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BC Flyer Revised 02-02-09 MEDIUM

On November 7, 2008, the Black Cat Bar site (now "Le Barcito")
at 3909 Sunset Boulevard was designated City of Los Angeles
Historic Cultural Monument #939.

What happened at the Black Cat in 1967?
On New Year's Eve 1966/1967 the celebration was in full swing, up to a point:  "The bar looked festive, colored balloons covered the ceiling.  There were three glittering Christmas trees.  There were also police officers. Eight of them.  Informally dressed.  One in a bright red sweater. They drank beer at the bar.  They played pool.  They might have been anyone." Midnight came.  The Rhythm Queens sang "Auld Lang Syne," and traditional kisses were exchanged.
This triggered a sudden outburst from the officers present.  Without identifying themselves they seized then arrested employees and patrons alike.  Fourteen in all.  The short order cook tried to escape through the back door.  Two bartenders were dragged over the bar - the same bar used to this day by Le Barcito.  Several persons fell or were pushed onto the same concrete floor you're likely standing on right now, then dragged into waiting patrol cars.
Officers then raided the New Faces bar at 4001 Sunset.  Lee Roy, the female co-owner, was mistaken by police for a man in drag, struck and hospitalized.  Robert Haas, a 120-pound waiter, was dragged onto the sidewalk.  His jaw and temple were cracked and his spleen ruptured.  After being taken to the hospital he was booked for felony assault on a police officer.
These cases sparked a tremendous amount of fear and anger in the gay community.  In 1967, bars were about the only place to gather in relative safety.  A legal defense fund was established, the media was contacted and there was some television news coverage, though no coverage by the print media other than the LA Free Press.
Six of the men arrested for exchanging kisses at the Black Cat were convicted of lewd conduct and required to register as sex offenders for the rest of their lives.  Two (Charles Talley and Benny Baker - witnessed kissing other men for anywhere from 3 to 5 seconds each) appealed their convictions all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.  In a cert petition to the Court their attorney, Herbert Selwyn, argued for the first time ever solely on the basis of equal protection under the law for homosexuals.  However the Court declined to hear the case.
On the night of February 11, 1967 three to six hundred persons took part in what was likely the largest protest ever to be held in this country up to that point in time by lesbian and gay people. Two years before the Stonewall Riots in New York City in June of 1969.  The protesters marched in front of the bars and held a rally in the Black Cat's parking lot.  Lillian Faderman, co-author of Gay L.A. has called this protest "the crucial spark that ignited a whole movement."
PRIDE was a co-organizer of the Black Cat protest.  When mainstream media failed to cover either the raid or the protest PRIDE's newsletter editor, Richard Mitch, realized the gay community needed a newspaper of its own.  In September of 1967 the PRIDE Newsletter became the Los Angeles Advocate, and after PRIDE dissolved, simply the Advocate magazine.
Within the Los Angeles LGBT rights movement the Black Cat and New Faces protest is part of a long chain of significant achievements which include the founding of the Mattachine Society in 1950, ONE (now the ONE Archives) in 1953, Dr. Evelyn Hooker's work during the 1950s, the Advocate in 1967, the Metropolitan Community Church in 1968, and Christopher Street West (organizer of the annual Pride Parade) in 1970.
Look around. Consider how history can be created in the most unlikely of places. And remember the courage and pride of those who marched outside the front doors in 1967.

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The 2009 LA PRIDE Celebration
will be
June 12 - 14

in West Hollywood.
visit for more information.

Our Agenda:

A 501(c)3 non-profit organization,
Christopher Street West is a leading partner in the advancement of rights and equality of the LGBT community. Led by professionally-driven, volunteer-based board members, Christopher Street West produces one of the largest Pride Celebrations in the United States with an expanding global presence reaching millions of people every year.

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