Before there was Stonewall



Cops here routinely raided bars arresting anyone whose perceived gender didn’t match what was on their ID, sometimes they’d even single out a few victims for special attention in the form of insults and beatings. Entrapment was common – attractive vice cops would go to Gay bars, bathrooms and cruising spots, pick up folks and arrest them, or wait outside of Gay hangouts, trail two men as they walked home and break in to catch them in flagrante delicto.

MAY 1959 At the first recorded protest by Homophiles in the world, LGBT patrons clashed with police at Cooper’s Donuts on Main Street, a hang-out for drag queens and street hustlers who were frequently harassed by the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD). Police arrested three customers but others began pelting the police with donuts and coffee cups. The LAPD called for back-up and arrested a number of rioters; the three original detainees were able to escape.

MAY 1966 A coalition of Homosexual organizations organized demonstrations for Armed Forces Day to protest the exclusion of LGBT from the U.S. armed services. The Los Angeles group held a 15-car motorcade, which has been identified as the nation’s first Gay pride parade.

JANUARY 1967 The LAPD raided the New Year’s Eve parties at two Gay bars, the Black Cat Tavern and New Faces. Several patrons were injured and a bartender was hospitalized with a fractured skull. Several hundred people spontaneously demonstrated on Sunset Boulevard and picketed outside the Black Cat to protest police raids on Gay establishments.

FEBRUARY 1967 Organized by the owner of Gay bar Pandora’s Box, and built on the Black Cat protests of weeks earlier, about 200 LGBTs watched as around 40 picketers demonstrated in front of the Black Cat in solidarity with other minority groups who had been targeted by police for harassment and violence.

MARCH 1968 Two drag queens known as “The Princess” and “The Duchess” held a St. Patrick’s Day party at Griffith Park, a popular cruising spot and a frequent target of police activity. More than 200 Gay men socialized through the day to protest entrapment and harassment by the LAPD.

MAY 1968 LGBT groups organized a “Gay-in” in Griffith Park.

AUGUST 1968 Following the arrest of two patrons in a raid, The Patch owner Lee Glaze organized the other patrons to move on the police station. After buying out a nearby flower shop, the demonstrators caravanned to the station, festooned it with the flowers and bailed out the arrested men.

REFERENCES: Queerty, Wikipedia, Gay L. A.: A History of Sexual Outlaws, Power Politics, And Lipstick Lesbians