Thrilled to report that the National Park Service (NPS) has just added the West Village gay bar Julius’ to the National Register of Historic Places! This comes just weeks after NPS designated Bayard Rustin’s Manhattan residence to the Register -- and couldn't be bestowed on a more fitting destination, which happens to be my favorite watering hole in the world.
The National Park Service on Wednesday officially added the Greenwich Village gay bar Julius’ to the National Register of Historic Places in recognition of the bar’s “association with an important early event in the modern gay rights movement.”
The action came one day before the 50th anniversary of a 1966 sip-in that gay activists staged at Julius’ to challenge the then-interpretation of a state liquor regulation used to prohibit bars from serving alcoholic beverages to homosexuals.
“On April 21, 1966, three members of the Mattachine Society, an early and influential gay rights organization, organized what became known as a ‘sip-in,’” a statement released this week by the National Park Service says. “Their intent was to challenge New York State Liquor Authority 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 statement says.
The Mattachine Society members carried out the sip-in by sitting at the bar at Julius’ and ordering drinks. According to news reports of the action, the men declared they were homosexuals just as the bartender put one of their drinks on the bar, prompting the bartender to place his hand over the drink and telling the men he could not serve them.The successful court challenge to this refusal of service helped establish the right of homosexuals to be served in licensed premises in New York and paved the way for the opening of many new gay premises with state liquor licenses. I'm truly thrilled!