Long Beach’s gay history is coming out of the closet.
Demonstrators hold huge bouquets outside the Los Angeles Police Department Harbor Station during the 1968 “flower power” protest, waiting for men arrested at The Patch bar in Wilmington to be released.
In August 1968, Los Angeles Police Department officers and vice squad members raided The Patch bar in Wilmington and arrested several gay men. Bar owner and Long Beach resident Lee Glaze told the crowd that the Patch would post their bail.
Glaze and numerous bar patrons went to a nearby flower shop owned by one of the patrons and bought everything in sight. At 3 a.m., the demonstrators carried huge bouquets into the Los Angeles Police Department Harbor Station and staged a “flower power” protest, waiting for the arrested men to be released.
This revolt predates the Stonewall riots in New York City – which many people think started the gay rights movement – by more than a year.
Photos from that raid are among items the Historical Society is considering for an exhibition. The Historical Society also is asking individuals and groups to empty their closets and donate or loan items that showcase or document the local LGBT community. The Society’s LGBT project, which launched in July, is a work in progress and exact details have not been finalized.
To donate or loan material for the history project or to help fund the project, call the Historical Society, 562.424.2220, or e-mail executive director Julie Barolotto, email@example.com. firstname.lastname@example.org, 562.714.2098,twitter.com/outinthe562
By Phillip Zonkel Staff Writer
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Maybe you have a friend or relative who lived through the “gay tide” in Long Beach during the ’60s and ’70s…maybe earlier, maybe later. Perhaps they have some memorabilia that could enhance this project or just want to make an audio-visual testimonial to make sure their impressions/experiences are part of the historical record. This stuff is important. Our collective history is important. I hope that they track down some of the cops who partook of the raids and routine harassment of our tribe and get their side of the story as well. The more we know… Anyway, let’s support this thing in whatever way possible. Any of you with friends/acquaintances who were/are long-time Long Beach residents, ask them if they’ve got anything to contribute to make this exhibit as all-encompassing as possible. A lot of those who bore witness are dying off so we need the input of those queer pioneers still around. -Michael Kirwan