LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Mayor Eric Garcetti, openly gay Los Angeles City Councilman Mitch O’Farrell and a group of gay activists marked the 50th anniversary of the first LGBTQ protest in the nation.
The protest was held at the Black Cat restaurant in Silver Lake — the same place where the first protest took place on this same day in 1967.
KCAL9’s Cristy Fajardo was there for the celebration, re-creations and speeches. There was also a showcase by gay theater activist Michael Kearns and a dance party in the parking lot.
“Los Angeles and the 13th Council District have been ground zero for some of the most important events in LGBT history, especially the watershed Black Cat protests that took place right here in Silver Lake 50 years ago,” said Councilmember O’Farrell, who is sponsoring the commemoration.
He added, “It wasn’t that long ago that people like me were targeted by the police for being true to ourselves. Lives were ruined, and a whole class of people were marginalized. We have come a long way since 1967, but new threats loom on the horizon from the Trump Administration, threatening our civil rights and those of other traditionally persecuted communities.”
The Black Cat protest happened a full two years before the Stonewall Riots in New York City.
Fajardo reported that Saturday’s event acknowledged the past, present and the unknown future of LA’s LGBTQ community.
A post-New Year’s Eve celebration at the restaurant saw many men kissing. Undercover LAPD officers made 14 arrests — for “lewd contact.”
The raid that evening led to a protest on Feb. 11, with hundreds of gay men — many of them coming out of the closet for the first time — demanding the LAPD stop criminalizing people for being gay.
How much have times changed? Many members of the LAPD milled around with the crowd.
The protest was also said to have helped launch the creation of The Advocate, one of the first gay publications in America.