For Jordan Reeves, walking in the footsteps of LGBTQ activist pioneers was basically in the realm of the impossible. Early on in his life, connecting to the LGBTQ community wasn’t always acceptable, let alone accessible.
Growing up in a small town in Alabama, Jordan says he was detached from the LGBTQ community both socially and geographically.
“A coming-out story saved my life. I grew up in a small, conservative, religious town, and the stories of LGBTQ people were not a part of my education,” says Jordan. “I didn’t even know there was an LGBTQ community, much less that they had battled for equality for decades.”
Shortly after studying biology and theater at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Jordan came out and made the move to New York City, where he worked in media before starting his own venture, VideoOut, in 2016, a digital media platform with the mission to amplify the voices of LGBTQ people. However, when he started recording stories from the elders in the community, he realized that he didn’t know anything about the organizations and figures that built the foundation of LGBTQ equality in NYC so many years ago.
These stories are what ultimately inspired Jordan to share NYC’s history with locals and travelers through Airbnb Experiences, with the hopes that their exposure to the figureheads of LGBTQ history could encourage them to advocate for the community.
We have so much we can learn from them. For those reasons, my Airbnb Experience is timely. To walk on the same streets and sit in the same bars, to look at the buildings where they strategized and built community and to be able to walk through this city and retrace their footsteps – that’s an incredibly energizing experience.
Jordan Reeves, Airbnb Experience host
Walking through the streets of Manhattan, guests take an exciting journey to iconic places like the Stonewall Inn, where a series of demonstrations took place that helped spark the gay liberation movement. Jordan then leads guests to places that tell stories about the past, and provide context to where the LGBTQ community is today. In fact, much of its history in NYC is relatively recent. According to Jordan, it wasn’t until the 1960s that homosexuals were able to legally drink in dining establishments, activism began to pervade the city’s culture and LGBTQ artists began canvasing the city with their works.
Nowadays, Jordan tells us the Big Apple is a great place to live, but we still have a long way to go. He now advocates for many organizations dedicated to ending all forms of oppression, but is hopeful that this historical education can be a catalyst for action.
One of the greatest ways to immerse yourself in LGBTQ history, Jordan advises, is by attending NYC Pride – where tens of thousands of participants and millions of spectators descend on the city each June. In fact, Stonewall Inn proudly proclaims to be the birthplace of Pride, with the first LGBTQ Pride March taking place there in 1970, covering the 51 blocks to Central Park. Now, there are hundreds of events throughout the month, and almost every bar in the city joins in on the festivities.
If you’re coming to NYC for Pride, Jordan recommends checking out The March (of course), The Rally, Teaze, PrideFest, the Dance on the Pier, and that you join VideoOut at Brooklyn Brewery for SpeakOut: Stories of Pride.
“If you’re just in for Pride, don’t miss the history. The festivities are fun, but Pride started as a resistance – a march to demand equality,” says Jordan. “Go visit Stonewall Inn, Julius’, and The Greenwich Village Waterfront. Then, don’t miss out on amazing places like The Center and Henrietta Hudson.”