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 pre-Stonewall public actions for LGBT rights. Scholars of LGBT history consider the Sip-In at Julius’ 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.
At this 50th anniversary event, which also honors special guest Dick Leitsch, we will be part of a panel discussion with Tom Bernardin, self-described historian of Julius’. We will cover the history of the Sip-In, our recent efforts to have the site nominated to the National Register of Historic Places, and the historical significance of LGBT Greenwich Village.
This event is being hosted by the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation.