Founded in 2020, PBN’s Gay Places Initiative is dedicated to documenting, preserving, and celebrating LGBTQ historic sites in Western New York. Through the Initiative, we aim to focus on a more inclusive, holistic history that rejects the idea that gay history only happened in major coastal cities. On June 23, join Dr. Jeffry Iovannone, creator of “Gay Places with Dr. Jeff,” to learn about how a blog series highlighting the LGBTQ history associated with our existing historic built environment became so much more.
In addition to providing an update on PBN’s Gay Places Initiative, Dr. Iovannone will revisit one of the historic sites documented in the original Gay Places blog series, the Hotel Lenox, located at 140 North Street in Allentown. In 1981, gay Buffalonian Bob Uplinger was arrested near the Lenox for soliciting sex from an undercover police officer. With the assistance of local attorney William Gardner, Uplinger successfully fought the charges against him and, in a major legal victory, overturned the state’s solicitation ordinance.
Iovannone will argue that Uplinger’s arrest, and the larger campaign by the Buffalo Police Department to crack down on gay cruising and sex work in Allentown, must be understood within the broader context of Buffalo’s historic preservation movement, the founding of the Allentown Association, and the establishment of Allentown as a local preservation district in 1978 and a National Register district in 1980. Finally, he will situate historic Allentown buildings, such as 54 Irving Place, the Hotel Lenox, and the Williams-Butler Mansion, as key characters in the Uplinger story.