Saturday, September 11, 2010
Fagots Stay Out
This is the sign that hung in a neighborhood bar in West Hollywood from the mid-fifties to 1970. This is how Morris Kight tells the story:
"This sign was a great catalyst for the gay movement. In spring of 1970 we did a change-in, sit-in, shop in, boycott and picket. It took all that to persuade [the owner] to surrender us the sign and to never discriminate again in employment or service."
The pickets went on for months and in an unusual twist for the times the LA County Sheriff's were on the side of the demonstrators. Especially odd since the sign went up in the fifties when the Sheriff's Department warned the owner that his place was picking up "a reputation."
So the the sign came down in 1970 and became a central piece in the Morris Kight Collection. The new owner of the place (escrow hadn't even closed when the demonstrations began) enjoyed the free publicity that the sign (and the demonstrations) generated that he scrawled out a new fagots stay out sign (questionable spelling and all). That sign would get taken down and put back up over the years. At one point, he even had it match books printed. Finally, West Hollywood incorporated in 1984 and the very first thing the newly elected mayor did was to march into the bar and demand that that sign come down and that discrimination against homosexuals would no longer be tolerated.
Washington D.C., did you hear that?