Tag Archives: Mattachine

Gay History – February 14: Forgotten Gay Hero Don Slater and David Bowie Snubs The Gay Liberation Front

Don Slater: Forgotten Gay Hero (1923–1997)

Frustrated and impatient with the way the Mattachine Society was getting the message for gay civil rights out in 1951–53, Don Slater insisted that we needed a better way.

In November, 1952, Don helped found ONE, America’s first openly distributed homosexual magazine.

A social movement has to have a voice beyond its own members,” he said. For the first time, ONE gave a voice to the “love that dare not speak its name.” Nobody had ever done that. The magazine was the beginning of the movement.”

As the magazine’s editor, Slater began one of his most significant contributions to free expression in 1954, when FBI and postal officials charged that ONE could not be sent through the U.S. mail because it contained obscene material. To a modern-day reader, the material is barely titillating. But FBI officials concluded that the magazine was obscene because it was lustfully stimulating to the average homosexual reader.”

Along with other staff members, Slater hired a lawyer and fought the charges. After losing in lower courts, they took the case to the U.S. Supreme Court, despite having to pay legal expenses of more than $2,000 out of their own pockets.

In January 1958, the editors triumphed when the highest court in the land unanimously reversed the decision of the lower courts. Although the justices did not issue a written opinion, the landmark decision established that the subject of homosexuality is not, per se, obscene. LGBT publications could legally be distributed through the mail.

Despite its historical significance, the magazine was not a moneymaker. ONE never paid for itself, Slater recalled after its demise.

“It wouldn’t have survived if we editors hadn’t put our own money into it continually. We wanted it to work. So we all just pitched in.”

Don Slater also  helped launch the National Conference of Homophile Organizations and the Western Regional Conferences [in] 1966. He worked to reverse the anti-gay bias of the American Civil Liberties Union. That same year he led a motorcade through the streets of Los Angeles, protesting exclusion of gay men  in the armed forces.

Don died in Los Angeles on February 14, 1997 from an infected heart valve implant.

Don was survived by Tony Reyes, his partner of 51 years.

A true hero of the LGBT movement and one that must always be remembered.

You can check out the ONE Archives Foundation HERE

FEBRUARY 14th GAY TRIVIA: On this day in 1974 Rolling Stone magazine reported that David Bowie who was going through his Ziggy Stardust phase turned down the Gay Liberation Front when asked him to compose the world’s first Gay National Anthem.

Bet you didn’t know that!

Image result for one magazine 1958


Image result for one magazine 1958

Image result for one magazine 1958

Gay History – April 21, 1966: NYC Gay Rights Activist Stage “Sip-In” Protesting Refusal To Serve Homosexuals

On this date a little-known but very important milestone in gay history took place at Julius’ bar on West 10th Street in NYC that helped pave the way for the Stonewall uprising and gay rights. 

The Mattachine Society “staged” the first civil rights “sip-in.”

At the time, being homosexual was in itself seen as a disorder,” said Dick Leitsch, an original member of the group. It was also “illegal” to serve a homosexual liquor by order of the New York State Liquor Authority.

On April 21, 1966 Mattachine Society activists invited along four newspaper reporters, including Thomas A. Johnson of The New York Times. The plan was to convene at noon at the Ukrainian-American Village Hall, a bar on St. Marks Place. “ The Times reporter tipped off the owners, who shut the bar for the day. A sign in the window made the establishment’s attitude clear: “If you are gay, please stay away.”

So the men then moved across the street to The Dom, a club that, by night hosted concerts by the Velvet Underground. It had a sign just as unwelcoming as the one at the Ukrainian Hall. The Dom, too, was closed.

After going to a Howard Johnson’s, at Eighth Street and the Avenue of the Americas which served them. The men then advanced to a Mafia-owned tiki bar, The Waikiki. The  amused manager told them: “How do I know you’re homosexuals? Give these guys a drink on us.”

In desperation, the troupe trudged over to Julius’ on West 10th Street. “It was a rather dull, neighborhood place which was about three-quarters gay,” said Randy Wicker, 78, who joined the action at that stop. “I called it a closet queen bar.”

The activists knew Julius’ had to refuse them, because the night before, a man who had been served there had later been entrapped by an officer for “gay activity,” meaning the bar was in jeopardy of having its liquor license revoked. As they entered, the men spied a sign that read “Patrons Must Face the Bar While Drinking,” an instruction used to thwart cruising.  

As soon as they approached, the bartender put a glass in front of him. When the men announced they were gay, the bartender put his hand over the glass; it was captured in a photograph by Fred McDarrah for The Village Voice.

The next day’s New York Times featured an article about the event with the headline “3 Deviates Invite Exclusion by Bars.” Two weeks later, a far more sympathetic piece appeared in The Voice. The publicity prompted a response from the State Liquor Authority chairman, Donald S. Hostetter, who denied that his organization ever threatened the liquor licenses of bars that served gays. The decision to serve was up to individual bartenders, he said.

At that point, the Commission on Human Rights became involved. It’s chairman, William H. Booth, told The Times in a later article: “We have jurisdiction over discrimination based on sex. Denial of bar service to a homosexual solely for that reason would come within those bounds.”

From that moment on gay men could not be refused service in any New York State Liquor Authority  licensed establishment.

Andrew Dolkart, co-director of the New York City L.G.B.T. Historic Sites Project, is seeking to have Julius’ made the second gay history site to enter the national register, after the Stonewall Inn. The building, which dates from 1826, has been a bar since 1864 and has had a gay clientele since the 1950s. It has been a setting for films including: The Boys in the Band, The Normal Heart, and most recently Can You Ever Forgive Me.

The small grill within the bar also makes one helluva cheeseburger .

 

Julius’ NYC’s Oldest Gay Landmark Shut Down By The Department of Health

Julius’ the longest-running gay bar in NYC,  at the corner of West 10th Street and Waverly Place was closed by the city’s Department of Health late last week.

Established around 1867 – the same year as the Jacob Ruppert Brewery in the Yorkville neighborhood. Barrels stamped “Jacob Ruppert” are used for tables. Vintage photos of racing horses, boxers and actors are on the wall as well as an image signed by Walter Winchell saying that he loves Julius’.

In the 1950s Julius; was attracting gay patrons. And at the time the New York State Liquor Authority had a rule that ordered bars not to serve liquor to the disorderly, and homosexuals per se were considered “disorderly.” Bartenders would  evict known homosexuals or order them not to face other customers in order to avoid cruising. Despite this, gay men continued to be a large part of the clientele into the early 1960s, and the management of Julius, steadfastly unwilling for it to become a gay bar, continued to harass them until 1966 when members of the New York Chapter of the Mattachine Society staged a “Sip-In” at the bar.

Dick Leitsch, the society’s president, John Timmons and Craig Rodwell planned to draw attention to the practice by identifying themselves as homosexuals before ordering a drink in order to bring court scrutiny to the regulation. The three were going to read from Mattachine stationary “We are homosexuals. We are orderly, we intend to remain orderly, and we are asking for service.”

The three men went to Julius Julius, where a clergyman had been arrested a few days earlier for soliciting sex.  A sign in the window read, “This is a raided premises.” The bartender started preparing them a drink but then put his hand over the glass which was photographed. The New York Times ran a headline the next day “3 Deviates Invite Exclusion by Bars.” The Mattachines then challenged the liquor rule in court and the courts ruled that gays had a right to peacefully assemble, which undercut the previous SLA contention that the presence of gay clientele automatically was grounds for charges of operating a “disorderly” premises. With this right established a new era of licensed, legally operating gay bars began.

By the late 60’s  Julius’ became a full fledged gay bar and embraced it.  It kept its old New york saloon feel sevrving  burgers, booze and beers to mostly an ‘older” clientele and in the 70’s and 80’s older gentlemen would  sometimes buy burgers for younger men. (If you get my drift).  But times changed and Julius’t kept chugging along with a steady gay clientele and to this day the bar still holds a monthly party called Mattachine.

The current owners did not argue that there were problems that needed to be fixed, and said the bar was to have had multiple exterminations over the weekend hoped to re-open after another inspection on Wednesday or later in the week.

 Bars, Book Stores, buildings, so many LGBT landmarks are disappearing and with them our history fades. 

Lets hope that Julius’s gets this current problem under control before we lose another.