Date

5-6-2020

Description

San Francisco gay bars experienced many barriers to the public organization of gays and lesbians. Throughout the 1940s and 1950s the city saw waves of police crackdowns on queer public spaces with gay bars often as the main targets. During the early 1960s, following decades of abuses by local authorities, the city's gay and lesbian community responded by increasing their political and social activism to fight for their civil rights. The creation of organizations such as the Tavern Guild were particularly important to the gay and lesbian fight for civil rights. These groups offered effective and community-based solutions that challenged the persistent oppression of San Francisco's gay and lesbian population. The presentation will identify the consequences of the San Francisco Police Department's (SFPD) regulation of gay bars and analyze how these consequences impacted the civil rights of gays and lesbians from 1960 to 1965. Ultimately, I argue that the SFPD's regulation of gay bars created a campaign of surveillance and harassment that led to the extortion of bar owners and targeted arrests of queer people. The acts of the SFPD engendered increased social and political activism in local gay and lesbian communities that challenged the oppressive sociopolitical structures of the time. To support this argument, I discuss various laws, police raids, and people of prominence during the early 1960s in order to provide a foreground for the type and degree of exploitation gay and lesbian bars faced.

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May 6th, 12:00 AM

San Francisco Gay Bars: Challenging Exploitation and Increasing Activism

San Francisco gay bars experienced many barriers to the public organization of gays and lesbians. Throughout the 1940s and 1950s the city saw waves of police crackdowns on queer public spaces with gay bars often as the main targets. During the early 1960s, following decades of abuses by local authorities, the city's gay and lesbian community responded by increasing their political and social activism to fight for their civil rights. The creation of organizations such as the Tavern Guild were particularly important to the gay and lesbian fight for civil rights. These groups offered effective and community-based solutions that challenged the persistent oppression of San Francisco's gay and lesbian population. The presentation will identify the consequences of the San Francisco Police Department's (SFPD) regulation of gay bars and analyze how these consequences impacted the civil rights of gays and lesbians from 1960 to 1965. Ultimately, I argue that the SFPD's regulation of gay bars created a campaign of surveillance and harassment that led to the extortion of bar owners and targeted arrests of queer people. The acts of the SFPD engendered increased social and political activism in local gay and lesbian communities that challenged the oppressive sociopolitical structures of the time. To support this argument, I discuss various laws, police raids, and people of prominence during the early 1960s in order to provide a foreground for the type and degree of exploitation gay and lesbian bars faced.