In the 80’s & 90’s there was a section of the West Side Highway known as The Piers. You took the 1 train and got off on Christopher Street.  Starting at 7th Avenue/Sheridan Square you walked to the piers. That whole strip was filled with men of all ages and of color. It was a place where the majority of us black and Latino gay children found identity. It was a safe space where we were able to walk however we wanted and not worry of being scrutinized, chased, beaten, made fun off just because we were gay. It was little strip that consisted of only 4 blocks that we learned who we were. These 4 blocks were lined with Momma & Poppa stores, little bars and lots of gays! We would hang out to the wee hours, walking up and down these 4 blocks meeting and greeting, twitching and sashaying. At a certain time (because there was no curfew) we all would end up at the pier. It was here that we congregated and socialized in great numbers. Cars would be lined up and parked, their doors and windows open blasting house music. It was like a club but out in the open. There would be dancing battles of voguing going on. The outfits would be displayed like a huge runway show. Everyone dressing as impeccable as they can. This is where us children of color and absolutely gay went to identify. It made no difference if you were trans or very feminine or just straight butch this is where you formed family. No one dared to hurt us or hunt us as a thrill or to put a nitch in their hetero tree. It was during this era that I grew up in. where I learned resilience and learned how to have pride in who I was. It was at the Piers that I made friendships that would help me with the ard times of being an outed make latino man in a time that it was really a matter of life or death when you walked out in the street being who you was with no boundaries.


This was an era I would never change in my life and when I go down memory lane it brings me utmost happiness.  




  1. Kenia · January 30, 2017

    This refugee arrived in NYC in 1970. I was barely 9, and already knew I was not like the other little girls in my family. I clearly remember one time that an uncle took us for a drive around the West Village; he called it “el barrio de los hippies.” There were hippies, sure, but there were also gay people. I just knew! I could tell! And right then, I knew everything was going to be all right.

    Love ya! /kenia


  2. Kenia · January 30, 2017

    … and yes, I remember the piers, the music, the children! Lesbians would hang out in Washington Square Park on the 6th Avenue side, and take the stroll down 4th Street to Christopher, as the sun came down. So glad to have grown up in NY. xoxo /kenia


    • chulisi · January 30, 2017

      Yesssss. That was like the thing to do when hanging out out there.


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