Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Sip-in

Last night BV and I attended a talk at Jefferson Market Library to commemorate the upcoming 50th anniversary of an early instance of gay activism in New York City.

"Fifty years ago a person could be refused service in a bar simply for being gay, and his or her mere presence there could result in the bar’s closure by the State Liquor Authority. On April 21, 1966, Dick Leitsch and other members of the Mattachine Society, an early LGBT rights organization, staged the now famous Sip-In at Julius’ bar in the Village to challenge this “legal” discrimination. After they announced to the bartender that they were homosexuals and wished to be served, they were refused service. The event generated publicity and was one of the earliest acts of organized LGBT civil disobedience in New York City. Scholars of LGBT history consider the Sip-In at Julius’ as a key event leading to the growth of legitimate LGBT bars and the development of the bar as the central social space for urban LGBT New Yorkers" (from the website of the Greenwich Village Society for Historical Preservation, the organizer of the event).

One of the three men, Dick Leitsch, was present and spoke touchingly, and humorously, about the nearly accidental way in which he became an activist. Originally from Kentucky, all he wanted to do was to find love, sex, and domesticity, but was drawn into the Mattachine Society for its sociability. At some point, enough was enough, and as the 29-year-old President of the society masterminded the 'sip-in'. Also present were Andrew Dolkart, Ken Lustbader, and Jay Shockley of the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project who talked about  their recent efforts to have the site, and others important to LGBT history, designated a NYC landmark. Only NYC Landmark Designation can ensure the preservation of the site and prevent demolition or inappropriate alterations.

You can support their efforts:

1. Send a letter calling for NYC Landmark Designation for Julius' - go to gvshp.org/juliusbar.

2. Buy a high-quality glossy estate stamped silver gelatin print of the Julius' 'Sip-in' by Fred W. McDarrah, with proceeds supporting the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation.




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