Sip-In History Fill-In (Letter to the Editor)
By: Amanda Davis, Andrew S. Dolkart, Ken Lustbader and Jay Shockley
To The Editor:
Re “Friends and fans toast ‘Sip-In’ leader Leitsch” (news article, March 9):
We first met Dick Leitsch shortly before the 50th anniversary of the Sip-In on April 21, 2016. One of the first accomplishments of our New York City L.G.B.T. Historic Sites Project was the listing of Julius’ on the National Register of Historic Places, which was announced at our anniversary celebration there. Since then, we have come to regard Dick as a friend, and cherish his important accomplishments during his time heading the Mattachine Society in the 1960s.
We’d like to clarify a few points about Julius’ and the Sip-In. There has been a bar at that location since the mid-19th century, and under the current name since around 1930. The New York State Liquor Authority was created in 1934 at the end of Prohibition. Under the S.L.A.’s loose “regulations,” a bar that was “disorderly” could lose its license, and early on, the mere presence of gay men or lesbians came to be interpreted as being in that category. After the Sip-In, there was no court case in New York about gay bars. The Sip-In publicity, and Mattachine’s negotiating the interest of William H. Booth, the African-American chairperson of the New York City Commission on Human Rights, caused the S.L.A. to disavow having had such a policy on homosexuals.
Helen Buford, the current owner of Julius’, is a wonderful steward of the bar and its history. We are pleased the upcoming April 21 event for the Sip-In anniversary will also be a fundraiser for our project.
Finally, Dick Leitsch’s wishes for his funeral and for his remains’ final resting place is for them both to be at the Church of St. Luke in the Fields on Hudson St., not the Church of the Village.
Amanda Davis, Andrew S. Dolkart, Ken Lustbader and Jay Shockley
Davis, Dolkart, Lustbader and Shockley are members, New York City LGBT Historic Sites Project