• From Diva's to the Pyramid
    Annie Howard

Annie Howard, “Shuttered Pyramid Club,” New York, 2023. Digital photograph. Courtesy the author

This research locates trans history and its political struggles using two case studies: Diva’s, a bar in San Francisco that catered to trans women from 1989 to 2019, and the Pyramid Club, a drag-centric club in Manhattan that operated from 1979 to 2020. Despite their vital roles in sustaining trans social formations, both venues permanently closed in the past four years, leaving decades of community memory at risk of disappearing. Trans people have battled social exclusion through collective gathering in specific physical locales. From Diva's to the Pyramid works to reconstitute vital scenes of trans political organizing, articulating the importance of architectural preservation as a form of community formation. Through oral history, archival research, written articles, and the reissuing of music created on New York’s Lower East Side in the 1990s, this project expands our historic understanding of trans identities as they emerged in specific urban spaces.

Annie Howard is a journalist, historian, urbanist, organizer, and trans woman based in Chicago. Her written work has appeared in print and online in a medley of publications, including the Baffler, the GuardianChicago Reader, Lapham's Quarterly, Architect magazine, Boston Review, and more. Howard completed her undergraduate study at Northwestern University with a degree in journalism and history, and also holds a master's in urban planning and policy from the University of Illinois at Chicago. In addition to her writing, Howard also works as a housing organizer with the Chicago Housing Justice Coalition, attempting to bring Just Cause for Eviction—a major policy strengthening tenants’ rights—to the city of Chicago. Her current writing focus explores the ways in which queer and trans people, amongst other marginalized communities, have created space under adverse circumstances in cities. She begins an MFA in creative nonfiction at Northwestern University in September 2024.