overview

The March 1, 1971, Gay Activists Alliance zap at the Household Finance Corp. was part of its coordinated campaign to spotlight two issues: discrimination against the LGBT community in New York by mortgage lenders, and GAA’s support of Intro 475 (Clingan-Burden Bill), which proposed to prohibit such discrimination.

Header Photo
Credit: Amanda Davis/NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project, 2020.

History

Intro 475 (Clingan-Burden Bill) was introduced before the New York City Council on January 6, 1971, to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation in employment, housing, and public accommodations. As a means to support the bill, the Fair Employment Committee of the Gay Activists Alliance (GAA) conducted research on job discrimination in the city as background. The Household Finance Corp. (HFC), a major mortgage lender, was accused of discrimination against the LGBT community by denying credit to gay customers, its refusal to hire homosexuals, and conducting investigations into the sex lives of applicants for loans and employment.

Starting at noon on March 1, 1971, about 15 GAA members held zaps at four HFC branch offices, leafleting and talking with HFC employees about discrimination. (See our curated theme for background on the “zap” tactic.) Police appeared at three of the locations and threatened arrest. At the same time, GAA members conducted a phone-in campaign asking about HFC’s policies on loans to, and employment of, homosexuals.

The main zap that day was at HFC’s headquarters in the Chemical Bank New York Trust skyscraper at 277 Park Avenue, where about 25 GAA members were joined by women from the Daughters of Bilitis. They were accompanied by members of the press and a local TV station. After swarming the offices inside, the protesters left before the police arrived and joined the picket line outside the building, which had a total of about 40 activists.

HFC did not make any response to GAA’s actions or the charges of LGBT discrimination, nor did it change its policies.

Read about other GAA actions, listed in chronological order, in our curated theme.

Building Information

  • Architect or Builder: Emery Roth & Sons
  • Year Built: 1958-64

Sources

  1. Gay Activists Alliance, “Employment Discrimination Against Homosexuals” (unpublished report), issued February 3, 1971, and submitted to the NYC Commission on Human Rights.

  2. Gay Activists Alliance, Household Finance Corp. Zap press release, March 2, 1971.

  3. “Household Finance Invaded by Angry Activists,” GAY, March 29, 1971, 1, 10.

  4. Morty Manford and Arthur Evans, “The Theory and Practice of Confrontation Tactics,” GAY, February 12, 1973, 19.

  5. Steven H. Jaffee and Jessica Lautin, Capital of Capital: Money, Banking and Power in New York City, 1784-2012 (New York: Museum of the City of New York), 228.

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Curated Themes

20 Sites

Gay Activists Alliance

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