The Black Cat in Silver Lake becomes California's first LGBTQ+ historical landmark

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Tuesday, October 3, 2023
The Black Cat becomes California's first LGBTQ+ historical landmark
Years before the Stonewall riots in NYC, The Black Cat Tavern was raided by undercover LAPD officers. 14 men were beaten and arrested while others were charged with same-sex kissing. This event led to hundreds of protestors and demonstrations and was Southern California's first public protest for gay rights.

A historic day for The Black Cat in Silver Lake. It was named California's first LGBTQ+ historical landmark - a six year effort by the California Landmark Foundation.

"Share this story, keep our rights protected, keep our landmark history alive," said Silver Lake resident Daniel Henning.

Originally known as The Black Cat Tavern, many people know The Black Cat as a neighborhood bar - a community joint for a beer and a burger. Its history runs deep in Silver Lake, and its hanging on the walls.

On New Year's Eve, 1967, undercover LAPD officer's raided the bar and 14 men were beaten, arrested and charged with lewd conduct for same-sex kissing.

RELATED: The Black Cat in Silver Lake marks 50th anniversary of 1st LGBT civil rights protest in US

Activists like 87-year-old Alexei Romanoff helped organize the first documented LGBTQ+ rights movement in the country in front of The Black Cat. That demonstration predated the Stonewall Riots by two years.

"I wish you all to have as good of a life as I have had because our community created it for us," Romanoff said.

The Black Cat was designated a Los Angeles historic cultural monument in 2008.

The ceremony for the new plaque on Sunset Boulevard bringing out community members, residents, city and state representatives like city council member Hugo Soto-Martinez and state Assemblymember Wendy Carrillo.

This recognition comes on the first day of LGBTQ+ History Month.

"Our intent is to keep this building here, keep the name going, keep the story alive and represent that for the next generation," said The Black Cat co-owner Lindsay Kennedy.