New Years Eve 1967, over two years before New York’s Stonewall Riots, quickly became violent when several plainclothes officers infiltrated the Black Cat Tavern at 3909 W Sunset to cast out the happy queer patrons canoodling inside. A New Year’s kiss became means for beating and arrest – and for two bar-goers a sex offender conviction (the US Supreme Court ended up never accepting their case).
The event prompted a 200-person demonstration in Silverlake, organized by a group called PRIDE (Personal Rights in Defense and Education). PRIDE would later birth a newspaper called The Advocate – the very same power gay rag we know & love today!
The Black Cat in its current iteration has kept the original feline signage, and inside features framed images from the space’s protest days (see left). The menu boasts all the hipster food you’d expect from a Silverlake gastropub. I went last night and had the steak frites, chicory salad, and shishito peppers – yum! They’ve also got an extensive drinks menu ranging from pricey libations that match the restaurant’s elegant interiors to a bottle of Schlitz poured in a chilled glass (woof).
So bring a date (or if you’re like me, your sugar daddy) and soak up LA’s own little slice of queer history.