Sip-In Anniversary at Julius’ 55 Years Later

A mirror at Julius' Bar.
Julius’ on the 55th anniversary of the “sip-in in 2021.
Donna Aceto

A small group of patrons made their way to Julius’ Bar on April 21 to commemorate the 55th anniversary of the 1966 “Sip-In,” which protested the State Liquor Authority’s policy targeting bars serving LGBTQ customers.

It was just a few years before the Stonewall Uprising when members of the Mattachine Society descended on a series of bars, including Julius’ at 159 W 10th Street and tried to buy drinks in an effort to shine a light on the policy preventing bars from serving LGBTQ patrons. At the time, liquor licenses were pulled from establishments serving LGBTQ customers since they were perceived as “disorderly.”

Instagram, but in real life!Donna Aceto

With a news crew in tow, Dick Leitsch, Craig Rodwell, and John Timmons went to multiple bars as part of a publicity stunt that concluded at Julius’, where they were joined by Randy Wicker. While some bars served them and others were closed, they finally got rejected at Julius,’ where a photographer snapped an iconic photo.

Julius’ owner Helen Buford poses at the spot where the sip-in took place.Donna Aceto

The men stated, “We are homosexuals. We are orderly, we intend to remain orderly, and we are asking for service.”

The request prompted the bartender to put his hand over a glass to deny them drinks.

“Only Julius’ refused to serve us that day,” Wicker, who was in attendance at the April 21 event, said in 2016. “Several others willingly obliged our request for a drink, but Julius’ did not want to become a known gay bar. They would police the door and if it got to be too many males inside, they would not let a man in unless accompanied by a female.”

The protest, however, successfully contributed to changes and paved way for the rights of out queer people to drink at bars in the city.

Julius’ is believed to be the oldest LGBTQ bar in New York City, but the spot has faced financial difficulties during the pandemic.

Artist Tyler Wallach (center) surrounded by friends in their outdoor COVID bubble.Donna Aceto
There are no hands covering their glasses!Donna Aceto
A bartender who will actually serve you!Donna Aceto
Longtime patrons of the bar joked that they were being “outed” by Gay City News.Donna Aceto

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