Black History Month Spotlight: Queer Nightlife Pioneer Jewel Thais-Williams

Every weekday this month, we’re profiling fascinating figures from L.A.’s Black history

For a running list of all our 2021 Black History Month profiles, click here.

An LBGTQI legend, Jewel Thais-Williams opened the famous nightclub Jewel’s Catch One on Pico Boulevard in 1973. The country’s oldest Black-owned disco, Jewel’s Catch One was a safe haven for Black queer Angelenos and saw everyone from Madonna to Sammy Davis Jr. to Whitney Houston pass through its doors.

Seeing the ravages of the AIDS epidemic up close, Thais-Williams became a tireless advocate, co-founding the Minority AIDS Project, Rue’s House, and the Village Health Foundation.

She sold Jewel’s Catch One in 2015, but the bonds made there will never be broken. “It was a community, it was family,” Thais-Williams told the Los Angeles Times. “To be honest myself, I was pretty much a loner too. I always had the fears of coming out, or my family finding out. I found myself there.”

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