Home World New York, Julius’ gay bar becomes a “historic place”: it hosted the “sip in” protest against the law that forbade the serving of alcohol to homosexuals

New York, Julius’ gay bar becomes a “historic place”: it hosted the “sip in” protest against the law that forbade the serving of alcohol to homosexuals

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New York, Julius’ gay bar becomes a “historic place”: it hosted the “sip in” protest against the law that forbade the serving of alcohol to homosexuals

Before the Stonewall Inn riots there was Julius’. The historic bar, in the West Village, after almost 60 years has obtained the designation of “historic place” by the Landmarks Preservation Commission of the city of New York.

What is considered the oldest gay bar in the Big Apple, three years before the riots that led to the birth of the modern gay liberation movement around the world, in 1966, had hosted the protest to “sip in” (sipping, derived term from «sit in»), organized by the Mattachine Society, one of the first organizations for the rights of gay people in the United States of America.

The sip in was staged to protest a law that banned the serving of alcohol to homosexual people. Challenging the State Liquor Authority (SLA, the body that regulates the distribution of alcohol in the state of New York) on its policies around gay bars, Dick Leitsch, a member of the Mattachine Society, conducted a sip in at some bars in New York York with two other gay men to test the validity of the SLA policy on closing bars, who could have their liquor license revoked if they voluntarily served drinks to a group of three or more homosexuals.

At the same time, Leitsch also warned the press that he had to build a case against ALS. The three chose different bars, one was found closed, two served them alcohol, when they arrived at Julius’ the bartender refused by covering one of the glasses with his hand. The moment was captured by a photographer and the next day the New York Times wrote an article pointing out that a bar had refused to serve alcohol to gays after previous attempts had been successful.

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The following year, thanks to that protest, the judges established that the simple fact of being gay and flirting or kissing in public were not indecent acts to lead to the disturbance of the public peace and therefore homosexuals could legally drink in bars.

“Honoring a place in New York where service was once denied only on the basis of sexuality reinforces something that should already be clear: LGBTQ+ New Yorkers are welcome everywhere in our city,” Mayor Eric Adams said in a statement. Juilius’ was already in 2016 in the National Register of Historical Places (US government register, ndr). The same year the Stonewall Inn was added.

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