The Stage

1950s-1960s: Homophile Movement (cont’d)

Public Protest

On Sept.19, 1964, Craig Rodwell, Randy Wicker, and other activists and representatives of the New York League for Sexual Freedom picketed the Whitehall Induction Center in New York City to protest the military’s anti-homosexual policies. This may have been homosexuals&rsquo first public protest in the U.S.

Numerous protests occurred in 1965. In April, activists protested discrimination in the U.S. and Cuba against homosexuals. Their small but visible demonstrations in front of the United Nations building in New York City brought attention to their cause. In May, the East Coast Homophile Organizations staged the first demonstration in front of the White House. Seven men, including Jack Nichols, and three women, including Judy Grahn, picketed. Wire services reported on the event. In July, demonstrators picketed the Pentagon to protest discrimination in the military. In August, demonstrators protesting anti-gay policies picketed the State Department for the first time. Then in October 1965, the East Coast Homophile Organizations sponsored a second demonstration at the White House, just 5 months after its first. The FBI reported 35 picketers.

The October 1965 Ladder featured this season of protest.

Front and back covers of The Ladder, Oct. 1965. Human Sexuality Collection.
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On July 4, 1965, a small group of lesbians and gay men, including Barbara Gittings and Franklin Kameny, picketed Independence Hall in Philadelphia, site of the signing of the U.S. Declaration of Independence. This public demonstration for equal rights for homosexuals was repeated annually through 1969.

The 1958 cover of the Ladder shows that the concept of democracy and the promise of equality expressed in the Declaration of Independence were compelling to early activists.

The Ladder, July 1958. Human Sexuality Collection.

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