Professor Stein Discusses Historic LGBTQ Sit-In at Philadelphia Lunch Counter

Monday, June 24, 2019

VICE -- Influenced heavily by the Black civil rights movement and demonstrations like the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycotts and the 1960 Woolworth’s lunch counter sit-in, LGBTQ people became more defiant in their political activism during the 1960s.

“As the homophile movement of the 1950s grew stronger into the ’60s and ‘70s,” says Marc Stein, professor of History at San Francisco State University, “LGBTQ people began to feel emboldened and discovered the courage they needed during a powerful period of social movements.”

One example is the earliest known LGBTQ sit-in, which took place on April 25, 1965, at Dewey’s lunch counter in Philadelphia. The eatery had become a hub for LGBTQ people in Philly, but that spring, staff began denying service to any customers who appeared to be gay or gender non-conforming. On April 25, approximately 150 people were denied service for that reason, according to Stein’s City Of Sisterly and Brotherly Loves: Lesbian And Gay Philadelphia, 1945 – 1972. But three teenagers decided that they wouldn’t leave.