Remembering the Black Cat

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February 1967 | Black Cat/USC Digital Archive | tc17031

Two years before the Stonewall riots in New York City, Silver Lake in Los Angeles was the epicenter of a gay rights protest movement of its own. In February 1967, demonstrators at the Black Cat Tavern,, 3909 W Sunset Blvd., took a stand and pushed back against anti-LGBT forces, and a rally was held there yesterday to commemorate the events of 1967 and continue the movement today.

The Black Cat Tavern had been open for only two months when a party on New Year’s Eve, 1966 was raided by undercover officers who infiltrated the party and, when they saw same-sex couples kissing at midnight, police began a flurry of arrests. 14 patrons of the bar were arrested for “assault and public lewdness” and the police physically beat several of the individuals. A riot broke out and spilled into the street and neighboring bars.

After the raid, organizers met to begin planning a large demonstration to be held at the Black Cat. The then-new PRIDE organization began publishing a newsletter called The Advocate where they disseminated details of the gathering; the Advocate has published ever since.

On February 11, 1967, an estimated 300 to 600 protestors surrounded the Black Cat in what would be remembered as a tense but ultimately peaceful protest against homophobic laws and police brutality. The event marked a turning point for the local gay rights movement and part of a growing trend of LGBT resistance.

https://www.timeout.com/los-angeles/blog/commemorate-a-milestone-of-local-lgbt-history-this-weekend-at-the-black-cat-tavern-020917


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Islington gets a gay archive

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Highbury Fields, 1971. Picture: Islington Local History Centre | 16460ga

A new LGBT archive is being created in Islington, London, a borough steeped with LGBT history. Today Islington council launched an appeal for people to scour their homes for LGBT memorabilia – photos, posters, flyers etc – to build the archive, which is likely to be housed at Islington Museum in St John Street.

150 brave campaigners held Britain’s first ever gay rights protest in November 1970 in Highbury Fields. A torchlight rally was organised by the Gay Liberation Front in response to the arrest of Louis Eakes in the Fields. Mr Eakes, of the Young Liberals, was detained for cruising several men in a police entrapment operation. Mr Eakes claimed he was asking them for a light.

http://www.islingtongazette.co.uk/news/heritage/highbury_fields_gay_rights_demo_was_a_watershed_moment_islington_museum_to_set_up_first_lgbt_archive_1_4729260

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The Royal Vauxhall Tavern, London

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Chris Helgren/Reuters | 15362

The Royal Vauxhall Tavern was built in 1863 at Spring Gardens, Kennington Lane, on land which was originally part of the Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens and was originally a music hall. It seems to have been a local gay pub ever since it opened as a public house. After the second world war it became associated with drag acts, with performances from Hinge and Bracket, Regina Fong and Lily Savage. On one occasion Princess Diana went there dressed as a man.

On 8 September 2015, in an attempt to save it from being closed by new owners and the site re-developed, the Royal Vauxhall Tavern was made a grade II listed building – the first building in the UK to be listed in recognition of its importance to LGBT community history. This followed a campaign supported by Boris Johnson, Sir Ian McKellen, Paul O’Grady and others.

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/09/09/this-london-pub-just-made-gay-history-but-can-it-be-saved.html

http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2013/03/31/freddie-mercury-dressed-princess-diana-in-drag-to-sneak-her-into-a-gay-bar/


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Remembering Rehoboth, Delaware’s Gay Beach

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A Reboboth postcard, possibly 1970s | Delaware Public | 15192

Reheboth, Delaware was a popular holiday destination for gay men from Washington, DC, Philadelphia and Baltimore in the 1970s and 1980s. Rehoboth, which had gay bars like The Renegade and an entire section of its beach unofficially exclusively gay, quickly became a favorite destination. Discos operated until the wee hours of the morning, but there was also a year-round gay community there who experienced the tragedy of HIV/AIDS, and mobilized around a hate crime in the 1990s, to fight for their rights.

It was pretty amazing, you would drive through on Route 50 and get to Annapolis. [You’d think], Oh my god, when are we gonna get there? And hit the Bay Bridge! And then the relief. It was almost as if it was a weather phenomenon that would take over, the relief that would come over your body. And [you’d] say, “I’m on my way to the beach, where I can be me….The gay area was south of what’s now, we call Poodle Beach. We’d have to go across the Carpenter Beach, the Dupont area, into a no man’s land, and that’s where we all would pitch our chairs and have our time to sun and have a good time.”

– Steve Elkins.

http://delawarepublic.org/post/history-matters-delawares-gay-beach


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Remembering Philadelphia, 1965

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July 4, 1965 | Location: Philadelphia, US | Photographer unstated | The Mattachine Society and The Equality Forum/Associated Press | 15167

Fifty years ago a small demonstration took place for gay rights, in Philadelphia. It was one of the first actions of the modern gay rights movement.

About 40 protesters calling for equality gathered in front of Independence Hall in Philadelphia on July 5, 1965.

Seen as an incredibly bold and courageous move by the standards of the day,1965 was when homosexuals were legally barred from US government jobs and could be arrested for engaging in consensual intimate acts even in the privacy of their own homes. The American Psychiatric Association still classified being gay as a disease that could be treated with chemical castration or lobotomy.

“Fifty years ago, America perceived us as degenerates,” said Malcolm Lazin, who organized the anniversary events. “One of the many goals of the gay pioneers was to demonstrate that we are first class American citizens.”

http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/gay-rights-activists-mark-landmark-1965-demonstration-32226771

http://www.lgbtqnation.com/2015/06/philadelphia-july-4th-events-to-recall-bold-1965-gay-rights-protest/


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Long Beach, 1914: When actors entrapped cruisers and cottagers

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A scene from the play | O&M Co | 15147

A new play, “The twentieth century way” by Tom Jacobson is reviewed by The Daily Beast.

In 1914 the Long Beach Police Department recruited the services of two actors – one rugged, one more delicate – to act as bait to entrap men who had sex with men.

The actors recruited for the job were W.H. Warren and B.C. Brown.

The two would encourage their targets to show their penises through ‘glory holes’ between walls or stalls, after which they would score a cross on the men’s penises with a permanent marker. The men and their marked penises, indicative of their ‘guilt,’ would then be hauled down to the police station, and the men would be prosecuted for ‘social vagrancy.’

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/06/19/the-actors-who-trapped-gay-men-into-having-illegal-sex.html


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Cairo court rejects gay bathhouse case in a single minute

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An image from Egyptian satellite channel Al-Qahira wa al-Nas shows journalist Mona Iraqi, (right) photographing men arrested during a police raid on a public bathhouse in Cairo, December 2014 | 15004

A Cairo court took just one minute on 12 January 2015 to acquit 26 men who had been accused of “debauchery” in a rare victory for Egypt’s gay community that has of late faced an increasingly oppressive police crackdown. The defendants had faced between 1-9 years in prison on varying degrees of “debauchery”. Homosexuality is not technically illegal in Egypt, where the police and courts have a history of persecuting the gay community. The role of state media and journalists, is particularly shameful.

As the defendants were marched into court chained hand-to-hand, they desperately attempted to hide their faces with scarves or their shirts, whatever was at hand. Family members grew angry at the sight of cameras, afraid that the faces of their sons or brothers would be broadcast on television and publicly identified.

In fact, they already had. Among all the various cases of police arresting Egyptian gay men, what makes this one particularly notable is how the police raid of the bathhouse, on Dec. 7, 2014, unfolded as television cameras rolled.

The Egyptian journalist who organized that shoot, Mona Iraqi, described the bathhouse as “the biggest den of perversion in the heart of Cairo.”

It was that context of intolerance that had tempered the expectations of defense lawyers and human rights activists observing the trial.

“There was no evidence,” defense lawyer Islam Khalifa told CBS News on Monday. “But in this country there are always no expectations.”

That Monday’s ruling went they way it did surprised many observers. “It’s unprecedented,” said longtime human rights activist Scott Long. “This just doesn’t happen.” The session lasted barely a minute — just enough time for the judge to do a roll-call of the defendants’ names before uttering a single word: “innocent.”

Source Code CBS


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Stephen Spender

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Stephen Spender | Location: Berlin | 1934 | Unknown photographer | National Portrait Gallery, London | 14478

Sir Stephen Harold Spender CBE was born on 28 February 1909 and died on 16 July 1995. During his life he became one of the most celebrated poets of his generation. His sexuality remains obscured by a cloud.

Wikipedia notes that in his formative years

his closest friend and the man who had the biggest influence on him was W. H. Auden, who introduced him to Christopher Isherwood.

In 1929 he moved to Hamburg. Isherwood invited him to visit Berlin.

Also in 1929 he began writing his novel “The Temple” about a young man who travels to Germany and finds a culture at once more open than England’s — particularly about relationships between men. “The Temple” was not published until 1988.

In 1933, Spender fell in love with Tony Hyndman, and after a short affair with a woman, Spender and Hyndman lived together between 1935 and 1936. Then Spender married Agnes Maria “Inez” Pearn, his first wife. However he continued to have affairs with men.

Hence the speculation and debate over his sexuality, which remains clouded to this day.

During World War II, Spender was in the UK, playing an active part in the war against Germany: then he was appointed to the Allied Control Commission, restoring civil authority in Germany.

Source Code W


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The London Gay Centre, Cowcross Street

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67-69 Cowcross Street | 2014 | Google Street View | 14474

The London Gay Centre at 67-69 Cowcross Street, London was established by the Greater London Council in 1984-5 with a grant of around £750,000. Plans were for facilities including club/performance space, cooking and dining space, a bookshop, a daycare, a lounge and meeting room, a media resource center, offices and other meeting spaces. London was trying to emulate Birmingham, which had opened a Gay Centre in 1976.

Many LGBT organisations of the time were allowed to use the centre for postal purposes.

As a non-commercial gay venue there were problems with volunteers, political infighting and general mismanagement due to staff turnover. When the GLC was abolished in 1986 ownership of the building was transferred to the London Residuary Body. The centre continued in operation for five years but mounting losses, including a robbery, resulted in its closure and subsequent sale. The building is now the headquarters of the charity AddAction.

Vice: The London Lesbian and Gay Centre remembered after 30 years

Updated 27 August 2016 – link added.


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Philadelphia – The sit-in at Dewey’s restaurant

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Dewey’s, Philadelphia, 1965 | Uncredited photographer/Windy City Media | 14014

While the Stonewall Inn Riot is widely regarded as a key moment of gay history, there were previous occasions when gay people said “No” and made a stand. One such event took place in 1965 – before Stonewall – in Philadelphia.

On the evening of Sunday, April 25, 1965, staff at the diner turned away more than 150 people they believed to be LGBT. According to the August 1965 issue of Drum magazine, which mixed beefcake pictorials with news for gay men, the restaurant’s staff refused “to serve a large number of homosexuals and persons wearing non-conformist clothing.”

Eventually, three teenagers — two boys and one girl — refused to give up their seats, in effect beginning a sit-in. In the week that followed, LGBT activists used tactics borrowed from the civil-rights movement to put pressure on the restaurant’s owners until the ban was lifted.

Dewey’s was a small, family-owned chain of diners that operated in Philadelphia from the 1940s to the 1970s. The 13th Street and 17th Street locations drew many LGBT customers, especially after the nearby bars closed. The restaurant was known as “Fag Dewey’s” where “you’d find streetwalkers, you’d find drag queens, you would find everybody.” It is understood that the diner’s management had grown tired of a group of young LGBT kids just sitting around, being rowdy and ordering little, so it encouraged its employees to shoo them away.


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