Item Spotlight: “Gay people: have we come this far only to leave behind some of us?” 1971


(Find this document and other artifacts at our online archives.)

In October 1971, local gay bar Lost and Found opened its doors for the first time – into a storm of controversy. Protesting Lost and Found’s discriminatory admissions policy, a coalition of local organizations picketed the new club. This flyer, dated October 23, 1971, outlines the bar’s “flagrant discrimination against gay blacks and women.” At the core of the complaints is the bar’s stringent I.D. requirements, enforced selectively on black patrons to restrict their admission. The flyer also condemns the “double standard dress requirement” that prohibited women from wearing blue jeans.

This document suggests a moment of shifting consciousness in the gay community, as the white male “mainstream” moved to absorb black and female struggles. “We who represent you in our struggle to improve the quality of gay life,” the flyer proclaims, “have come belately to the recognition that we are not just the defender of white, male homosexuals, but the representative of all gay people.”

This item was generously contributed by Bruce Pennington and can be found in our collection Bruce Pennington Papers, 1947-2003. For photos, documents, and other artifacts related to the Lost and Found club, check out our Lost and Found tag. To learn more about racism in the gay community, explore our racism tag.