Bars | History

A Pre-Stonewall "Sip-In" for Gay Rights at New York's Oldest Gay Bar

julius restaurant greenwich village

About Julius

 & why it made the Carpe City list

  • The bar, opened in 1864, is not only the city’s oldest gay bar but also one of the oldest continuously operating bars in New York City.   
  • The name Julius dates to around 1930, and the bar began attracting a gay clientele by the late 50s or early 60s. 
  • On April 21st, 1966, members of the New York City Mattachine Society organized a “Sip-In” at Julius to challenge the New York State Liquor Authority Rules prohibiting bars from serving gay people. 
    • After they were refused service, they filed a complaint with the New York Commission on Human Rights. This led to a state court ruling held that gay patrons could not be refused service solely for being gay. 
    • The event was a significant catalyst for the beginning of the Gay Rights movement. 
  • These days, the vibe is convivial and casual.  
    • It’s is a mix of old school decor with festive rainbow-striped kites lining the ceiling,traditional bar offerings, and unique menu items like a beer called “gay beer.”  
  • The bar also throws theme parties, like a monthly Mattachine Dance Party.  
  • If you’re hungry, try their incredible $6 burger! 

Carpe City Trivia

What is the Mattachine Society?

The Mattachine Society was one of the first gay rights organizations in the United States. It was founded in Los Angeles in 1950 by the gay communist labor activist Harry Hay.  

What does Mattachine mean?

The word refers to secret Mediaeval French fraternities where unmarried men toured the countryside performing dances and rituals for the Feast of Fools and the Vernal Equinox.  

By: Lucie Levine

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