Julius’ is a favorite hangout among New York’s gay community, known for its cozy atmosphere and killer burgers. But it also has a history that not many people outside of the LGBT community know about.
Opened in 1867, Julius’ was already popular with gay patrons by the 1950s—even though homosexuals were technically banned from drinking in bars.
On April 21, 1966—three years before the Stonewall Riots—three gay men decided to protest the ban by having a “sip-in” at Julius’. “We are homosexuals. We are orderly, we intend to remain orderly, and we are asking for service,” they declared to the bartender.
John Timmons, Craig Rodwell and Dick Leitsch—all members of the early gay rights group the Mattachine Society—were refused service, on the grounds that having gay men in the bar would make it a “disorderly premise.”
The bartender actually started preparing them a drink, but put his hand over the glass—the image of which was captured by a New York Times photographer.
After the “sip-in,” the men challenged the State Liquor Association, claiming that denying service to homosexuals was discrimination. They won—and the law was struck from the books. It was a significant early victory for the gay rights movements.
Now 50 years later, the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation is petitioning the Landmarks Preservation Commission to give landmark status to Julius’, like it did for the Stonewall Inn last year.
Julius’ is already a part of the Greenwich Village Historic District, which means any changes made to its exterior need to be approved. Landmark status would ensure that the building is preserved in its entirety and is given recognition for its role in history.
The Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation hopes to have a vote on the bar’s landmark status in time for the 50th anniversary of the “sip-in” this year.
h/t: Gay City News