NY gay bar closed by health department

Julius on Waverly Place at 10th Ave in The Village

New York’s oldest (sort of) gay bar — Julius — was closed by the board of health this week. Julius is located one block up and one block over from the Stonewall Inn.

The bar opened in 1867. Not until 1966 was it officially a gay bar. But for years, gay men hung out at Julius, even though they were subject to constant harassment.

As Greenwich Village became more and more gay during the 1950s and ’60s, its gay residents hung out at this friendly neighborhood bar. People like Tennessee Williams and Truman Capote used to go to Julius.

Nearby Stonewall was not nearly as nice (or historic) as Julius and Stonewall was known more as a hangout for drag queens (and people like Dallas’ Phyllis Guest who was at Stonewall the night of the raid).

Owners of Julius resisted having the bar turn gay, so they enforced the New York State Liquor Authority rule that prevented bartenders from serving the disorderly. Homosexuals were included in the liquor authority’s definition of disorderly — which makes this a good place to insert that this is one of the first gay bars I ever hung out in after I came out in college and hung out in Greenwich Village in the early ’70s. I was probably attracted to this bar at the time because scenes from the film Boys in the Band — the only gay film out there at the time — were filmed at Julius.

In 1966, in a final attempt to keep gays out, Julius hung a sign after a police raid that said, “This is a raided premises.” The hope was that gays who were afraid of being arrested, exposed as gay and fired from their jobs would stay away.

The Mattachine Society had filed a lawsuit challenging the liquor authority’s rules, claiming a right to assemble. That was followed by an investigation by the city’s Human Rights Commission. Mattachine won its suit and sometime that year, Julius’ owner realized his clientele was gay, had been gay and the neighborhood was becoming more gay. It’s been a gay bar — officially — since then.

Owners said they plan to clean up the mouse and roach problem that caused the health department to close the place and, after a new inspection this week, be reopened by the weekend.

Big news for Dallas? Not at all. But when I saw a news item about Julius, it brought back memories of being a kid hanging out in the Village.

And many people think gay history— and gay people — began with Stonewall on June 28, 2008. We were actually around — and going to bars, protesting, organizing and living our lives — long before that.

—  David Taffet

FEEDBACK: Mexico safe if you use sense; Supporting James Nowlin for City Council

Mexico is safe if you use sense

Allan Turnipseed

Having just returned to Dallas in September 2010, after living almost three years in México City, I read with strong interest David Webb’s column, “A cautionary tale for LGBT travelers” (Dallas Voice, Feb. 4, 2011).

At first I took the commentary as cautionary; one needs to be vigilant whereever we live. Well, I took it that way until I got to the ending: “But hopefully it will be a strong reminder to all Americans that caution is more critical than ever when undertaking travel south of the border.”

With all the negative treatment México is getting in the U.S. press because of the drug wars, my only thought was, “Here is another negative murder story, one that doesn’t relate to the current problem.”

The whole time I lived in the largest city of the Americas, México City, I never felt danger when walking home late at night. I would often stroll along México City’s Paseo de la Refoma Avenue alone without ever any hesitation.

But I was always cautious. One has to be in any large mega city.

When returning to Dallas, I moved to Oak Lawn, three blocks behind where the old Tom Thumb used to be. Even before signing my lease I couldn’t help but remember when a young man was robbed and killed after having used an ATM machine on the corner of Throckmorton and Cedar Springs in 2007.

I also remembered I was moving close to the area where not too long ago a gentleman was shot and almost killed as he walked to his neighborhood bar.

So when I read, “that caution is more critical that ever when undertaking travel south of the border,” I just had to write and say not only “south of the border” but in Dallas, too. We have to be vigilant everywhere.

When I was living in México City, a city with 25 million people, I felt safe. But now that I am in Dallas, living in Oak Lawn, I don’t dare walk the three blocks to Kroger after dark.

I have deep sympathy for Allan Turnipseed, the former Dallas resident killed last month in Lake Chapala, and for his partner.

But from my perspective, Mr. Turnipseed didn’t just get too comfortable living in Lake Chapala, as columnist David Webb described it. Mr. Turnipseed also let his guard down.

He let two homeless teenagers into his surroundings — something I would never do in Dallas or in México.

Homeless and teenage males sound like a dangerous combination anywhere — especially in México, where poverty is so widespread.

But is México safe? Yes, if one uses caution and common sense.

Jesus Chairez, Dallas

Supporting James Nowlin for City Council

James Nowlin

I was so pleased to see your online article saying that James Nowlin is “in it to win it” in the Dallas City Council District 14 race (Instant Tea, Wednesday, Feb. 9).

Having a member of the LGBT community on our City Council who is qualified to serve is critical, and I’m excited that we have a candidate we can all get behind. As a community, the opportunity has come (once again) for us to support someone who knows our particular issues as well as the common concerns that all of the residents of District 14 have, regardless of sexual orientation.

These opportunities do not come frequently, and we don’t always win at the ballot box when they do. That is why it is crucial to make sure we do what we can to have a place at the table.

During her time on the council, Angela Hunt shifted her focus from representing District 14 to running a city-wide campaign. She made a name for herself (and polarized the district and the city) by taking controversial positions on the Trinity River toll road and the convention center hotel. Then, she cast the swing vote to raise property taxes.

Now, due to an obvious lack of preparation, she has decided not to run for mayor and to settle for holding on to the District 14 seat. I think the residents of District 14 deserve better than that.

I may be biased, but I believe Dallas has the most vital, diverse and strong LGBT community in the country, as evidenced by all that I have witnessed and participated in over more than 30 years living here.

It is very exciting news that James is following through on his commitment to service in District 14.

Craig McCartney, Dallas

Thank you so much for your article regarding James Nowlin and his intention to continue his ongoing efforts to win the Dallas City Council District 14 seat in May — despite the recent announcement by Councilwoman Angela Hunt that she will run for re-election to that seat.

I believe that James Nowlin will be an excellent representative for District 14 on the City Council. His commitment to the community has already been demonstrated by his considerable volunteer work with various organizations. James also demonstrated his leadership when he announced his intention to run for the City Council seat while Councilwoman Hunt vacillated between running to retain the District 14 seat, running for mayor or (ostensibly) pursuing some other career choice.

As a resident of District 14, I want my city councilperson to be someone who truly possesses a desire to serve the district — not an individual who looks at the seat as a “consolation prize” when her desire to be mayor was thwarted by individuals better prepared to run for the mayor’s seat than she.

I wholeheartedly support James Nowlin in his bid for this seat, and I encourage every reader of this newspaper to find out more about James and his hopes for District 14 and for the city of Dallas.

Eric D. Johnson, Dallas

—  John Wright