Criminalizing Queerness: A Glimpse into Roosevelt Island’s Disturbing Past

Janes Walk

Led By Emma Dorfman, Life Jacket Theatre Company

Roosevelt Island is known today for its high-rise buildings and ample green spaces, but it once housed hundreds of men unjustly imprisoned in the Welfare Island Penitentiary for “lewd and offensive acts which offend the public decency”(NY Penal Law 722, Section 690). This Zoom tour will show you how these queer pioneers- gay men, trans women, and cross-dressers- lived and loved 100 years ago, despite the relentless persecution they met every day.


This will be a virtual walk activity led through Zoom. Therefore, there will be no required distance or route to walk. This will be a mostly virtual presentation combined with descriptions of the prison ward, various rooms within the ward, activities performed by the inmates, etc. Closed captioning will be provided throughout the tour so that every participant can fully experience the history of this storied island.

Location Information

RSVP is required and capacity is limited. Meeting location, ending location, and directions will be provided via email before walk date.


Saturday, May 8, 2021
6:00 PM
Less than one hour

Borough: Manhattan
Theme: History & Culture
Platform: On Zoom
Language: English