78th Street & 37th Avenue, Queens

On July 2, 1990, Julio Rivera, a 29-year-old Jackson Heights resident, was attacked by three gang members in the playground of P.S. 69 because of his sexual orientation. He died from his wounds at Elmhurst Hospital, and his death sparked a surge in LGBTQ activism in Queens. While there had been many more hate crimes toward gay people in Queens over the previous few decades, the vigil for Rivera on August 18, 1990, was considered to be Queens’ first successful LGBTQ public demonstration. The vigil, organized by Rivera’s family and friends and a coalition of LGBTQ activists and organizations, led to other advocacy efforts, including the formation of Queens Gays and Lesbians United, the Lesbian and Gay Democratic Club of Queens, Queens Pride House and the organization of two more demonstrations to pressure then-Mayor David Dinkins to publicly acknowledge Rivera’s death. As a result of that advocacy, Rivera’s death became the first gay hate crime to be tried in New York State. Since 1993, this corner has been included on the route of the Queens Pride Parade, and in 2000, a street sign was installed in honor of Julio Rivera. Photo by Christopher D. Brazee/NYC LGBTQ Historic Sites Project.