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Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Julius’ NYC’s Oldest Gay Landmark Shut Down By The Department of Health

Julius’ the longest-running gay bar in NYC,  at the corner of West 10th Street and Waverly Place was closed by the city’s Department of Health late last week.

Established around 1867 – the same year as the Jacob Ruppert Brewery in the Yorkville neighborhood. Barrels stamped “Jacob Ruppert” are used for tables. Vintage photos of racing horses, boxers and actors are on the wall as well as an image signed by Walter Winchell saying that he loves Julius’.

In the 1950s Julius; was attracting gay patrons. And at the time the New York State Liquor Authority had a rule that ordered bars not to serve liquor to the disorderly, and homosexuals per se were considered “disorderly.” Bartenders would  evict known homosexuals or order them not to face other customers in order to avoid cruising. Despite this, gay men continued to be a large part of the clientele into the early 1960s, and the management of Julius, steadfastly unwilling for it to become a gay bar, continued to harass them until 1966 when members of the New York Chapter of the Mattachine Society staged a “Sip-In” at the bar.

Dick Leitsch, the society’s president, John Timmons and Craig Rodwell planned to draw attention to the practice by identifying themselves as homosexuals before ordering a drink in order to bring court scrutiny to the regulation. The three were going to read from Mattachine stationary “We are homosexuals. We are orderly, we intend to remain orderly, and we are asking for service.”

The three men went to Julius Julius, where a clergyman had been arrested a few days earlier for soliciting sex.  A sign in the window read, “This is a raided premises.” The bartender started preparing them a drink but then put his hand over the glass which was photographed. The New York Times ran a headline the next day “3 Deviates Invite Exclusion by Bars.” The Mattachines then challenged the liquor rule in court and the courts ruled that gays had a right to peacefully assemble, which undercut the previous SLA contention that the presence of gay clientele automatically was grounds for charges of operating a “disorderly” premises. With this right established a new era of licensed, legally operating gay bars began.

By the late 60′s  Julius’ became a full fledged gay bar and embraced it.  It kept its old New york saloon feel sevrving  burgers, booze and beers to mostly an ‘older” clientele and in the 70′s and 80′s older gentlemen would  sometimes buy burgers for younger men. (If you get my drift).  But times changed and Julius’t kept chugging along with a steady gay clientele and to this day the bar still holds a monthly party called Mattachine.

The current owners did not argue that there were problems that needed to be fixed, and said the bar was to have had multiple exterminations over the weekend hoped to re-open after another inspection on Wednesday or later in the week.

 Bars, Book Stores, buildings, so many LGBT landmarks are disappearing and with them our history fades.
Lets hope that Julius’s gets this current problem under control before we lose another.

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