Historic Gay Landmark Closing

By: Joe Thompson
10.31.2011

Local Los Angeles website The East Sider LA revealed that one of the last gay bars in the city's Silver Lake neighborhood is closing tonight with a big Halloween party. The bar is called Le Barcito, and it's located in the Sunset Junction area—blocks away from where the original A Different Light bookstore was located.

So why does this matter to you?

Years ago Le Barcito was called Black Cat Tavern. It opened in November of 1966 and two months later, on the night of New Year's 1967, it became a major part of gay rights history.

According to the Black Cat's Wikipedia page, "several plain-clothes police officers infiltrated the Black Cat Tavern. After arresting several patrons for kissing as they celebrated the occasion, the undercover police officers began beating several of the patrons and ultimately arrested thirteen patrons and three bartenders. This created a riot in the immediate area that expanded to include the bar across Sanborn Avenue called New Faces where officers knocked down the owner (a woman) and beat two bartenders unconscious."

Days later gays and lesbians organized a civil demonstration of over 200 attendees to protest the raids. It was organized by a group called PRIDE, which stood for Personal Rights in Defense and Education. The protest was met by squadrons of armed policemen, and as far as we can find, this is the first time the word "pride" was used in conjunction with an organized gay event. It was from this event that The Advocate began as a newspaper for PRIDE, and that small publication would eventually grow into the major LGBTQ news source that it is today. Together the raid on the Black Cat Tavern, and later the raid on The Patch in August 1968, also inspired the formation of the Metropolitan Community Church.

These events pre-dated the Stonewall riots by over two years.

The Black Cat Tavern closed and was reborn many times, with names like Tabasco's, Basgo's, Bushewacker's and Club F**K, but its most recent incarnation was as Le Barcito. The site was named a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument on November 7, 2008 and the original sign depicting a black and white cat is still posted on the building today.

There's no word of what will go into the space, but foodie site Eater LA has posted rumors that a popular local restaurant will open a second location there.

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