Uprising, an iconic and pivotal moment in the essential effort to fully realize America's founding ideal that we are all created equal," said U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. "I'm proud New York will be home to the first LGBTQ+ visitor center within the National Park Service, honoring the LGBTQ+ community and their history. As a proud parent of a LGBTQ+ person, I won't stop fighting against the unprecedented and unjust discrimination the LGBTQ+ community continues to face today."
Gothard told NBC News that one of the missions of this new visitor center is to connect young people with the legacy of Stonewall by capturing the essence of the era when the uprising took place over a half-century ago.
"If you've ever gone down and kind of just observed tourists visiting Stonewall Inn, you'll see that individuals of a certain age, because it's a bar, are not allowed to go in," she said. "So we really want to create a space that's welcoming for all, whether you represent the gay community or you're an ally."
As a bureau of the U.S. Department of the Interior, the National Park Service is responsible for preserving national parks.