PHOTOS: LGBT advocates honor 52nd Anniversary of historic “Sip-In” with trailblazer Dick Leitsch and advocate/influencer Adam Eli

April 26, 2018


Ken Lustbader, NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project
p: (917) 848-1776 / e: [email protected]


** PHOTOS **
Generations come together at LGBT anniversary event

LGBT civil rights trailblazers Randy Wicker, Dick Leitsch — mastermind
of 1966 Mattachine Society “Sip-In” — and new guard activist Adam Eli
share a toast a Julius’ Bar


New York, NY–LGBT advocates and NYC preservationists celebrated history on Saturday, April 21st, at Julius’ Bar in Greenwich Village, the site of the historic 1966 “Sip-In” organized by the Mattachine Society, an early American homophile group.

Trailblazer and mastermind of the “Sip-In” — one of the earliest acts of public resistance, which challenged discrimination against LGBT people in New York City — Dick Leitsch, as well as fellow Mattachine member and protest participant Randy Wicker, were joined by Adam Eli, whose own non-violent activism builds on the legacy of actions like the groundbreaking “Sip-in.”

Speaking to the standing-room-only crowd at Julius’, Adam Eli referenced the historic pendulum of progress in the community: “when the pendulum moves forward, it’s because we pushed it,” resisting periods of oppression and using our might to swing the pendulum back towards a period of increased rights and equality. “Tonight, honor your ancestors, thrive with your contemporaries and fight like hell on Monday,” he declared, in a moment (full speech here) which captured the spirit of inter-generational appreciation between pioneers Leitsch and Wicker and the young Eli, a force behind the activist group Voices4.

State Senator Brad Hoylman presented event organizers NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project and Julius’ Bar with a proclamation declaring April 21, 2018 to be “Julius’ Bar Appreciation Day,” in honor of Julius’ status as the “oldest LGBTQ bar in New York City still in operation” and the Sip-In’s status as “one of the first acts of gay civil rights disobedience in the United States of America.”

NYC Councilmember Daniel Dromm, Chair of the Council’s LGBT Caucus and himself a former teacher, praised the leadership of Dick Leitsch for his 1966 “Sip-In” and also the work of the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project to document and disseminate LGBT history via its website, Councilmember Dromm reinforced his support of LGBT history inclusion in public school curriculum.

View more photos of the
“Sip-In” 52nd Anniversary celebration (here).



(1) Left to right, Helen Buford, owner of Julius’ Bar; NYC Councilmember Daniel Dromm; Dick Leitsch; Adam Eli, activist and social influencer; Jay Shockley, Project co-director; Randy Wicker; Ken Lustbader (with sign), Project co-director.

(2) Randy Wicker, participant of the 1966 “Sip-In” signs copies of the famous photograph by Fred W. McDarrah, of the Mattachine Society group being denied a drink by the bartender at Julius’.

(3) Dick Leitsch, mastermind of the 1966 Mattachine Society’s “Sip-In” joins with NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project manager Amanda Davis, donning a “Go-Go Mattachine!” button, for a fun photo.

(4) State Senator Brad Hoylman (right, with bowtie) presents a proclamation declaring April 21, 2018, to be “Julius’ Bar Appreciation Day,” in honor of its place in LGBT and American history.


Historical Background

Fifty-two years ago — on April 21st, 1966 — four homosexuals went in search of a drink. They had a purpose: to challenge discrimination against LGBT men and women at bars. At the time, the New York State Liquor Authority (SLA) enforced regulations making it illegal for bars to serve drinks to known or suspected gay men or lesbians, since their presence was considered de facto disorderly. The SLA regulations were one of the primary governmental mechanisms of oppression against the gay community because they precluded the right to free assembly. This was particularly important because bars were one of the few places where gay people could meet each other. Learn more about Julius’ as a site of LGBT history on our website (more).

At Julius’ Bar, they were refused service, the exchange with the bartender captured in a now-famous image by legendary photographer Fred W. McDarrah. Mainstream media took notice and what was called a “Sip-In” helped to change history.

As sites connected to LGBT history in NYC are threatened — the former site of the Paradise Garage has been demolished; 69 West 14th Street, site of the founding of the Gay Liberation Front, is actively threatened by the wrecking ball — it is more important than ever to remember the determination of LGBT equal rights pioneers and the physical sites which place key people and events in history.


About the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project

The NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project is a cultural initiative and educational resource that is documenting historic sites connected to the LGBT community throughout New York City. Its interactive map features diverse places from the 17th century to the year 2000 that are important to LGBT history and illustrate the community’s influence on American culture. The Project is nominating sites to the National Register of Historic Places and developing educational tours and programs. For more, visit, or follow on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.