Sip in

Campaign launched to save historic NYC gay bar Julius’

Bars are among the hardest-hit businesses in the COVID era, and while it’s a shame when any small business goes under, shuttered doors can mean losing a whole lot more than a vodka soda.

Julius’ Bar in NYC’s West Village is the site of the now-famous 1966 ‘Sip In’ to protest against LGBTQ discrimination, and it’s in danger of shutting down for good. A campaign has been launched to help it stay open.

Related: The Greenwich Village bar that established our right to drink in peace

Current bar owner Helen Buford started a GoFundMe to save the historic queer space. She writes:

This historic bar means so much to so many people because of its rich history. On April 21, 2016 Julius’ Bar was nominated to the National Register of Historic Places, and for the historical significance of LGBT Greenwich Village. Fifty four years ago a person could be refused service in a bar simply for being gay, and his or her mere presence there could result in the bar’s closure by the State Liquor Authority. On April 21, 1966, Dick Leitsch and other members of the Mattachine Society, an early LGBT rights organization, staged the now famous Sip-In at Julius’ bar in the Village to challenge this “legal” discrimination. After they announced to the bartender that they were homosexuals and wished to be served, they were refused service. The event generated publicity and was one of the earliest pre-Stonewall public actions for LGBT rights. Scholars of LGBT history consider the Sip-In at Julius’ a key event leading to the growth of legitimate LGBT bars and the development of the bar as the central social space for urban LGBT New Yorkers.

Today Julius’ welcomes all people to share in the history and to preserve it’s legacy. The staff and I are eager to serve you safely once again but we need your help. Any amount you can donate will help with the operating expenses. If you can’t donate please share this page.

Related: John Cameron Mitchell Takes Old-School Party Realness On The Road With Mattachine

John Cameron Mitchell (Hedwig and the Angry InchShortbusHow to Talk to Girls at Parties) has thrown a monthly queer dance party at the venue for the last 12 years aptly named Mattachine, and has been offering up signed Hedwig memorabilia and fond memories to help draw attention to the the campaign.

Head here to find out more, and scroll down to see what he’s been sharing:

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@juliusbarnyc, the oldest queer bar in NYC, is at risk of going under! We’ve been doing our monthly #MattachineParty there for 12 years. See link in bio to help owner #helenbuford. I will be selling signed @hedwigonbway photos to help. More on that soon. Repost from @antonycherrienyc • On April 21, 1966, members of the Mattachine Society, an early gay rights group, organized what became known as the “Sip-In.” Their intent was to challenge New York State Liquor Authority (SLA) 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 SLA regulations were one of the primary governmental mechanisms of oppression against the gay community because they precluded the right to free assembly. This was particularly important because bars were one of the few places where gay people could meet each other. The Sip-In was part of a larger campaign by more radical members of the Mattachine Society to clarify laws and rules that inhibited the running of gay bars as legitimate, non-mob establishments and to stop the harassment of gay bar patrons. I had the pleasure of meeting Dick Leitsch one of the members of the historical sip in he did his part and now we should do ours. Keep this bar open.

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