Lorraine Hansberry Residence is now a National Historic Site


‘Raisin in the Sun’ playwright honored for her work and support of the LGBTQ + community during her lifetime

The New York home of the indelible playwright and activist Lorraine Hansberry is now officially listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Although she kept her sexuality private throughout her life, Hansberry regularly broached LGBTQ + topics in her writing and had romantic relationships with women.

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The designation of her home as a historic site follows advocacy efforts by the New York LGBT Historic Sites Project.

“Paying homage to the very place where Lorraine Hansberry lived and worked through these lists of state and national registers marks another important step in our mission to highlight the contributions of LGBT people to American history,” said Amanda davis, Project Manager, NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project in a press release.

Lorraine Hansberry Residence. Credit: Christopher D. Brazee / New York LGBT Historic Sites Project, 2020

The Chicago-born writer is best known for her play A grape in the sun which premiered on Broadway in 1959. The title of the play derives from a line from the poem “Harlem” by Langston hughes.

Hansberry bonded with other writers and artists who were part of the LGBTQ + community, including James baldwin and Nina simone. She worked on the piece in her apartment at 337 Bleecker Street in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village – a place where many historic events took place, including the Stonewall Uprising in 1969. She lived in the apartment from 1953 to 1960, according to the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project.

“Hansberry’s active involvement in the civil rights movement and his influential writings on gender expectations and being a lesbian in 1950s America make him a stimulating figure for our time,” he said. added Davis. “The proximity of the Lorraine Hansberry Residence and Stonewall National Monument also provides an invaluable opportunity for tours and school groups to broaden their understanding of LGBT history beyond the Stonewall Uprising of 1969.”

Portrait of Lorraine Hansberry in her apartment on Bleecker Street, 1959. Photo by David Attie for Vogue Magazine.  Source: National Portrait Gallery.

Portrait of Lorraine Hansberry in her apartment on Bleecker Street, 1959. Photo by David Attie for Vogue Magazine. Source: National Portrait Gallery.

In recent years, researchers have learned more about Hansberry’s life. She contributed to the The scale magazine which was the first nationally distributed lesbian magazine in the country, and many of these writings have been cited by journalists and academics, along with its newspaper articles.

In one of his Ladder songs, Hansberry says: “What should be clear is that you are oppressed or discriminated against because you are different, not ‘bad’ or ‘bad’ from. one way or another.

People can view archive photos, video documentaries, and learn more about Hansberry on the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project website.

Read more: Illinois Passes Bill Requiring All Public Schools to Teach LGBTQ History

“For many students across the country, Lorraine Hansberry A grape in the sun is a first introduction to theater and dramatic writing. The author’s too brief life is not included in many programs, ”said the commissioner of the NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. Erik Kulleseid.

“The listing of Hansberry’s residence in the NYS and national records adds to the scholarship of his life as a gay author in the 1950s and 1960s.”

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