The first gay sit-in happened 50 years ago

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Marc Stein is the Jamie and Phyllis Pasker Professor of History at San Francisco State University. He is the author of "Rethinking the Gay and Lesbian Movement" (2012), "Sexual Injustice: Supreme Court Decisions from Griswold to Roe" (2010), and "City of Sisterly and Brotherly Loves: Lesbian and Gay Philadelphia, 1945-1972" (2000).

Fifty years ago, three teen-agers in Philadelphia took an extraordinary step by refusing to take a step. Their sit-in began on Sunday, April 25, 1965, at Dewey's restaurant near Rittenhouse Square in Center City. According to an account provided several months later by Clark Polak, a gay-rights leader in Philadelphia, "the action was a result of Dewey's refusal to serve a large number of homosexuals and persons wearing non-conformist clothing."

On the day of the sit-in, more than 150 people were reportedly denied service. When the teen-agers, one female and two male, refused to leave, the police were called, and the three were taken into custody and arrested. Polak, who rushed to the scene and offered to help the three protesters obtain a lawyer, was also arrested. All four were soon found guilty of disorderly conduct.

Click here to read a full account of the protest, which HNN published in 2005.