June 14, 2021 9:48 PM   Subscribe

Zapping: The boisterous protest tactic that ignited early LGBTQ activism Designed to disrupt the status quo and gain support for gay rights, these theatrical tactics included everything from duck costumes to pie throwing. [National Geographic] Archive link.

Bonus Zap: Gay Activists Alliance Zap at the New York City Marriage Bureau in 1971. With source film of the incident.
posted by hippybear (8 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
I vividly remember Ms. B being zapped with the pie. That was a red letter day for queer folks. It should be a holiday.
posted by james33 at 3:43 AM on June 15 [7 favorites]

Learning that it was a strawberry-rhubarb pie makes the story even more delicious.
posted by whatevernot at 4:17 AM on June 15 [2 favorites]

It seems clear to me that Zapping inspired a lot of the ACT Up actions in the following decades, although those were less whimsical (for rather obvious reasons).
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:38 AM on June 15

Thank you for this! It's so important to me to be able to understand the lineage of the the protests that I participate in -- and to be able to thank those that have paved the way.
posted by mcduff at 8:00 AM on June 15 [2 favorites]

Huh this is new history to me, and I say this as someone who was organizing Queer Nation happenings in the early 90s. In deliberate imitation of ACT-UP! strategies but I didn't know the history from the 70s. I wonder if there's a direct continuity from the 70s activist to the ACT-UP! activists; the article just says "bore a resemblance".

The zap tactics also remind me of the Yippies who were doing political theater protests in the late 60s and early 70s. The actions I know from them are more conceptual than just interrupting things. But then again they were throwing pies at people.

PS: as far as the NatGeo paywall knows, my email address is I hope she gets the spam!
posted by Nelson at 9:29 AM on June 15 [2 favorites]

That was a red letter day for queer folks. It should be a holiday.

October 14, 1977

What shall be the name of this day?
posted by eustatic at 6:58 AM on June 16

Anita Pie in the Face Day? (“No, YOU need a…”) etc etc
posted by profreader at 9:34 AM on June 16

As an ACT UP alum, I'll say that we still called actions "zaps" and that there was a direct and unbroken line from the 70s activism to what we were doing. In SF at least, a number of our members were former Weather Underground and related groups. They very directly educated those of us who were much younger in how to do direct action and civil disobedience. This past weekend we held a memorial service for one of those members from ACT UP/SF and it was great to hear stories about how they had been involved in a variety of different political actions before they helped found ACT UP here.
posted by gingerbeer at 5:14 PM on June 16 [1 favorite]

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