Professor Stein Discusses Historic Sit-in for LGBT Rights in Philadelphia

Thursday, October 05, 2017

LGBTQ NATION -- For Marc Stein, a professor of History at San Francisco State University, the sit-in at Dewey’s not only adds to our knowledge of the past, it also prompts us to re-evaluate our current understanding of LGBT history.

“I think one of the important things to see is that there was a history of these episodes for at least five years before the Stonewall Riots,” Stein said during a telephone interview.

“I think for a lot of us,” he continued, “if there’s one thing we want to challenge, it’s the notion that the movement began at Stonewall or the notion that Stonewall was the first time that gays and lesbians, that LGBT people, fought back.”

The story of the sit-in at Dewey’s may very well have been forgotten if it were not for Stein. The mainstream media ignored the incident then and it received scant attention from scholars before Stein began his research. Fortunately, a handful of men and women mentioned the restaurant to the historian while he was interviewing them for his book, City of Sisterly and Brotherly Loves: Lesbian and Gay Philadelphia, 1945 – 72.