Timeline - 1969-1982: Community Foundations

Kenny Kerr, 1980s

1969 – 1982: Community Foundations

  • 1969: Las Vegas entertainer Kenny Kerr remembers being at the Stonewall Riots
  • January 16, 1970: Cocktail waitress Marge Jacques buys the Club de Paris and changes its name to Le Café. Le Café functions as the de facto gay and lesbian community center for Las Vegas, and in 1971 begins publishing Gay Notes from Le Café, the gay community's first publication, compiled by Rafaél Navarré.Le Café is torched and closes in 1978. Le Café set a new standard on the quality of gay bars in Las Vegas. Openly gay, Marge's political activities in the 1970s established the political consciousness of Las Vegas's gay community.
  • March 14, 1974: An article in the Las Vegas Review-Journal notes that Rev. Clonnie Lambert is pastor of a Las Vegas chapter of the Metropolitan Community Church (MCC). In October, 1979, a new chapter of the Metropolitan Community Church in Las Vegas conducts its first service in St. Matthew's Episcopal Church at 4709 S. Nellis Boulevard. Rev. Ron Gee officiates and from this day MCC-Las Vegas becomes one of the cornerstones of the gay community.
Le Cafe Neon Sign
  • May 1, 1975: The American Civil Liberties Union [ACLU] opens an office in Las Vegas with a $5,000 grant from the national office. In 1977, the ACLU-Las Vegas sponsors a gay rights seminar at the Clark County Library on Flamingo Road. The gay community’s first newspaper, Vegas Gay Times, is published in 1978 "in conjunction with" the ACLU's Human Rights Committee.
  • October 2, 1976: The first Reno Gay Rodeo is held at the Washoe County Fairgrounds in Reno. The event is closed to the general public. The rodeo's presence in Reno is contentious. In 1981, Lt. Governor Myron Leavitt, remarking on the Reno Gay Rodeo (RGR), says, "I'm strongly opposed to queers using public property. ... They call them queers because they've got a screw loose." Governor Robert List follows this up on March 27 by complaining, "I just don't like the notion that the nation looks toward Nevada as the gay rodeo capital." Within a few years, the group reorganizes and moves its base of operation to southern Nevada. On August 10, 2002, the Nevada Gay Rodeo Association celebrates its 10th anniversary at Badlands.
Reno Gay Rodeo Flyer
  • May 13, 1977Boylesque opens at the Silver Slipper Casino, starring Kenny Kerr as "Mr. Barbra Streisand, Mr. Marlene Dietrich, Mr. Carol Channing, and Mr. Diana Ross." The show sets a new standard for female impersonation productions, and soon becomes a Las Vegas institution. Initially reluctant to be openly gay, Kenny Kerr goes on to become one of the Las Vegas gay community's most thoughtful and honored leaders. 
  • July 31, 1977: The Las Vegas Review-Journal begins a two-part series on gays in Las Vegas. The series is generally positive, but still depicts the gay community in Las Vegas as a shadowy netherworld turned in on itself through fear. Marge Jacques, owner of Le Café, reflects Las Vegas's homophobic attitude when she declines to give addresses for the city's other gay bars, and when she says, "Gays wear a mask here when they are in the straight world."
  • January 13, 1979: The first meeting of Nevadans for Human Rights (NHR) is held. Incorporated in the fall of 1978 as a non-profit political group, NHR is Nevada's first gay rights organization. NHR formally adopts theVegas Gay Times as its newsletter.
This is Boylesque
  • March 15, 1979: Following on the heels of anti-gay state measures such as California’s recently defeated Proposition 6 (the “Briggs Initiative”), Democratic Assemblywoman Karen Hayes announces plans to introduce a bill allowing school officials to fire or refuse to hire gay people.
  • September 24, 1979: Nevada Senator Paul Laxalt introduces the Family Protection Act of 1979 [Senate Bill 1808], a 57-page omnibus of conservative religious and social values that was, among other things, anti-abortion and anti-gay.
  • January 27, 1980: The Camp David bathhouse opens at 2631 South Highland Avenue. It becomes not only a center for socializing but an important site for safe sex education and activism. 
  • June, 1982: The Southern Nevada Social Service Center, which operates Las Vegas's Gay Switchboard, releases a detailed master plan to establish a Las Vegas Gay Community Center.