ByMichael ValinskyOut Magazine

The Leslie-Lohman Museum for Gay & Lesbian Art has been a staple of New York’s SoHo neighborhood for as long as the city can remember. But it wasn’t always a museum. Back in 1969, after the Stonewall riots, the need for a safe space for the gay and lesbian community to gather was dire.

Charles Leslie, a performing artist, and Fritz Lohman, an interior designer, got together, both romantically and professionally, to set up an exhibition space in their loft in SoHo. The point was not only to exhibit the work of the community but also to provide an environment in which the voices of gay and lesbian individuals could be heard, broadcastedand discussed. As such, the duo created an oasis of LGBTQ art. “What they thought was going to be a small gallery opening became a big event where hundreds of people came in a weekend,” says newly appointed museum director, Gonzalo Casals. When the AIDS crisis hit the community in the ’80s, however, the stakes changed really fast. more>