Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today called for the Cherry Grove Community House and Theatre to be placed on the National Register of Historic Places. Located on Fire Island, this historic site provided one of the first settings for collective gay identity to openly appear in our nation’s history.
“The Cherry Grove Community House represents the first civic entity to integrate gay and lesbian interests into governance and social life,” said Senator Gillibrand. “This historic organization is the first civil rights organization for the LGBT community and should be acknowledged for their contributions.”
“We are honored and tremendously thrilled,” said Diane Romano, president of the Cherry Grove Community Association which owns and operates the house. “The Community House has been the heart and soul of Cherry Grove for more than six decades and holds a unique and iconic place in the lives of gay men and women everywhere. We are so grateful to U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand who championed our nomination as a milestone in gay history from the very beginning.”
At the time of the Community House and Theater’s establishment in 1948, it was headquartered as the Cherry Grove Property Owners Association, and there weren’t civil rights organization specifically dedicated to the advocacy of LGBT Rights. In 1948, the Cherry Grove Community House played a major role in the development of gay performing arts and initiated the first American venue to feature productions by gay people for gay and straight audiences.
The Cherry Grove site contributes to a greater understanding of civil rights movements as an evolutionary process towards change and represents a rare and exceptionally significant chapter in the struggle for gay and lesbian civil rights in the United States today.
Senator Gillibrand’s letter is attached.