Q&A / ALL AGES / $5 SUGGESTED DONATION / Ever wonder where exactly your civil rights came from? Someone had to fight for them!
Alexei Romanoff is one of the organizers of the Black Cat demonstration in 1967 in Silverlake, the first protest against police raids of gay bars in the U.S. This was 2 years before Stonewall. Alexei may be the only living participant of the demonstration and has spent his lifetime fighting for civil rights.
Join us for an open-forum Q&A lead by Mukta Mohan. Music and snacks by Honey Power Collective. Plus: Alexei turns 80 later in July and we will celebrate!
Background on The Black Cat Demonstrations / On January 1st 1967, shortly after midnight, undercover police officers raided two gay bars in Silverlake - the Black Cat Tavern and The New Faces. Using excessive force and beating many patrons of the bar mercilessly in the process, they arrested over a dozen people for acts of “public lewdness” – kissing, hugging, literally a peck on the neck.
The chaos spilled out of The Black Cat and into the bars and streets of the surrounding area, causing a riot that predated Stonewall by two full years.
On February 11th, hundreds of members of the Los Angeles gay community gathered together to protest the raid and the discriminatory practices of the police. They were met by squadrons of heavily armed police officers. This demonstration was the first mass protest against police raids on gay bars in the United States.
And although they didn’t win, the trial for those arrested the night of the raid was the very first time in US history that a court case stated that gay people were equal and subject to the Constitution just like anybody else. If that’s not enough historical significance, this was also the virtually unknown origin of the P.R.I.D.E. demonstrations – as the newsletter Personal Rights in Defense of Education was one of the organizers. That newsletter went on to become “The Advocate” – the longest running and most influential gay publication.