CRH Mardi Gras Ball

1st January


In 1964 the Council on Religion and the Homosexual (CRH) formed with the idea of bringing different Christian leaders together with leaders in the Gay community in San Francisco to discuss Gay issues and pursue more rights for the gay community. To raise funds for the organisation a costume ball was put on at California Hall in San Francisco on 1st January 1965 and was attended by both clergy members and gay couples.

The Ball immediately faced hostility with many people trying to stop it going ahead. The San Francisco Police Department attempted to force the owner of the hall to cancel the event which resulted in leading Clergy holding a meeting with the Police who agreed not to interfere with the dance. When it came to the night of the Ball guests found themselves being photographed and intimidated by policemen with riot gear and paddy wagons, as they entered and left the building. Officers also attempted to enter the venue several times though lawyers for CRH claimed by law they could not enter without a ticket. Two of the lawyers were arrested for obstructing police officers. The case against the lawyers was dismissed after clergy from CRH held a press conference outlining the contradictions between what the police department had said they would do and their aggressive, anti-gay actions on the night.

The Mardi Gras Ball highlighted the daily harassment Gay folk experienced and spurred the CRH into action and resulted in the setting up of a 24hr phone line to report police misconduct and the popularisation of the Gay rights movement in the San Francisco Bay area.

A prayer for the CRH Mardi Gras Ball:

God of Love and of Compassion we give you thanks for the CRH and their Mardi Gras Ball. We ask that you give us the same burning desire to act against injustice when we see it and to speak out in the face of intimidation and oppression. We ask also that you may uncover and destroy institutional homophobia wherever it may be found. In your most Holy name Amen.

Suggested Bible Reading:

Isaiah 9.2-5