Organized by Chris Tyler
A decade before Stonewall and 3000 miles across the country, one of the first LGBT uprisings against police happened right here in Los Angeles. At 547 South Main Street — located between gay bars Harold’s and the Waldorf in the heart of downtown — stood Cooper’s Donuts. In May of 1959, the popular after-hours hotspot was rocked by furious salvos of flying donuts, scalding coffee, and paper plates when a ragtag crew of queers led by drag queens, trans people, hustlers and perverts revolted against the LAPD’s routine harassment. Despite its relative success, this underdocumented riot remains largely unknown to this day — both within and outside of queer circles.
Commemorating the 60th anniversary of 1959’s Cooper’s Donuts Riot, NO CRUISING is a multi-day event of skill shares, sound walks, performances, installations, and discussions exploring queer histories and strategies of resistance to the carceral state. NO CRUISING is an antidote to state-sanctioned Pride celebrations, raising awareness around the ongoing policing of queers – especially people of color, trans and non-binary people, and sex workers. The title refers to a 1997 City Ordinance that legitimized increased surveillance of individuals from these same communities.
NO CRUISING’s inaugural three-day program includes:
- A commemorative performance from Sebastian Hernandez.
- A guided walking tour of queer radicalism around DTLA by Irina Contreras.
- An installation onsite at NAVEL featuring Rubén Esparza’s Ghosted: Crusing/No Cruising, a photographic retrospective depicting active and former cruising sites around the city.
- A panel discussion with scholars, public figures and community organizers hosted by Commune’s Addie Tinnell.
- Community-organized gatherings during open hours at NAVEL*
NO CRUISING culminates in The Happy Organ – an intergenerational party to deepen connection between queer people of different ages. The Happy Organ kicks off with a drag cabaret hosted by Los Angeles’s own Miss Barbie-Q, and includes drag performances and DJ sets throughout the night.
*NAVEL will be available during dedicated hours to members of Los Angeles’s queer community, free-of-charge. Those interested in reserving space for workshops, open mics, group gatherings, meals, etc. should reach out directly to chris@NAVEL.la for more information.
Chris Tyler is a writer, cultural organizer and performing artist examining the intersections of popular culture, collective action and digital identity. Past work includes Little Red Scare (Bushwig), flesh failure (The Civilians R&D Group) and TRL>>>TOTAL REJECTS LIVE!!! (Public Theater/Under the Radar Festival). He is a co-founder of CITIZENS UNITED, a New York-based performance collective inadvertently formed on Election Night 2016. His style has been called “equal parts hilarious and chilling” (Fusion),“precise-yet-butchered” (Out) and “so cute” (Taylor Swift). AB: Brown University.
Visual designed by Jay Are