Looking Back

Since the Stonewall Uprising of 1969, NYU has had its own evolution in recognizing, embracing, and supporting the LGBTQ+ community. Here are selected highlights from the past 50 years.

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NYU's queer student organization was not formally recognized by the University. In 1970, the group is provided with physical space by the University in the Loeb Student Center​​. It is ​formally recognized as a University-sponsored student organization under the name Gay People’s Union ​(GPU) when the student organization recognition process begins ​in 1976.

Entrance to the Gay People Union during the 1970s. Courtesy of New York University Archives


Gay liberationists hold a five-day sit-in at Weinstein Residence Hall to protest the University’s cancelling of gay dances there.

After the sit-in, Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson, two drag queens, founded STAR, the Street Transvestites Action Revolutionaries, to provide housing and support to homeless queer and transgender youth.


NYU Langone Medical Center is among the first medical centers in the United States to care for people with AIDS and continues to be in the forefront of AIDS care and research.

Gay People's Union meets with the University Senate in May 1982. Photo Courtesy of New York University Archives.


NYU Office of Student Life and NYU Student Health Service launch the first University-wide AIDS Education/Safer Sex Campaign in response to the AIDS crisis. The Gay and Lesbian Union lobbies for and gets approval for the installation of condom machines in all residence-hall laundry rooms on campus and in the game room in the Loeb Student Center.


Student Senators Tom Hickey (NYU Law and then-president of Gay and Lesbian Union) and Tom Kirdahy (WSC/NYU Law and then-chairperson of the Student Senators Council) introduce to the University Senate a resolution to include sexual orientation as part of the NYU Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Policy, which passes. This paves the way for the LGBTQ+ community at NYU to seek other forms of recognition, including domestic partner benefits.

NYU students protesting for equal opportunity and affirmative action. Photo Courtesy of New York University Archives.


The All-Square Student Budget Allocation Committee (a student government committee) funds the planning committee for Pride Month, and the first official Pride Month at NYU is held in October 1986.


Thomas Sokolowski, director of the Grey Art Gallery, co-founds Visual AIDS with art critic and writer Robert Atkins and fellow curators Gary Garrels and William Olander as an organization that promotes art to fight AIDS by provoking dialogue, supporting HIV+ artists, and preserving the artists' legacy.


The Association of Lesbian and Gay Faculty, Administrators, and Staff (ALGFAS) at NYU is founded to lobby the University for domestic partner benefits.

Tony Kushner's, “Angels in America”. Joan Marcus/Photofest


Tony Kushner's (TSOA ‘84) play, “Angels in America: Perestroika,” is presented in workshop at the Tisch School of the Arts, Graduate Acting Program. Debra Messing (TSOA ‘93) wins acclaim for her role. Michael Mayer (TSOA ‘83) directs.

Through the leadership of the Association of Lesbian and Gay Faculty, Administrators, and Staff (ALGFAS), and after heated debate in the University Senate, the NYU Board of Trustees approves domestic partner benefits for faculty, administrators, and staff.


The Office of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Student Services (renamed LGBTQ Student Center in 2011) opens at 21 Washington Place as part of the Office of Student Activities.


The Moving Up Day Awards are launched through the Office of LGBT Student Services to recognize LGBTQ+ and ally student, faculty, community members, and organizations for their leadership and dedication to the LGBTQ​​+ community. The ceremony also recognizes members of the NYU graduating class.


The Safe Zone curriculum and program are initiated at NYU. Safe Zone is designed to create visible allies to the LGBTQ+ community through a training program that would provide participants with the skills and resources to support the LGBTQ+ community.

The Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality at New York University (CSGS) is established, with Professor Carolyn Dinshaw as its founding director. Professor Dinshaw serves as director of CSGS and the Gender and Sexuality Studies Program from 1999-2005. 


T-Party (NYU’s student organization for transgender, nonbinary, gender non-conforming, gender questioning, and other gender-diverse students and allies) hosts its first event as a student organization through the Office of LGBT Student Services.


When the Kimmel Center for University Life opens its doors in 2003, the Office of LGBT Student Services has its own physical space for the first time.


"Gender identity and expression" is added as a protected group under NYU's nondiscrimination policy.

NYU students attend NY(Drag)U. Courtesy of Photo Bureau.


The first iteration of gender-inclusive housing begins at NYU. Students can indicate a gender​-identity assignment option on the housing application.

The Beta Xi chapter of Delta Lambda Phi, a national fraternity for gay, bisexual, and progressive men, is officially chartered at NYU.


Edith Windsor (GSAS ‘57), along with her partner, Thea Clara Spyer, is featured as the cover story in the fall edition of NYU Alumni Magazine, in an article detailing her fight for marriage equality.


The Outspoken Peer Education Program through the NYU LGBTQ Student Center develops the first iteration of the Gender Neutral Bathroom Map (currently known as the All Gender Restroom Map).


Edith Windsor and John Sexton

Edith Windsor is awarded the University's Presidental Award at the 181st Commencement Ceremony at Yankee Stadium. © Gallo: Courtesy of Photo Bureau


At the 181st Commencement ceremony, held at Yankee Stadium, Edith Windsor (GSAS ‘57) is awarded the University's Presidential Medal. A crowd of over 30,000 cheers for her courage and representation in United States vs. Windsor. One month later, the U.S. Supreme Court rules in her favor and strikes down the Defense of Marriage Act.


Residential Life and Housing Services expands gender-inclusive housing options for all upperclass students. Residents can indicate a preference to live with room/suitemates regardless of their legal sex.


The University's student information system, Albert, allows students to choose from gender-identity options; man-identified, woman-identified, and gender non-conforming.


​In an evolving process over many years, NYU facilitates preferred first, middle, and/or last names for students in an increasing number of University contexts, including the student information system, NYU ID cards, and, in 2019, student diplomas.