LGBTQ Historical Overview

Fight for LGBTQ Rights Throughout History

Gay History Quiz

LGBTQ Modern Historical Overview


1903 - First recorded raid on a gay bath house (New York City, 12 men charged with sodomy)

1919 - Institute of Sexology founded by Alfred Kinsey
1923 - FBI labels Emma Goldman "most dangerous woman in America" for her open endorsement of gay rights

1924 - Society for Human Rights, first gay rights organization in US, is founded

1928 - Radclyffe Hall publishes lesbian novel, The Well of Loneliness

1933 - Hitler bans gay press
1934 - Gay people required to wear pink triangles in Nazi Germany
1947 - First US lesbian magazine, Vice Versa, published
1948 - Kinsey Report released


1951 - Mattachine Society was founded to help homosexuals realize their collective histories and experiences
1952 - Alan Turing (Father of Modern Computers) convicted of being homosexual

1952 - Christine Jorgensen becomes first American to have gender reassignment surgery

1953 - First publication of ONE appeared
1953 - President Dwight Eisenhower bans homosexuals from federal jobs, says they are a security risk

1955 - Daughters of Bilitis, a lesbian organization, forms
1956 - Daughters of Bilitis publish first issue of The Ladder
1956 - James Baldwin publishes Giovanni's Room, containing gay and bisexual subject matter

1957 - Kinsey Report revealed that 10% of population is predominantly homosexual

1960 - New York City police begin systematic crackdown on gay bars
1961 - Illinois becomes first state to decriminalize homosexual acts

1962 - Illinois becomes first state to remove sodomy laws from criminal code


1966 - Compton's Cafeteria Riot occurred in Tenderloin district of San Francisco

1966 - Time Magazine publishes anti-gay article, "The Homosexual in America"

1966 - CBS TV airs "The Homosexuals" documentary

1967 - Advocate Magazine founded

1967 - Portrait of Jason film is released

1969 - Stonewall Riots in New York City
1970 - First Gay Liberation March in New York City (Also in San Francisco and Los Angeles)

1970 - Chicago Gay Rally held

1970 - Boys in the Band film is released

1970 - Large crowd participates in Gay Pride Parade in the Back Bay neighborhood of Boston

1970 - Lavender Menace, group of radical lesbian feminists, advocate for lesbian issues at Second Congress to Unite Women in New York City



1971 - Lambda Legal organization started

1972 - PFLAG founded by Jeanne Manford

1973 - American Psychiatric Association removed homosexuality from list of mental disorders 

1975 - Rocky Horror Picture Show film is released

1975 - Tennis player Renee Richards undergoes gender reassignment surgery

1975 - Technical Sergeant Leonard Matlovich discharged from US Air Force for being gay
1976 - Renee Richards banned from competing in Women's US Open due to "women-born-women" rule

1976 - Tales of the City, by Armistead Maupin, appears in San Francisco Chronicle

1977 - Billy Crystal plays openly-gay character on Soap television series

1978 - Briggs Initiative appears on California Ballot
1978 - Openly gay activist Harvey Milk is elected to San Francisco Board of Supervisors and 20 days later is murdered by Supervisor Dan White

1978 - La Cage Aux Folles film is released

1978 - Rainbow flag first used as a symbol of gay pride

1979 - California Supreme court rules against LGBTQ discrimination from public utility companies
1979 -100,000 attend first National Gay Rights March in Washington DC


LGBTQ Historical Overview

Fight for LGBTQ Rights Throughout History

Gay History Quiz


1980 - Human Rights Campaign founded

1981 - Tennis athlete Billie Jean King comes out as a lesbian

1981 - First report of what is now called AIDS
1981 - Wisconsin passes first gay rights bill
1981 - Tennis athlete Martina Navratilova comes out as a lesbian

1982 - First Gay Games
1982 - Center for Disease Control investigates what is being called a "Gay Plague"
1983 - Rep Gerry Studds, D-Mass, becomes first member of US Congress to publicly acknowledge his homosexuality

1983 - Openly gay writer Tennessee Williams dies

1983 - Life Magazine publishes story, "The Double Closet," about LGBTQ families

1984 - Federal officials announce discovery of first probable cause of AIDS
1984 - The Wall Street Journal permits use of the word "gay"


1985 - GLAAD founded

1985 - First International Conference on AIDS held

1985 - Rock Hudson dies of AIDS
1986 - Reagan administration states that treatment of persons with AIDS was not a federal concern
1987 - AIDS Memorial Quilt unveiled

1987 - US Rep Barney Frank, D-Mass, becomes second member of Congress to state he is gay

1987 - March on Washington is largest gay rights demonstration ever
1987 - ACT-UP organization is formed
1988 - Musician Elton John comes out, saying that he is "comfortable being gay"

1988 - 10th Annual National Coalition of Black Lesbians & Gays takes place

1989 - Actor Richard Chamberlain is outed as gay

1989 - Longtime Companion film is released, starring Campbell Scott, Patrick Cassidy, Mary-Louise Parker, Stephen Caffrey


Important LGBTQ Moments in US History

A Movement Caught Hold and Has Never Let Go

APA: History of LGBTQ Social Movements


1990 - President George H. Bush signs National Hate Crimes Act, the first to include gays
1990 - Militant group Queer Nation founded

1990 - AIDS Documentary wins Oscar
1990 - Gay men and Lesbians accepted as rabbis at 101st Annual Conference of American Rabbis
1990 - Gay Games III held in Vancouver
1990 - Gay and Lesbian Rights Movement collection displayed at Smithsonian
1991 - Amnesty International adopted jailed gay men and lesbians as prisoners of conscience
1991 - An appeals court recognized a homosexuals partner's rights as tantamount to those of a spouse
1991 - First television kiss between a same sex couple (two women on LA Law)

1992 - AIDS Quilt was unfolded in its entirety on the Capitol Mall
1992 - University of Iowa extended health benefits to domestic partners of its gay and lesbian employees
1992 - Canada allows gays and lesbians to serve in the military
1992 - Massachusetts Governor Weld created Governor's Commission on Gay and Lesbian Youth
1992 - President Bill Clinton is first president to recognize gay and lesbian rights

1992 - Singer KD Lang comes out as a lesbian



1993 - Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy is instituted for US military

1993 - 21 year old trans person Brandon Teena is raped and murdered

1993 - Grammy Award featured many openly gay and lesbian performers
1993 - Strong genetic component to homosexuality found in study

1993 – Tony Kushner wins Pulitzer Prize for his play Angels in America

1993 – Philadelphia film is released, starring Tom Hanks, Denzel Washington

1993 - National March on Washington DC saw record breaking crowds

1994 - Olympic diver Greg Louganis comes out as gay

1994 - Rep Steve Gunderson (R-Wis) is first openly gay republican in congress

1994 - Gay Games IV took place in New York City

1995 - President Clinton signs executive order forbidding denial of security clearances on basis of sexual orientation

1996 - Rep Jim Kolbe (R-Ariz) is second openly gay republican in congress

1997 – Ellen DeGeneres appears on the Oprah Wynfrey Show and comes out as a lesbian

1998 - President Clinton signs Defense of Marriage Act, denying federal benefits to same-sex spouses

1998 – Will & Grace TV show premieres

1998 - Univ of Wyoming gay college student Matthew Shepherd killed

1998 - Torch Song Trilogy film is released

1999 - Rep Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis) is first out lesbian representative when elected



2000 - Vermont becomes first state to legalize civil unions between gay and lesbian couples
2000 - President Clinton declares June as Gay Pride Month

2000 - Netherlands becomes first country to legalize same-sex marriage

2002 - Transgender Law Center founded

2002 - David Cicilline is first openly gay mayor of US state capital, Providence RI

2002 - Laramie Project launched

2002 – Rosie O’Donnell comes out as a lesbian on The View television show

2003 - Gene Robinson becomes first openly gay Episcopal bishop

2003 - Belgium legalizes same-sex marriage

2003 - Angels in America film is released, starring Al Pacino, Meryl Streep, Emma Thompson, Mary-Louise Parker

2003 - National Black Justice Coalition founded

2003 - Supreme Court invalidates all remaining anti-sodomy laws in its ruling in Lawrence v. Texas

2003 – Queer Eye for the Straight Guy TV show premieres

2004 - Same sex marriages become legal in Massachusetts
2004 - US Senate defeats measure to create constitutional amendment limiting marriage to heterosexual

2004 - 11 openly gay and lesbian athletes at Olympic Games in Athens

2005 - Canada legalizes same-sex marriage

2005 - Brokeback Mountain, film about gay cowboys, released in theaters




2006 - Brokeback Mountain wins 3 Academy Awards and 5 nominations

2006 - Patricia Todd is first openly gay legislator in Alabama (House seat representing Birmingham)

2006 - South Africa legalizes same-sex marriage

2008 – Milk, film about life of Harvey Milk, is released, starring Sean Penn, Josh Brolin, James Franco

2008 - 10 openly gay and lesbian athletes at Olympic Games in Beijing

2009 - Chastity Bono (Child of Sonny & Cher) transitions from female to male to become Chaz Bono

2009 - Norway and Sweden legalize same-sex marriage

2010 - Repeal of US Military's Don't Ask Don't Tell Policy
2010 - Argentina, Iceland, and Portugal legalize same-sex marriage

2010 - It Gets Better campaign launched

2012 - Sen Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis) is first out lesbian senator

2012 - President Obama announces support for same-sex marriage rights
2012 - Seven LGBTQ candidates win elections in the US Senate and House

2012 - Astronaut Sally Ride dies and posthumously comes out as lesbian

2012 - Tammy Smith first is first out lesbian brigadier general in US Army

2012 - Kylar Bodus is first transgender person to testify at US Senate hearing

2012 - 21 openly gay and lesbian athletes at Olympic Games in London

2012 - Denmark legalizes same-sex marriage

2013 - US Supreme Court strikes down Defense of Marriage Act and California's Proposition 8
2013 - Jason Collins become first openly gay NBA athlete
2013 - Queen Elizabeth II pardons Alan Turing for 1952 homosexuality conviction

2013 - Laverne Cox, MTF transgender person, stars in Orange is the New Black television show

2013 - Brazil, England, France, New Zealand, and Uruguay legalize same-sex marriage



2014 - Laverne Cox appears on cover of Time Magazine

2014 - Michael Sam becomes first openly gay NFL athlete
2014 - BP Oil Co CEO Lord John Browne comes out as gay

2014 - Martina Navratilova proposes to longtime girlfriend Julia Lemigova at US Open and they marry later the same year

2014 - Openly gay and lesbian athletes at Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia

2014 - Facebook offers 56 different gender options for its users

2014 - Luxembourg legalizes same-sex marriage

2014 - US Post Office issues Harvey Milk stamp
2014 - Boy Scouts end anti-gay policy and allow gay youth to join
2014 - Apple CEO Tim Cook announces publicly that he is gay

2015 - US Supreme Court declares same-sex marriage legal in United States
2015 - Bruce Jenner undergoes gender reassignment surgery and becomes Caitlyn Jenner

2015 - Greenland, Ireland, and Finland legalize same-sex marriage

2016 - Gallup Poll reports that LGBTQ population is 4.6%, not 10% as previously estimated

2016 - Sen Harris Wofford announces plans to marry a man and becomes first male US Senator to come out

2016 - Eric Fanning is first out gay man appointed US Secretary of Army

2016 - Sarah McBride, MTF transgender person, addresses Democratic National Convention

2016 - Mass shooting at gay bar in Orlando, Florida

2016 - Openly gay and lesbian athletes at Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

2017 - Donald Trump is elected President, threatening to impede LGBTQ rights

2017 - Ines Rau is first transgender Playboy model

2017 - Germany legalizes same-sex marriage

2017 - Transwoman Danica Roem elected to public office in Virginia

2018 - India decriminalizes homosexuality

2018 - Angela Ponce is first transgender person to compete in Miss Universe pageant

2018 - Minnesota, Oregon, California, Colorado, Maine, and DC issue non-binary driver's licenses

2018 - New York adds third gender option to birth certificates

2018 - Record number of LGBTQ candidates ran for and were elected to US Congress

2019 - Large number of LGBTQ-themed movies nominated at Academy Awards


Book Riot: Books About LGBTQ History

Important LGBTQ Moments in US History

A Movement Caught Hold and Has Never Let Go

Archaic Language and Images

Vintage Photos of LGBTQ Couples


LGBTQ Historical Figures Born Before 1900


1891-1964 - Cole Porter, American Composer and Songwriter

1882-1941 - Virginia Woolf, British Novelist and Essayist

1879-1970 - EM Forster, British Novelist

1873-1947 - Willa Cather, American Novelist

1854-1900 - Oscar Wilde, Irish Playwright and Poet

1840-1893 - Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Russian Composer

1830-1886 - Emily Dikinson, American Poet

1825-1895 - Karl-Heinrich Ulrichs, Father of LGBTQ Movement

1819-1892 - Walt Whitman, American Poet

1788-1824 - Lord Byron - British Poet

1712-1786 - Frederick the Great, King of Prussia

1672-1725 - Peter the Great, Russian Czar

1564-1593 - Christopher Marlowe, English Playwright
1561-1626 - Sir Francis Bacon, British Philosopher and Scientist

1475-1564 - Michelangelo, Italian Artist
1452-1519 - Leonardo Da Vinci, Italian Artist and Scientist


LGBTQ Historical Overview

Fight for LGBTQ Rights Throughout History

Gay History Quiz


LGBTQ Historical Figures in Ancient Times


76-138 CE - Hadrian, Roman Emperor

70-17 BCE - Virgil, Roman Poet

356-323 BCE - Alexander the Great, Macedonian Ruler

384-322 BCE - Aristotle, Greek Philosopher

469-399 BCE - Socrates, Greek Philosopher

427-347 BCE - Plato, Greek Philosopher

620-560 BCE - Sappho, Greek Poet

1010-961 BCE - David, King of Israel


Wikipedia: Stonewall Riots (New York)

Stonewall Riots: Beginning of the LGBTQ Movement

Gay Jesters Who Inspired LGBTQ Activism in the 1950s

Things You Missed in History: What Was the Compton’s Cafeteria Riot?

Wikipedia: Compton’s Cafeteria Riot (San Francisco)

Before the Riot at Stonewall, There Was a Sit In at Dewey's

Stonewall Riots

June 28, 1969

The Stonewall riots were a series of spontaneous, violent demonstrations by members of the LGBTQ community against a police raid that took place in the early morning hours of June 28, 1969, at the Stonewall Inn, located in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City. They are widely considered to constitute the single most important event leading to the gay liberation movement and the modern fight for LGBTQ rights in the United States.

Gay Americans in the 1950s and 1960s faced an anti-gay legal system. Early homophile groups in the US sought to prove that gay people could be assimilated into society, and they favored non-confrontational education for homosexuals and heterosexuals alike. The last years of the 1960s, however, were very contentious, as many social movements were active, including the African American Civil Rights Movement, the Counterculture of the 1960s, and antiwar demonstrations. These influences, along with the liberal environment of Greenwich Village, served as catalysts for the Stonewall riots.


Very few establishments welcomed openly gay people in the 1950s and 1960s. Those that did were often bars, although bar owners and managers were rarely gay. At the time, the Stonewall Inn was owned by the Mafia. It catered to an assortment of patrons and was known to be popular among the poorest and most marginalized people in the gay community: drag queens, transgender people, effeminate young men, butch lesbians, male prostitutes, and homeless youth. Police raids on gay bars were routine in the 1960s, but officers quickly lost control of the situation at the Stonewall Inn. They attracted a crowd that was incited to riot. Tensions between New York City police and gay residents of Greenwich Village erupted into more protests the next evening, and again several nights later. Within weeks, Village residents quickly organized into activist groups to concentrate efforts on establishing places for gays and lesbians to be open about their sexual orientation without fear of being arrested.

After the Stonewall riots, gays and lesbians in New York City faced gender, race, class, and generational obstacles to becoming a cohesive community. Within six months, two gay activist organizations were formed in New York, concentrating on confrontational tactics, and three newspapers were established to promote rights for gays and lesbians. Within a few years, gay rights organizations were founded across the US and the world. On June 28, 1970, the first Gay Pride marches took place in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago commemorating the anniversary of the riots. Similar marches were organized in other cities. Today, Gay Pride events are held annually throughout the world toward the end of June to mark the Stonewall riot.




Association for Lesbian Gay Bisexual & Transgender Issues in Counseling of Alabama