The name of Gay Street is very fitting to the nature and history of Greenwich Village, New York’s most famous home to the LGBTQ+ community. Just around the corner, on Christopher Street, stands the Stonewall National Monument, the site of the legendary riots that changed the world, revolutionizing the gay liberation movement and leading to the first Pride parade.
The street had been christened long before Greenwich Village became the Manhattan capital of LGBTQ+ culture. In fact, the records go back to the gay old times before the word “gay” had its current connotation. Evidently, it was already named Gay Street by 1827, possibly after a member of the Gay family who lived in the neighborhood. Apart from that, its true etymology remains uncertain.
Today, the street is merely a block-long strip sandwiched by Waverly Place and Christopher Street, drawing little attention from tourists or locals. Even if they notice the name on the sign, most people would assume that it must be named after Greenwich Village’s gay community, simple as that and nothing more. If you are a fan of 80s music, it may be a familiar site worth looking around—this is where Cyndi Lauper danced at the beginning of the music video for “Girls Just Want to Have Fun,” after all.