History buff Michael Venturiello originally planned on writing a book, but instead took his storytelling to the street.
“We are in Christopher Park, which is part of the Stonewall National Monument which was created in 2016,” Venturiello said, while walking through the park.
What started as a side hustle giving tours on LGBTQ+ history in the city five years ago — became Christopher Street Tours.
“I moved to New York city and wanted to come on a tour like this one and [was] surprised that there wasn’t like one in the way that I wanted to create it,” he said.
He teaches New Yorkers and tourists about the landmarks in the modern gay civil rights movement.
“They can come learn about this history see themselves represented, which personally I believe is a lifesaving resource,” he said.
He says he wishes something like this was available to him when he was growing up in upstate New York.
“It wasn’t until much later that I came out in life,” he said. “To see myself represented in history, to see myself represented in these stories that wasn’t for me until college.”
Venturiello is too young to have been here at the Stonewall Inn in 1969 when patrons rose against police oppression. The Stonewall Uprising, six days of protest that helped spark the gay rights initiative, a movement that continues.
“We’re having very similar conversations today in 2023 and LGBTQ people being their true authentic self and being allowed to do that,” he said.
As the weather heats up — so do his tours. Venturiello has four per week starting this month. The landmarks draw people in on their own.
Kevin Vondruska was visiting from Florida.
“Stonewall reminds me that even with all the anti LGBTQ legislation in Florida that there are still people wanting to fight and our fight is not over,” Vondruska said.
Venturiello says this fight is his calling.
“It’s my greatest honor in life to tell these stories and give back to the community in this way. It’s so much bigger than me, it is much bigger than ourselves to uplift these voices,” he said.