Dick Leitsch, a titan of the early gay rights movement who led "sip-in" protests in the 1960s, died in New York City on Friday, Ken Lustbader, the co-director of NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project confirmed to NBC News. He was 83.
Leitsch became an icon of the LGBTQ movement after leading protests that pre-dated the Stonewall Inn uprising, increasing the momentum of the gay rights movement.
"Without Dick and people like him who are brave, courageous and risked so much when being out was so dangerous, we wouldn’t be here today," Lustbader said.
Born on May 11, 1935, Leitsch moved to New York City in 1959 from his home state of Kentucky.
He went on to lead the the New York City chapter of the Mattachine Society, one of the oldest gay rights organizations in the country. It was during his time at the Mattachine Society that he came up with the idea for "sip-ins."
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