queer history

The Black Cat Tavern raid & protest: an oft-forgotten moment in queer history that predates Stonewall

February 11th marks a prominent moment in LGBTQ+ history.

The Black Cat Tavern raid in 1967 is one such moment—a flashpoint that ignited activism and helped to pave the way for LGBTQ+ equality.

Historical Background

During the 1960s, the queer community faced widespread discrimination and oppression. Being openly gay was ostracized, and anti-sodomy laws were enforced. Police raids on gay establishments were frequently happening and often brutal, serving as a clear message from society: being LGBTQ+ was not acceptable.

The Black Cat Tavern Raids

The Black Cat Tavern in Los Angeles was a haven for the community. However, on New Year’s Eve 1966, the popular Silverlake establishment became a symbol of oppression. Police stormed the tavern, claiming lewd conduct violations. Patrons were savagely beaten, and several were arrested, marking an escalation in the police’s battle against LGBTQ+ individuals.

Activism, Legacy & Impact

Two months after the raids, on February 11, 1967, advocates organized a protest outside the tavern. This marked one of the earliest recorded LGBTQ+ rights protests in the United States, making it a clear watershed moment for our community.

This protest, in response to the Black Cat Tavern raid weeks earlier, served as a forerunner to the Stonewall riots of 1969. Together, these events inspired a new phase of the LGBTQ+ rights movement, including legal and social changes that improved queer people’s quality of life.

The significance of the Black Cat Tavern incident has been formally recognized; in 2008, the site was named a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument for its role in the LGBTQ+ civil rights movement.


Before the Stonewall riots, Los Angeles had its own uprising against police brutality. On Feb. 11, 1967, outside the Black Cat Tavern, protesters took a bold step, grabbing their picket signs and publicly protesting police harassment and the decriminalization of homosexuality. We honor the brave LGBTQ+ folks who stood up for our rights and celebrate the #BlackCatTavern for being the site of the first LGBTQ+ civil rights demonstration in the nation. ?????#lgbtqhistory #civilrights #queerhistory

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