Most people consider 1969’s Stonewall Uprising to be the start of the modern gay rights movement. And in many ways it was: never before had anti-gay oppression been countered so forcefully, or received so much publicity.
As the Los Angeles Times reminds us, however, the City of Angels saw its own uprising of sorts one year earlier:
When a small mob of gay men armed with flowers marched into the LAPD’s Harbor Division station late that August night, the desk sergeant appeared startled.
“We’re here to get our sisters out!” said the group’s ringleader, Lee Glaze (above, left), co-owner of a popular Wilmington gay bar that had been raided hours earlier.
It was 1968, and Los Angeles police had arrested two of Glaze’s male patrons when a plainclothes officer saw one slap the other playfully on the rear.
Glaze, an unapologetically effeminate man known as “Lee the Blond Darling,” was furious.
He took to the bar’s stage, rallied the crowd and asked if a florist was among them.
When someone raised a hand, Glaze told him, “Honey, go get every flower in your shop.”
The flower vigil, which lasted until police released the men on bail, would become a footnote in the gay rights struggle, overshadowed by the Stonewall Inn riots in New York a year later.
After many decades, though, Glaze received some recognition when the pro-gay group Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence gave him “sainthood” this weekend.
As for whether or not he planned on leading a movement, Glaze told the paper it was all happenstance and emotion: “I had no idea what I was doing… I was just mad the cops kept coming around.”