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LGBT+ History Month: the Cooper Donuts Riot – 1959

https://sayit.org.uk/lgbt-history-month-the-cooper-donuts-riot-1959/


For LGBT+ History Month we asked the SAYiT Team to tell us about the people, events, and organisations in LGBT+ history that are important to them. SAYiT LGBT+ Domestic Abuse Development Worker, Heather Paterson, has written this important piece on the Cooper Donuts riots that took place in 1959 (10 years before the Stonewall riots). The riot was the inspiration behind Heather’s tattoo and the reason she has 1959 tattooed on her arm – not the year she was born as a young person once asked!


Last year we saw numerous events marking the 50th anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall Riots, often cited as the start of the modern LGBT+ rights movement. However, it is less commonly known that Stonewall, rather than being the first uprising, was the last in a decade of acts of rebellion against the attacks on LGBT+ people.


10 years before Stonewall in 1959, the modern LGBT+ rights movement began with a night of queer empowerment and resistance with coffee cups flying from the hands of drag queens, as the LGBT+ community fought back against an ongoing campaign of targeted police brutality and harassment, the inspiration behind this tattoo.


Cooper Donuts was a 24-hour café in Los Angeles, and a well-known hang out for trans and gender diverse people. LA law at the time dictated that if your gender pre