The Advocate is the oldest and largest gay publication in the United States with a publication date of 1967.
New Year's Eve 1967: plain-clothed LAPD officers staked out the Black Cat Tavern, a gay bar on the Silver Lake strip of Sunset Boulevard. When the clock struck midnight and couples kissed to celebrate the new year, officers sprang their trap and began assaulting and arresting Black Cat patrons. The officers beat patrons with batons and pool cues. The violence spilled onto Sunset Boulevard and eventually into New Faces, another gay bar nearby, after two men fled there for refuge. Officers made fourteen arrests for “lewd conduct.” Civilians from both establishments, including the female owner and two employees of New Faces were hospitalized.
In response to the raid and excessive brutality, PRIDE (Personal Rights in Defense and Education) and the Southern California Council on Religion and Homophile organized a protest on February 11, 1967 and also organized fundraising for those arrested. Two members of PRIDE, Richard Mitch and Bill Rau spearheaded the transformation of PRIDE’s monthly newsletter to a newspaper focusing on gay issues and named the publication The Los Angeles Advocate.
In 1969, Mitch shortened the name of the publication to The Advocate and began nationwide distribution becoming the first nationwide publication with a focus on gay issues. This placed it in the perfect position to cover the budding Gay Rights movement. Later that same year, the Stonewall riots broke out in New York City’s Greenwich Village. The Advocate covered these and subsequent events of the accelerating movement. Many point to the Stonewall riots as the beginning of the LGBTQ movement; however, they had their precedent in the reaction to the Black Cat Tavern raid and were fostered by the growing sense of gay solidarity and gay pride cultivated by The Advocate. [courtesy College of the Mainland, TX]