In 1991, the Organization of Lesbian and Gay Architects + Designers (OLGAD) was formed in New York City, originally as a networking collective for job-seeking, political activism, employment harassment support, queer design discourse, and recognition of design contributions from LGBT architects and designers. The national organization’s mission was to reclaim lost history by identifying and recognizing lesbian and gay architects throughout history, identify spaces and places that have significance in the history of lesbian and gay movements, and analyze and define “queer design.” To commemorate the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion in New York City, OLGAD organized Design Pride ’94, the first International Lesbian and Gay Design Conference, in partnership with Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS (DIFFA) and the Elsie de Wolfe Foundation. The exhibit, Design Legacies: A Tribute to Architects and Designers Who Have Died of AIDS, celebrated the talent and contributions of people who lost their lives at the height of their careers.
One of OLGAD’s most well-known public advocacy efforts was A Guide to Lesbian & Gay New York Historical Landmarks, a foldout map of historic lesbian and gay sites in Greenwich Village, Midtown, and Harlem published in 1994. The map broadened the public’s knowledge of LGBTQ place-based history beyond Stonewall. Former OLGAD members Andrew Dolkart and Jay Shockley, along with historian David Carter, through the auspices of Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, wrote the nomination of Stonewall, which was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1999 and designated a National Historic Landmark in 2000. It was the first and only LGBT-associated site recognized by the federal government for over ten years. Those two listings helped pave the way for the 2016 designation of the Stonewall National Monument by President Obama.
Evolving out of the OLGAD map, preservation committee members Andrew Dolkart, Ken Lustbader, and Jay Shockley officially launched the New York City LGBT Historic Sites Project in August 2015. The project includes a selection of sites from the 1994 map on its interactive website, which covers the five boroughs of New York City with over 140 locations associated with LGBT history. The project is an important resource for the long-unknown history of queer spaces in New York City.