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PRIDE Collection tracks inception of The Advocate

A photograph of a protest organized by PRIDE following the police raid at the Black Cat Tavern is among the items featured in the USC Libraries collection. (Photo/Courtesy of USC Libraries)

Established in 1966, the Personal Rights in Defense and Education (PRIDE) group set out to combat police harassment of homosexuals and provide a social outlet for gay men in Los Angeles. Founded by Steve Ginsburg, co-chair of the 1973 Gay Freedom Day Parade in San Francisco, the gay rights organization existed for only two years but made a profound and lasting impact.

The PRIDE Collection at the USC Libraries consists of posters, leaflets and images from those years, as well as early copies of relevant publications, among other items.

Taking a more radical and less conservative approach to advocacy than other gay rights groups of the era, PRIDE excelled at organizing disenfranchised youth into large groups to demonstrate against any group or person that denied the gay community equal rights or dignity.

On Feb. 11, 1967, PRIDE organized a peaceful demonstration protesting the Los Angeles Police Department’s raid of the Black Cat Tavern, a gay bar in the Silverlake neighborhood of Los Angeles. Undercover vice squad officers beat and arrested gay male patrons on the evening of Dec. 31, 1966, for openly engaging in the traditional New Year’s Eve kiss.

PRIDE’s action in response to the Black Cat Tavern incident was one of the earliest organized gay rights demonstrations in the United States. Two years later, the Stonewall Riots, a series of spontaneous demonstrations protesting police raids at the Stonewall Inn in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of New York City, would usher in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer and transgender/transsexual (LGBTQ) rights movement.

Prior to the police raid on the Black Cat Tavern, PRIDE published a single-page monthly newsletter that would become The Los Angeles Advocate. The original newsletter provided legal advice and printed an updated list of gay-friendly bars in the Los Angeles area. The Los Angeles Advocate would later evolve into the oldest and largest LGBTQ publication in the United States. Now known simply as The Advocate, the publication still runs monthly and covers the LGBTQ community.

PRIDE also created a small instructional booklet called The Pocket Lawyer for people to carry in the event that they were arrested for homosexual conduct. The booklet made clear an individual’s right to refuse to make a statement or to give personal information, such as employment.

For more information about the PRIDE Collection, contact the ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives at the USC Libraries at (213) 741-0094 or ask

PRIDE Collection tracks inception of The Advocate

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