Stonewall 50 Ofrenda

In honor of the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, viewed by many as the beginning of the modern LGBTQ civil rights movement, this ofrenda honors heroes who have made significant contributions to the LGBTQ community.

Each hero is represented by a unique retablo.

A retablo is traditionally a devotional painting or small sculpture using iconography derived from Catholic church art. In many Catholic churches, retablos are seen above an altar. Sometimes they are a large altarpiece, painting or an elaborate wooden structure with sculptures and an elaborate framework enclosing the altarpiece.

Many people keep small retablos in their homes as devotional or votive objects. Retablos often illustrate holy images such as Christ, the Virgin Mother, or one of hundreds of saints. Many depict the story that led to their commission -- usually dangerous or threatening events that the person survived, thanks to the intercession of a sacred person. These retablos are made as a way of expressing gratitude.

These retablos might be seen as honoring LGBTQ heroes as “secular saints.” The retablos were created to honor these individuals for their visibility and their work within the LGBTQ civil rights movement or their contributions that help our community thrive today. Each retablo tries to give a sense of the honoree’s story, work or personality.

Stonewall 50 - LGBTQ History Project

Online Gallery

Below, explore these memorials in honor of our LGBTQ "secular saints."

ACT UP

AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP) is an international direct action advocacy group working to impact the lives of people with AIDS. The group demanded that government officials address the AIDS epidemic. Through protest, the group was instrumental in bringing about legislation, medical research and treatment and [...]

Alan L. Hart

1890-1962

Alan L. Hart was an American physician, radiologist, tuberculosis researcher, writer and novelist. He pioneered the use of x-ray photography in tuberculosis detection, and helped implement TB screening programs that saved thousands of lives.

Hart graduated from Albany College (now Lewis & Clark College) in 1912, and in [...]

Alvin Ailey, Jr.

1931-1989

Alvin Ailey Jr. was an internationally acclaimed dancer and choreographer. He founded the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, a dance company hailed as an ambassador of American culture. Ailey formed a multiracial company and revolutionized dance, incorporating elements of ballet and jazz, along with modern and African [...]

Audre Lorde

1934-1992

Audre Lorde was a writer and activist who was born in New York City and started writing poetry in her early teens. Her first poem was published by Seventeen magazine when she was still in high school.

She described herself as a “black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet” and dedicated [...]

Barbara Gittings

1932-2007

Barbara Gittings is regarded as the mother of the LGBT civil rights movement.

In the 1950s gay activism was in its infancy. “There were scarcely 200 of us in the whole United States,” Gittings said of her fellow crusaders. “It was like a club—we all knew each other.”

Although Gittings [...]

Barbara Hammer

1939-2019

Barbara Hammer was born in Hollywood, California. She was a visual artist working primarily in film and video. She made over 80 moving image works in a career that spanned 40 years. She is considered a pioneer of queer cinema. She created experimental films dealing with women’s issues [...]

Bayard Rustin
1910-1987

Bayard Rustin was the chief organizer for Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. of the 1963 civil rights march on Washington. Rustin’s expertise in nonviolent direct action assisted King in shaping the African-American Civil Rights movement.

Bayard Rustin was raised in West Chester, Pennsylvania by Quaker grandparents who espoused [...]

Billy Tipton

1914-1989

William Lee Tipton was an American jazz musician, bandleader, and talent broker. For decades, Tipton assumed a male gender identity. Tipton’s female birth sex was not publicly revealed until after his death, and the revelation came as a surprise to family and friends.

Tipton grew up in Kansas City, [...]

Brenda Howard
1946-2005

Brenda Howard was an LGBT activist. She organized the first Pride parade and is known as the “Mother of Pride.”

Born in the Bronx, Howard was raised on Long Island. In the 1960s, she became involved in the anti-war and feminist movements.

One month after the 1969 Stonewall riots that [...]

Carlos Amaraz

1941-1989

Carlos Almaraz was born in Mexico City in 1949 and grew up in Chicago and Los Angeles. He studied at the University of California, Los Angeles, and later earned a Master of Fine Arts degree from Otis College of Art and Design in 1974. In 1973, Almaraz and [...]

Carrie Ann Lucas

1971-2019

Carrie Ann Lucas was a lawyer, disability rights advocate, and activist in the United States. She founded Disabled Parents Rights, an organization to fight discrimination against parents with disabilities. In addition to fighting for parents’ rights in Colorado and nationally, she also worked to combat “right to [...]

Christine Jorgensen 

1926-1989

Christine Jorgensen, a U.S. Army veteran and Bronx native, was the first American woman to publicly announce her gender reassignment surgery. Her transition was the subject of a New York Daily News front-page story. She became an instant celebrity, using the platform to advocate for transgender people and [...]

Craig Rodwell

1940-1993

Craig L. Rodwell was an American gay rights activist known for founding the Oscar Wilde Memorial Bookshop in 1967, the first bookstore devoted to gay and lesbian authors, and as the prime mover for the creation of the New York City pride demonstration. Rodwell is considered to be [...]

Dainna Cicotello

1948-2018

Dainna served our country in the US Navy for over a decade. She transitioned in 1978. Over the years, she served the Denver community by presenting at panels, trainings and by doing consulting work on transgender-related issues. Dainna taught classes at several trans-themed conferences such as the International [...]

David Bowie

1947-2016

Alvin Ailey Jr. was an internationally acclaimed dancer and choreographer. He founded the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, a dance company hailed as an ambassador of American culture. Ailey formed a multiracial company and revolutionized dance, incorporating elements of ballet and jazz, along with modern and African dance, [...]

Del Martin

1921-2008

Del Martin was in the forefront of the battle for lesbian and gay rights for more than 50 years. After a brief early marriage, she found that she was attracted to women. Martin and her partner, Phyllis Lyon, founded the first advocacy group for lesbians, Daughters of Bilitis, [...]