Historic Dewey’s Lunch Counter Sit In Site Permanently Closing

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When the LGBT Media Journalists Convening happened in Philadelphia in 2014, the host hotel for it was right across the street from a trans historical site in Dewey’s Lunch Counter.

52 years ago today a successful sit in a protest jumped off by African-American gender variant teens who were told they would be refused service if they were not in gender appropriate attire happened here.

This happened a year before Compton’s Cafeteria in San Francisco and four years before Stonewall. The Deweys protest was also another instance of a trans themed protest happening in the US and one that we know of with significant African-American involvement.

Since 1978 a 24 hour eatery has been open in the former Dewey’s space called Little Pete’s.  I’d eaten there with a strange sense of deja vu not long after I arrived in Philly and got settled into my #LGBTMedia14 hotel room.   I spotted it while gazing out the window of my room, was still hungry from my travel day, and just decided to check it out and grab something to eat there since it was close.

I was told a few hours later at the opening LGBT Media mixer event by a Philadelphia attendee who knows my love of history that we were across the street from the old Dewey’s, and subsequently told all the trans journalists we were right across the street from a trans historical site.

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During a break in Saturday’s LGBT Media programming, all the trans journalists in attendance,  myself, Gwen Smith, Dawn Ennis, Gretchen Hammond, Jos Truitt, Cristan Williams and Becky Juro along with NLGJA executive director Adam Pawlus walked across the street to take a photo in front of Little Pete’s and pay respects to our sadly unknown elders who participated in that trans humanity centric protest.

Well peeps, if you wish to replicate that photo, better do it soon because the sad news I’m hearing is that Little Pete’s will be permanently closing next month,   Its last day of business will be May 29, and after that it has a date with a wrecking ball to make room for a Hyatt Centric hotel.

It’s always sad to me when a historic site closes,   Here’s hoping that someone in the Philly LGBT community will work to have a historical marker placed at that spot where Black trans history was made once the new hotel is completed.

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