1966 April 21

Gay Rights “Sip-In” at Julius Bar, NYC


Three years before the Stonewall Inn Riots (June 28, 1969), which spurred the growth of a national lesbian and gay rights movement, gay rights activists with the Mattachine Society held a “sip-in” on this day in support of gay rights. (The Mattachine Society (founded on November 11, 1950). The New York Times headline for the story the next day read, “3 Deviates Invite Exclusion by Bars.”

The group’s plan was to convene at the Ukrainian-American Village Hall, a bar on St. Marks Place, at noon. But the owner was tipped off and closed the bar early and posted a sign, “If you are gay, please stay away.”

The group then moved on to the Dom, a bar/nightclub, and then the Howard Johnson’s on 8th Avenue. The waitress was flustered by an openly gay group, but the manager served them drinks on the house. They then went to the Tiki bar, where they were also served free drinks, further frustrating their plan to be denied service because they were gay. The next stop was Julius’ bar, a popular hangout for homosexuals and also the scene of entrapment of gay men (one had just occurred the night before). They were served, but when they were served they announced that they were gay and the bartender promptly put his hand over the glass. A photograph of that moment was taken by the famed Greenwich Village photographer Fred W. McDarrrah (and it was published in the April 21, 2016 New York Times).

On April 21, 2016, participants in the sip-in celebrated the 50th anniversary of the event. The day before, April 20, 2016, Julius’ bar was added to the National Registry of Historic Places. The New York Times published a long story on April 21, 2016 to mark the celebration.

Watch a video on the sip-in: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pSf7gZb8JIY

Read about the history of the GLBT revolution: Lillian Faderman, The Gay Revolution: The Story of the Struggle (2015)

Read a history of the lesbian and gay rights movement: Dudley Clendinin and Adam Nagourney, Out for Good: The Struggle to Build a Gay Rights Movement in America (1999)

Learn more: Vern Bullough, Before Stonewall: Activists for Gay and Lesbian Rights in Historical Context (2002)

Visit the GLBT Historical Society and Museum in San Francisco: http://www.glbthistory.org/

Learn more at a valuable documentary history: Jonathan Katz, ed., Gay American History: Lesbian and Gay Men in American History, A Documentary (1976)

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