The Firehouse

Headquarters of the Gay Activists Alliance 1971-74

The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center

Gay Activists Alliance (GAA) Firehouse (20th Century) by Richard C. WandelThe Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center

A Home for GAA

Founded in 1969, the Gay Activists Alliance established its headquarters on Wooster Street in 1971. The former SoHo firehouse hosted meetings, art installations, weekly Saturday night dance parties organised by the "Pleasure Committee," and "Firehouse Flicks," a Friday night film screening. It quickly became New York's center for LGBT activity in the early 1970s. 

"GAA Finds A Home" Gay Activists Alliance newsletter 1971The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center

This article appeared in the second issue of the Gay Activists Alliance newsletter, from May 1971.

Opening of the Gay Activists Alliance Firehouse, 99 Wooster Street, 1971 (1971-06) by Richard C. WandelThe Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center

Opening Party

The Firehouse officially opened on June 20th, 1971. The party featured a mural created by John Button and Mario Dubsky.

Gay Activists Alliance Installation of Firehouse Mural, 1971, Richard C. Wandel, 1971-06, From the collection of: The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center
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Gay Activists Alliance Installation of Firehouse Mural, 1971, Richard C. Wandel, 1971-06, From the collection of: The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center
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Gay Activists Alliance Installation of Firehouse Mural, 1971, Richard C. Wandel, 1971-06, From the collection of: The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center
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Gay Activists Alliance Installation of Firehouse Mural, 1971, Richard C. Wandel, 1971-06, From the collection of: The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center
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Gay Activists Alliance Fire House Fashion Show, 1971 (1971-06-20) by Richard C. WandelThe Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center

The party also featured a fashion show.

Gay Activists Alliance Firehouse Official Opening Fashion Show, 1971 (1971-06-20) by Richard C. WandelThe Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center

Gay Pride Fashion Show, 1971 (1971-06-20) by Richard C. WandelThe Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center

Gay Activists Alliance Fire House Official Opening, 1971 (1971-06-20) by Richard C. WandelThe Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center

Actions & Zaps

Gay Activists Alliance meetings were a platform to plan protest actions such as sit-ins and picket lines. The GAA's most famous type of action was the "zap," a surprise confrontation with a public figure regarding LGBT rights. Through this direct activism, the GAA lobbied for a ban on police harassment, fair employment, and the repeal of laws that made sodomy illegal.

Dance at the Gay Activists Alliance Firehouse, 1971, Richard C. Wandel, 1971, From the collection of: The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center
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Hernan Figueroa and Richard Wandel at Gay Activists Alliance Firehouse, 1971, Richard C. Wandel, 1971-12, From the collection of: The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center
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Gay Activists Alliance Firehouse, 1971, Richard C. Wandel, 1971, From the collection of: The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center
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Gay Activists Alliance Firehouse, 1971 (1971) by Richard C. WandelThe Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center

Resistance

One of the missions of the GAA was to challenge police harassment of gay establishments. While the Firehouse itself was sometimes on the receiving end of such attention, the GAA was effective in fighting back, and as a result other LGBT venues began to flourish around the city. 

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