As an ally to the LGBTQIA+ community I wanted to take an opportunity to reflect on the history of this wonderful body of people in our world as we celebrate pride month. Several of my best friends and family members belong to this group and it is with so much gratitude that I take this time to shed light on some of the milestones that helped this group get the equality and protection they so desperately needed and deserve. Although the fight is still ongoing, it is no doubt in my mind the wonderful places this community will take us.
Let’s start in the year 1924. A young man by the name Henry Gerber who was a German immigrant was committed to a mental institution because of his sexual orientation. Shortly after being released he established the Society for Human Rights, the first American homosexual rights organization.
Then in 1933, the concept of the Pink Triangle emerged. In Nazi Germany the symbol of pink triangles were used in concentration camps to identify male prisoners who were sent there due to their homosexuality. This obvious flagging of inmates led to particularly cruel treatment of gay prisoners often ending in torture and death. Although the pink triangle was originally used as a badge of shame, it has now been reclaimed as an international symbol of gay pride.
Now we are in the year 1955. The Daughter of Bilitis was formed, the first lesbian rights organization. It was founded in San Francisco by Dorothy Martin and Phyllis Lyon. Martin and Lyon would go on to later become the first same sex couple married in San Francisco.
It is now May of 1959 when the first gay uprising took place. Cooper DO-NUTS was a popular gay meeting place located in what at the time was referred to as the “gay ghettos." One night in May, police attempted to arrest three people for legally congregating. A large group of transgendered women and others pelted the officers with donuts, coffee, and paper plates until they were forced to retreat and return with larger numbers. When the cops returned a riot ensued and Main St. was shut down the entire day.
Then in 1961 Illinois became the first state to decriminalize homosexuality. Specifically they decriminalized sodomy and behavior by consenting adults in private. This was pivotal and Henry Gerber, the aforementioned man from our first milestone was lucky enough to witness this in real time.
When August of 1966 rolled around, so did Compton's Cafeteria Riot. This was a riot and protest that followed a police raid on Gene Compton's Cafeteria in San Francisco, which was a popular gathering spot for the transgender community. This was one of the first LGBT related riots, preceding the more famous Stonewall Riots and marked the beginning of transgender activism in San Francisco.
It is now June 28th, 1969 and it is the first day of the Stonewall Riots. In the early morning 9 policemen entered the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in Greenwich village, and took several patrons in accordance with the New York law authorizing the arrest of anyone not wearing gender appropriate clothing. The riot ensued for 5 days.
On June 28th, 1970 the first gay pride week took place. It was just a year after the rebellion at Stonewall and LGBT people from all over New York gathered to commemorate the first anniversary of the gay liberation movement. Then June 25th 1972 the first San Francisco pride parade took place with over 2,000 members and 15,000 spectators.
In January of 1978 Harvey Milk was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and became the first openly gay city official in California history.
On June 25th, 1978 Gilbert Baker designed the rainbow flag as a symbol for the gay liberation movement. Each color represents its own virtue; Pink for sexuality, Red for life, orange for healing, yellow for sun, green for nature, blue for art, indigo for harmony, and violet for spirit.
In 1987 the DSM-5 officially recognized and no longer considered homosexuality as a mental disorder.
Then in 1987 ACT UP (Aids Coalition to Unleash Power) sued the Northwest Orient Airlines in protest of their policy barring people with AIDS from their flights, which resulted in the airlines changing their policy.
In 1990 the World Health Organization removed homosexuality from the International Classification of Disease.
Later in 1991 ACT UP organized a large demonstration delivering coffins to the city, state, and federal offices in NYC to protest AIDS-related discrimination. That same year Gladstone Institute of Virology and Immunology emerged to address the rising HIV/AIDS crisis. Over the years they were able to define the life cycle of AIDS and create medications still used to this day. They also developed the daily pill that can prevent HIV in people likely to come in contact with the virus.
On May 28th 1998 Executive Order 13087 from President Clinton prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation in the workforce. Unfortunately at this time it did not extend to the military.
Later on on May 20th of 1999 there was the first transgender day of remembrance, commemorating all the trans people who were killed by anti transgender violence and bigotry.
2001 was a huge year for the LGBTQIA+ community as it was the day the Netherland becomes the first country to legalize same-sex marriage.
In 2004 the first Trans March took place in San Francisco. Later that year on February 12th 2004 the first same sex wedding also took place in San Francisco and who else would it be other than the aforementioned Ms. Martin and Ms. Lyon the organizers of the first lesbian rights organization Daughters of Bilitis.
On September 20th, 2011 the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy was repealed. This policy banned gay, lesbian, and bisexual service members from disclosing their sexual identity and was in effect for 17 years.
On July 16th 2012 the FDA approved Truvada as a HIV prep, leading HIV infections to fall 8% from 2015-2019.
In 2013 Gladstone launched a series called “Out in Science” which showcased the careers and lives of LGBTQ scientists. Later that year the APA updated the transgender classification of “gender identity crisis” to “gender dysphoria” to classify transgender people.
The biggest day in LGBTQ+ community in America was June 26th 2015 when the United States legalized same-sex marriage in ALL 50 states.
In 2016 the UCSF released the old standard guidelines of trans-healthcare. This became a widely referenced guide among healthcare professionals and academia.
Unfortunately in 2017 we saw a regression when the Department of Justice reversed the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's decision to include transgender people as a protected minority group under the 1964 Civil Rights Act leaving the transgender community vulnerable to employment discrimination. Later that year Danica Roem ran for a seat in the Virginia General Assembly and won becoming the first openly transgender person to be elected to serve in any US state legislature.
In 2018 the Gladstone Center for HIV Cure Research was launched with the goal to identify, reduce, and control latent HIV reservoirs in order to allow the infected individuals to eventually discontinue antiretroviral therapy. That same year Gladstone launched the LGBTQ+ community group to provide visibility, advocacy, mentorship, and social opportunities for Gladstone’s LGBTQ+ community.
On June 15th 2020 the US Supreme Court ruled to expand protections for LGBTQ+ employees from discrimination based on sexual orientation/ identity.
On February 2nd 2021 Pete Buttigie was named Secretary of Transportation and became the first openly gay non-acting member of the cabinet of the United States.
There are many more incredible milestones that are not mentioned in this article but as you can see it has been a very long road. It has not even been 10 years since gay marriage as been legal in the United States! Who you love should never be mandated by a government and it should only be between you and the person you vow to spend the rest of your beautiful and sacred life with. Make sure to check-in on your LGBTQIA+ community and remember few burdens are heavy if we all lift.
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Happy Pride Month!!!
Author: Mickey Hardy
Album, P., & Vazquez, A. (2019, October 1). LGBTQ+ history timeline. Home. Retrieved March 20, 2023, from https://gladstone.org/news/lgbtq-history-timeline?gclid=Cj0KCQjwtsCgBhDEARIsAE7RYh2LGK9kkTfNnD1XRHQBzSO1V2uHsLDfaiqOOhsWJU6rdtdRB7le8GkaAsyyEALw_wcB
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