Based on remarkably true events, The Gorgeous Nothings is a fantastical play that reconstructs the extraordinary, campy, and sometimes heartbreaking history of a group of homosexuals unjustly imprisoned and quarantined on New York City’s Welfare Island (later renamed Roosevelt Island) during the 1930s for committing “lewd and unnatural acts which offend the public decency” (Penal Law 722, Section 690, of the State of New York).

Blending historical fact and inventive fiction, this play pulls us backwards in time to reveal a rich and complex tapestry of rare and reconstructed historical trial transcripts, court records, arrest warrants, personal diaries and letters, and archival prison documents. This play tells the forgotten story of a community of fearless and fabulous pioneers who led a silent but fierce revolution, bravely building the foundation of what we know as the modern gay liberation movement.

“The gay world that flourished before World War II has been almost entirely forgotten in popular memory and overlooked by professional historians; it is not supposed to have existed.” (George Chauncey, Gay New York)

Historical photographs from private collections (Sébastien Lifshitz & Arthur Fellig) and the New York Daily News.

Research Team: Kyle Cherry, Andrew Dawson, Angela Dohrmann, Anthony Dvarskas, Scott Ebersold, Colby Frederick. Ashley Hamilton, Daniel Hurewitz, Jessica Kahkoska, Matt Kelly, Ashley Marinaccio, Derek McNally, Carrie O'Dell, Nicholas Orvis, Daniel Rattner, Travis Russ, Zach Shultz, Lauren Sullivan, Roniel Tessler, Linnea Valdivia, Rachel Whorton, and Emma Wilk.