The Macksey Journal


This paper will identify the consequences of the San Francisco Police Department’s (SFPD) regulation of gay bars and analyze how these consequences impacted the civil rights of gay men and lesbians from 1960 to 1965. Ultimately, I argue that the SFPD’s regulation of gay bars created a campaign of surveillance and harassment that led to the extortion of bar owners and targeted arrests of queer people. The acts of the SFPD engendered increased social and political activism in local gay and lesbian communities that challenged the oppressive sociopolitical structures of the time. To support this argument, this paper will discuss various laws, police raids, and people of prominence during the early 1960s in order to provide a foreground for the type and degree of exploitation gay and lesbian bars faced. Periodicals of San Francisco gay and lesbian organizations, firsthand experiences of queer people in San Francisco during the 1960s and newspaper articles will offer considerable insight into the SFPD’s role in policing gay bars and the response of local gay and lesbian communities.