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Remembering the forgotten gay activists
(BlogMensGo 15 August 2011) Most of us know that the Stonewall uprising in 1969 kicked off the modern gay rights movement. It was one of the first times that oppression had been countered with such a forceful and public movement.
A lot of people do not know however, that a year earlier, Los Angeles saw it’s own uprising a year before. The Los Angeles times reports and salutes a gay rights pioneer today with the following article:
“When a small mob of gay men armed with flowers marched into the LAPD's Harbor Division station late that August night, the desk sergeant appeared startled.
"We're here to get our sisters out!" said the group's ringleader, Lee Glaze (above, left), co-owner of a popular Wilmington gay bar that had been raided hours earlier.
It was 1968, and Los Angeles police had arrested two of Glaze's male patrons when a plainclothes officer saw one slap the other playfully on the rear.
Glaze, an unapologetically effeminate man known as "Lee the Blond Darling," was furious.
He took to the bar's stage, rallied the crowd and asked if a florist was among them.
When someone raised a hand, Glaze told him, "Honey, go get every flower in your shop."
The flower vigil, which lasted until police released the men on bail, would become a footnote in the gay rights struggle, overshadowed by the Stonewall Inn riots in New York a year later.
This weekend, Glaze was honored by the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, a gay rights group known by its membership of men who don nun habits and wear heavy and colourful makeup!
Glaze says that back then a city ordinance prohibited men from dancing with one another, some night clubs would only allow in trusted patrons to keep out undercover vice officers. Gay men dared not challenge the authorities for fear that the police would ‘out’ closeted gays to their families and employers.
Glaze did not plan on being the activist but he said that he ‘was mad that the cops kept coming around’ and clearly he took action!