SF State Historian Marc Stein Publishes Discovery of 1968 Gay Rights Demonstration

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

OUT HISTORY -- Marc Stein is the Jamie and Phyllis Pasker Professor of History at San Francisco State University. He is the author of four books, including “City of Sisterly and Brotherly Loves: Lesbian and Gay Philadelphia” (2000) and “The Stonewall Riots: A Documentary History” (2019). His next book, “Queer Public History: Essays on Scholarly Activism,” will be published by the University of California Press in 2022. Stein wrote this piece for OutHistory.

“On May 9, 1968, one of the largest gay rights demonstrations before the Stonewall Riots of 1969 took place at Bucks County Community College (BCCC) in Newtown, Pennsylvania. Newtown was located 31 miles northeast of Philadelphia and 14 miles west of Trenton,” Stein wrote. “Approximately 200 students rallied in a campus courtyard to protest the college president’s cancellation of a lecture by gay movement leader Richard Leitsch, president of the Mattachine Society of New York. Most of the protesters, students at a two-year college that had opened in 1965, were probably straight and did not think of themselves as gay rights advocates; they were motivated by a combination of support for student rights and opposition to antigay censorship.

“While historians have previously identified more than two dozen pre-Stonewall LGBT demonstrations, sit-ins and riots, this one has been overlooked until now.”