The Black Cat

The birthplace of the LGBTQ+ Civil Rights Movement

Black Cat Tavern Demonstrators with Protest Signs

The Black Cat 

In celebration of LGBTQ+ Pride Month, and recognizing the vibrant community of Angelenos that work at the Natural History Museums of Los Angeles County, we are bringing you stories from L.A.’s LGBTQ+ past and present. Los Angeles is home to many vibrant and diverse LGBTQ+ communities, and the Black Cat is just one story of people, places, organizations, and events that have shaped Los Angeles and beyond.

Join Gallery Interpreter Steven Mendoza as he shares the story of the Black Cat, known by many as the birthplace of the LGBTQ+ Civil Rights Movement. 

Steven Mendoza Headshot

Steven Mendoza (he/him/his) is a Gallery Interpreter at NHMLAC. In his spare time, you may find him admiring ancient art in the Museum's Visible Vault, playing with his tortoises, or brushing up on Los Angeles history. "The Museum's Becoming L.A. exhibit really strikes a chord with me," Steven explains. "There are so many untold stories in the city's history; bold rebellions and impassioned people fighting for their civil rights. Our struggles continue as we create a city where we can authentically be ourselves. It is a privilege to share these brave stories."


These stories are just a few representations of LGBTQ+ stories in L.A.  In every neighborhood and community, LGBTQ+ individuals and organizations have historically shaped the city, and they continue to do so today. Visit ONE Archive’s Queer Terrains to explore a map of more historic locations. 

We also want to hear your stories! If you were to make a map of your LGBTQ+ L.A., what would you add? What places have shaped you and the communities you are a part of? Where do you see LGBTQ+ history being made today? 

Upload a photo on your Instagram story and tell us why that place is significant to you. Tag @NHMLA with #PrideMonth and your post could be featured on @NHMLA’s Stories!