"SEXUAL PREFERENCE IS IRRELEVANT TO FEDERAL EMPLOYMENT" – “SEXUAL PREFERENCE IS IRRELEVANT TO ANY EMPLOYMENT" – “DENIAL OF EQUALITY OF OPPORTUNITY IS IMMORAL," Barbara Gittings (front), Ernestine Eckstein (fourth from front), and other members of the Eastern Conference of Homophile Organizations (ECHO), The White House, Washington, D.C., October 23, 1965. Photo by Kay Tobin, c/o @nypl.
Between April and September 1965, early queer rights activists—acting under the auspices of the Mattachine Society, the Daughters of Bilitis, or the Eastern Conference of Homophile Organizations—held seven major demonstrations (at the White House on April 17 and May 29, the United Nations on April 18, the Civil Service Commission on June 26, Independence Hall on July 4, the Pentagon on July 31, and the State Department on August 28), ushering in the direct action phase of the homophile movement.
On October 23, 1965, fifty-one years ago today, activists held their final protest of the year, returning for the third time to the White House to demand an end to the bans on federal employment, military service, and security clearances for homosexuals.
Approximately forty-five activists from D.C., New York City, Chicago, Miami, and Philadelphia marched quietly for two hours, handing out leaflets and an open letter to President Johnson.
According to FBI files uncovered decades later, not only were FBI informants present at the demonstration, so too was a small contingent of counter-protesters; specifically, the FBI report describes two teenage males holding placards that read, "ARE YOU KIDDING?" and "GET SERIOUS." #lgbthistory #haveprideinhistory #resist