NEW YORK (AP) — A pioneering gay activist who led a 1966 “sip-in” at a New York City bar has died at the age of 83.
Dick Leitsch (LIGHTSH) died Friday at a hospice in Manhattan. His death from liver cancer was confirmed by his brother, John Leitsch, of Louisville, Kentucky.
Leitsch was a leader of the Mattachine Society, an early gay rights group.
His “sip-in” protest was meant to echo lunch counter sit-ins. Leitsch and three friends sat down at a bar and announced, “We are homosexuals.”
The bartender clapped his hand over Leitsch’s glass and refused to serve them. The moment was captured by a Village Voice photographer.
The protest led the state liquor authority to end its practice of using patronage by gay people as an excuse to revoke liquor licenses.