On This Gay Day: Deborah Johnson and Zandra Rolón Amato take a stance

On this day in 1983 Deborah Johnson and Zandra Rolón Amato, both veterans of the fight for LGBTIQ equality, headed out for dinner in Los Angeles. Little did they know, a big challenge lay ahead of them.

The couple had booked a booth table at Papa Choux restaurant, they were celebrating the birthday of Dr Martin Luther king. After they had been seated they were told these romantic tables were only for heterosexual couples and the restaurant had a strict policy that two people of the same gender could not be seated here. They were asked to move to a different table.

The women turned down the offer of a table in the general dining area, left, and sued the venue for discrimination.

In the media the restaurant’s owners said they would rather go to jail that be forced to seat same-sex couples in a romantic setting. The venue took out newspapers adds saying the women wanted them to “make a mockery” of romance.

While the lawsuit moved its way through the court system the restaurant held a ‘wake for romance’, and threw a party to announce it was going to remove the booth seats completely, rather than allow same-sex couples to sit there.

The courts eventually ruled in the women’s favour and each was awarded $250 in damages. The restaurant was ordered to pay the women’s legal costs, which came in at around $30,000.

Find out more about their story at Making Gay History podcast site. Which has an excellent interview with Johnson and Rolón Amato.

Also on this day in history

Author Edmund White celebrates his birthday today. White shared his life story in a series of semi-autobiographical novels including A Boy’s Own Story, The Beautiful Room is Empty, and The Farewell Symphony. White has also published several biographies, five volumes of his own memoirs, a play, several novels, and a groundbreaking instruction manual on gay sex.

In 1992 the US magazine OUT begins publishing with a test issue. The official first issue on the newsstands is dated Summer 1992.

In 2014,  Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan signed the controversial ‘Jail the Gays’ law which punishes homosexuality with a 14 year jail term. The law also bans membership in any LGBT rights group. Polls show 98% of Nigerians support the laws.

OIP Staff, this post was first published on 13th January 2020.  

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