On April 21, 1966, members of the Mattachine Society, an early gay rights group, organized what became known as the “Sip-In.” Their intent was to challenge New York State Liquor Authority (SLA) regulations that were promulgated so that bars could not 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. The Sip-In was part of a larger campaign by more radical members of the Mattachine Society to clarify laws and rules that inhibited the running of gay bars as legitimate, non-mob establishments and to stop the harassment of gay bar patrons.
Dick Leitsch, Craig Rodwell, and John Timmons, accompanied by several reporters, went to a number of bars, announced that they were “homosexuals,” and asked to be served a drink. At their first stop, the Ukrainian-American Village Restaurant, the bar had closed, while at their next two attempts, at a Howard Johnson’s and at the Hawaiian-themed Waikiki, they had been served. They then moved on to Julius’ and were joined by Randy Wicker. However, at Julius’, which had recently been raided, the bartender refused their request. This refusal received publicity in the New York Times and the Village Voice.
The reaction by the State Liquor Authority and the newly-empowered New York City Commission on Human Rights resulted in a change in policy and the birth of a more open gay bar culture. Scholars of gay history consider the Sip-In at Julius’ a key event leading to the growth of legitimate gay bars and the development of the bar as the central social space for urban gay men and lesbians.
LANDMARK DESIGNATIONS FOR LGBT SIGNIFICANCEIn April 2016, the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project’s nomination of Julius’ to the National Register of Historic Places was approved by the National Park Service, following the site’s listing on the New York State Register of Historic Places in December 2015.
Read more about Julius' Bar and other important LGBT history here.... https://www.nyclgbtsites.org/site/julius/
Fighting for Rights
On April 21, 1966, four gay activists staged a "sip-in" at Julius' to challenge the New York State Liquor Authority's regulation prohibiting bars and restaurants from serving gays. Accompanied by five reporters, the group visited a number of bars until they were denied service at Julius', a longtime Greenwich Village gay bar.
The incident drew a denial from the SLA chairman that his agency told bars not to serve gays and precipitated an investigation by the city's Human Rights Commission chairman. (From Becoming Visible, Penguin Studios, 1998)