With this timeline, we’ve tried to incorporate local, regional, national and international historic LGBT moments. If you feel we’ve missed something, please drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org
"A people deserves a history.”
--Larry Kramer, Tony and Emmy-winning playwright, author, and HIV/AIDS activist.
President Trump revokes guidance to public schools regarding transgender restrooms
President Donald Trump’s administration revoked landmark guidance to public schools letting transgender students use the bathrooms of their choice, reversing a signature initiative of President Barack Obama issued in May 2016.
Pentagon lifts ban on transgender people serving in the U.S. military
Secretary of Defense Ash Carter announces that the Pentagon is lifting the ban on transgender people serving opening in the U.S. military. The decision removes one of the last remaining barriers to LGBT participation in the armed forces.
Largest Trans March in Pittsburgh Held
The Delta Foundation of Pittsburgh, Trans YOUniting and SisTers Pittsburgh collaborated together to hold a transgender march and rally at Pittsburgh’s City-County Building in response to the Trump Administration revoking federal guidelines specifying that transgender students have the right to use public school restrooms that match their gender identity. Approximately 700 were in attendance making it the largest transgender march ever held. Speakers including a representative from Senator Robert Casey’s office, Mayor Peduto, City Councilman Dan Gilman, Trans YOUniting founder Dena Stanley, SisTers Pittsbrgh founder Ciora Thomas, La’Tasha Mays, Alex Anderson, Jezebel, and attorney Elise DeLong.
Donny’s Place/Leather Central Closes
Opened on October 13, 1993, Donny’s Place Leather Central was fashioned after the old-style European leather clubs of the early 70s.
Obama Adminstration issues directive for transgender restroom use in public schools
The Obama administration issues a sweeping directive telling every public school district to allow transgender students to use the bathrooms that match their gender identity or be subject to lawsuits or loss of Federal aid.
Rainbow Flag Raised Over Pittsburgh City-County Building
The Delta Foundation of Pittsburgh officially kicked-off Pittsburgh Pride 2012 with the Advocacy Rally at the City-County Building. The rally included a proclamation from both the City of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County, welcoming words from County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, an inspirational speech from Grand Marshal Billy Hileman, and the raising of the rainbow flag for the very first time.
“When We Rise” Airs on ABC
Pulse Nightclub Shooting
On the morning of Sunday, June 12, Pulse nightclub, a popular gay bar/dance club in Orlando, Florida gained international attention as it was the scene of the deadliest mass shooting by a single gunman in U.S. history, and the deadliest terrorist attack on U.S. soil since the events of September 11, 2001. Forty-nine people were killed and 53 were injured by 29-year-old Omar Mateen. There are plans to convert the premises into a memorial dedicated to the victims.
Secretary of the Army Eric Fanning named first openly gay secretary of a U.S. military branch
The Senate confirms Eric Fanning to be Secretary of the Army, making him the first openly gay secretary of a U.S. military branch.
Kate Brown becomes Governor of Oregon & the highest ranking LGBT person elected to office
Kate Brown is sworn is as governor of Oregon and becomes the highest-ranking LGBT person elected to office in the United States.
A record number of LGBT athletes compete in Summer Olympic Games
A record number of athletes compete in the summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. The Human Rights Campaign estimates there are at least 41 openly LGBT Olympians though Outsports.com puts that number much higher at 49.
President Obama announces designation of Stonewall National Momument
President Barack Obama announces the designation of the first national monument to LGBT rights. The Stonewall National monument will encompass Christopher Park, the Stonewall Inn, and the surrounding streets and sidewalks that were the sites of the 1969 Stonewall uprising.
Military Equal Opportunity policy is adjusted to include gay & lesbian military members
Secretary of Defense Ash Carter announces that the Military Equal Opportunity policy has been adjusted to include gay and lesbian military members.
Democratic Party publicly supports marriage equality at DNC
The Democratic Party becomes the first major U.S. political party in history to publicly support same-sex marriage on a national platform at the Democratic National Convention.
Boy Scouts of America welcomes members based on their gender listed on application
The Boy Scouts of America announced that the group would begin accepting members based on the gender listed on their application paving the way for transgender boys to join the organization.
U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit hears arguments in 6 landmark marriage cases
United States Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit heard oral arguments in six landmark marriage cases out of four different states.
U.S. Supreme Court allows same-sex couples to marry in 5 states
The United States Supreme Court denies review in five different marriage cases, allowing lower court rulings to stand, an therefore allowing same-sex couples to marry in Utah, Oklahoma, Virginia, Indiana, and Wisconsin. The decision opens the door for the right to marry in Colorado, Kansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia, and Wyoming.
U.S. Supreme Court strikes down Section 3 of DOMA
In United States vs. Windsor, the U.S. Supreme Court strikes down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, ruling that legally married same-sex couples are entitles to federal benefits. The high court also dismisses a case involving California’s proposition 8.
President Obama becomes first U.S. President to publicly support marriage equality
In an ABC interview, Barack Obama becomes the first sitting U.S. President to publicly support the freedom for LGBT couples to marry.
Tammy Baldwin becomes first openly gay policitian elected to U.S. Senate
Tammy Baldwin becomes the first openly gay politician and the first Wisconsin woman elected to the U.S. Senate.
First Gay PA State Legislator Elected
Lawyer Brian Sims is elected as a Democratic member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in the 182nd district. Sims is the first openly gay elected state legislator in Pennsylvania history. Sims shares the designation of being its first openly gay member with Rep. Mike Fleck (R-Huntingdon), who came out in a newspaper article published later that day.
Caitlyn Jenner announces “I’m a woman” on ABC-TV
In a televised interview with ABC’s Diane Sawyer, U.S. Olympic gold medal winner Caitlyn Jenner says, “Yes, for all intents and purposes, I’m a woman.”
Boy Scouts of America removes restriction on gay leaders and employees
Boy Scouts of America President Robert Gates announces “the national executive board ratified a resolution removing the national restriction on openly gay leaders and employees.”
“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is repealed
“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is repealed ending a ban on gay men and lesbians from serving opening in the military.
Prop 8 is found unconstitutional
Proposition 8 is found unconstitutional by a federal judge.
Pegasus Closes Downtown
Pegasus, one of Pittsbrgh’s oldest gay and lesbian nightclubs, closes. Opened in June 1980 by David Morrow, Pegasus was a safe haven for gay people to be themselves and meet others with like-minded interests without the worry of being hassled. In 2003, the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust purchased the building, replacing the street-level Condom World and an adult bookstore with Space art gallery. They also made Pegasus remove its sign which had hung over the sidewalk for years. The entrance to the bar at 818 Liberty Avenue which was marked only by a red Pegasus figure, lead down a set of steep stairs. When you reached the bottom, the entire bar was visible: the alcohol-free section on the right, for the club’s college-age patrons; the dance floor in the middle; and the main bar on the left, marked by a large crescent-moon statue with puckered red lips. The nightclub was also…
Actor Sean Penn wins Oscar for his role as Harvey Milk in “Milk”
Actor Sean Penn wins an Oscar for his role as Harvey Milk in the film, “Milk.” The film also won for “Best Original Screenplay.”
President Obama signs Matthew Shepard & James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act
President Obama signs the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act into law.
Harvey Milk is posthumously awarded the Medal of Freedom by President Obama
Harvey Milk is posthumously awarded the Medal of Freedom by President Obama.
California voters approve Prop 8
Voters approve Proposition 8 in California, which makes same-sex marriage illegal.
First Openly Gay City Councilman Elected
Bruce Kraus was elected is a Democratic member of the Pittsburgh City Council and is the first openly gay person to be elected to the council. He represents District 3 and the neighborhoods of South Side Flats, South Side Slopes, Beltzhoover, Knoxville, Arlington, Arlington Heights, Allentown, Mount Oliver, Central Oakland, and Mount Washington. He was elected to be president of the council in January 2014.
New Jersey Supreme Court rules that rights and benefits should be extended to gay and lesbian couples
The New Jersey Supreme Court rules that state lawmakers must provide the rights and benefits of marriage to gay and lesbian couples. The ruling was a result of the fight of Lieutenant Laurel Hester who was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer in 2004 and wanted to leave her pension benefits to Stacie Andree, her same-sex domestic partner. When the New Jersey county that Hester worked for refused to change its rules to allow this, she fought to get equal treatment for her relationship. Hester’s request was approved shortly before she died at the age of 49 in 2006. Her story became the subject of an Oscar-winning 2007 documentary and 2015 feature film, both entitled Freeheld.
“Brokeback Mountain” is released
“Brokeback Mountain,” a love story between two men that stretches over two decades, is released. The film goes on to win several Golden Globe Awards and Academy Awards.
California Supreme Court rules that limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples is unconstitutional
The California Supreme Court rules in re: Marriage Cases that limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples is unconstitutional.
California passes bill allowing marriage between same-sex couples
The California legislature becomes the first to pass a bill allowing marriage between same-sex couples. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoes the bill.
First legal same-sex marriage takes place in Massachusetts
The first legal same-sex marriage in the United States takes place in Massachusetts.
U.S. Supreme Court strides down “homosexual” conduct law
The U.S. Supreme Court strikes down the “homosexual conduct” law, which decriminalizes same-sex sexual conduct, with their opinion in Lawrence v. Texas. The decision also reverses Bowers v. Hardwick, a 1986 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that upheld Georgia’s sodomy law.
Fire Closes Arena Health Club
The Arena Health club was a gay bath house founded, at least on the books, in 1968 in Pittsburgh’s Soho (or Uptown) neighborhood at 2025 Forbes Avenue. Owned and operated by William Kaelin, the building was hidden away in an unassuming yet somehow stately three story house built in the 1890s. The Arena Health Club ceased operation after a fire on Valentines Day caused over $125,000 of damage, killing a young man. The building sat dormant for 13 years, passing from developer to developer, until it was finally demolished August of 2015.
Bartender Jamie Stickle Found Dead
Jamie Stickle, 33, a well-regarded bartender, was found dead in her Jeep, which was parked in her driveway at her apartment. The vehicle was engulfed in flames, and the coroner determined that she had been alive at the time of the fire due to the presence of smoke in her lungs. Prior to her death, she completed an evening shift at Sidekicks, a downtown bar in Pittsburgh, and then proceeded to Pegasus, another local club. She was declined admission at an exclusive bar and was last seen walking alone into a parking garage at approximately 2 AM. Stickle had no known enemies and was noted for her dedication to various charitable causes. She had recently experienced a painful breakup, but the police did not find anything out of the ordinary with the girlfriend. Police did not have enough evidence to classify this incident as a homicide, and hundreds of interviews…
HIV Activist Larry Kramer Receives Liver Transplant
Writer and AIDS activist Larry Kramer founder of GMHC (Gay Men’s Health Crisis) and ACT UP, underwent a 12-hour liver transplant surgery at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC), in what has become the “most high-profile case” of an HIV-positive patient receiving an organ transplant.
Vermont becomes first state to legalize civil unions between same-sex couples
Vermont becomes the first state to legalize civil unions between same-sex couples.
U.S. Diver Greg Louganis wins Gold at Olympics
U.S. diver Greg Louganis won back-to-back titles on both diving events, but only after hitting the springboard with his head in the 3 m event final. This became a minor controversy years later when Louganis revealed he knew he was HIV-positive at the time, and did not tell anybody. Since HIV cannot survive in open water, no other divers were ever in danger. When he announced his HIV status in 1995, most of his corporate sponsors dropped him as a client with the exception of Speedo, which retained him as an endorser of its products until 2007. In 2016, Louganis was pictured on the box of Wheaties cereal, where prominent American athletes are famously featured. Louganis said he was denied this honor in the 1980s because of the stigma at the time of being gay.
Ellen DeGeneres comes out on Time magazine
Comedian Ellen DeGeneres comes out as a lesbian on the cover of Time magazine, state, “Yep, I’m gay.”
Matthew Shepard is tied to a fence, beaten and left to die
Matthew Shepard is tied to a fence, beaten and left to die near Laramie, Wyoming. He is eventually found by a cyclist, who initially mistakes him for a scarecrow. On October 12, 1998, he died from his injuries sustained in the beating.
Coretta Scott King asks the civil rights community to extinguish homophobia
Martin Luther King, Jr.s widow, Coretta Scott King asks the civil rights community to help in the effort to extinguish homophobia.
Hawaii becomes first state to recognize same sex marriage
Hawaii’s Judge Chang rules that the state does not have a legal right to deprive same-sex couples of the right to marry, making Hawaii the first state to recognize that gay and lesbian couples are entitled to the same privileges as heterosexual married couples.
President Clinton signs Defense of Marriage Act
President Bill Clinton signs the Defense of Marriage Act, banning federal recognition of same-sex marriage and defining marriage as “a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife.”
President Clinton signs “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy
President Bill Clinton signs a military policy directive that prohibits openly gay and lesbian Americans from serving in the military, but also prohibits the harassment of “closeted” homosexuals. The policy is known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
“Philadelphia” is first mainstream HIV/AIDS movie to be released
“Philadelphia,” starring Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington was released. The film was one of the first mainstream Hollywood films to acknowledge HIV/AIDS, homosexuality, and homophobia. The film went on win two Academy Awards.
San Francisco AIDS Foundation is Formed
The San Francisco AIDS Foundation is established as the Kaposi’s Sarcoma Research and Education Foundation by Cleve Jones, Marcus Conant, Frank Jacobson and Richard Keller. They reorganized as the San Francisco AIDS Foundation in 1984. SFAF is one of the largest and oldest community-based AIDS service organizations in the United States.
Senator Jess Helms
Senator Jesse Helms (R-North Carolina) was one of the chief architects of AIDS-related stigma in the U.S. He fought against any federal spending on HIV research, treatment or prevention. He proposed and passed laws that are still on the books, enshrining this stigma as official government policy. People with HIV couldn’t travel to the U.S. The CDC was not permitted to spend money on preventing the spread of HIV among gay men. Our country never launched a single well-funded HIV prevention campaign because of Jesse Helms. To this day, fifty thousand Americans become infected each year in no small part due to “Senator No”. The first action by the newly formed ACT UP affinity group called Treatment Action Guerrillas (which split off from ACT UP a few months later and renamed itself TAG, the Treatment Action Group) and led by Peter Staley. The idea was to cover Senator Helms two-story…
Planet Queer Begins Publishing
Planet Queer, also known as Planet Q, begin publication and ran until January 1999. Founded by longtime LGBT activist Billy Hileman, the newspaper reported on local and national issues and news that affected the community, serving “the Tri-State’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgendered Communities.” In additional, it also featured resources and events. For Billy, front page news was a recent public health study that revealed how HIV/AIDS disproportionately affected communities of color. No issue of Planet Queer was complete without a call to action, urging locals to vote for politicians responsive to the needs of the queer community and demanding that citizens hold their elected officials accountable. To him, it seemed quite obvious that immigration and natural disaster relief were queer issues that ought to be near and dear to the community.
World Health Organization holds first World AIDS Day
The World Health Organization holds the first World AIDS Day in order to raise awareness. The day is dedicated to raising awareness of the AIDS pandemic caused by the spread of HIV, and mourning those who have died of the disease. Government and health officials, non-governmental organizations and individuals around the world observe the day, often with education on AIDS prevention and control.
Shepherd Wellness Center Opens
Shepherd Wellness Center began when four young men living with AIDS, a social worker and a physician met with Episcopal Priest Father Lynn Edwards, Dr. Bill Brandon and Cynthia Klemanski to discuss the effects of AIDS and HIV infection in the Pittsburgh area. The men wanted a safe and secure haven where they could socialize with their friends and speak openly without fear. That meeting led to the start of Wellness Dinners at the Church of the Good Shepherd in Hazelwood. The first dinner was held in October 1987. In 1990, Friday Wellness Dinners were moved to the First United Methodist Church in Shadyside. In 2001, the Bloomfield Community United Methodist Church and parsonage were donated to SWC for one dollar. From that meeting grew the Shepherd Wellness Community, a gathering place and resource center for people with HIV/AIDS and their loved ones. The first dinner was held in October…
NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt
The NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt is started in San Francisco by Cleve Jones, Mike Smith, and volunteers Joseph Durant, Jack Caster, Gert McMullin, Ron Cordova, Larkin Mayo and Gary Yuschalk. It was conceived by Cleve Jones during a candlelight march in remembrance of San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk and Mayor George Moscone. At that time many people who died of AIDS-related causes did not receive funerals, due to both the social stigma of AIDS felt by surviving family members and the outright refusal by many funeral homes and cemeteries to handle the deceased’s remains. Lacking a memorial service or grave site, The Quilt was often the only opportunity survivors had to remember and celebrate their loved ones’ lives. The first showing of The Quilt was 1987 on the National Mall in Washington, DC. The Quilt was last displayed in full on the Mall in Washington in 1996, but it returned…
Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force Opens
Led by Kerry Stoner and a group of dedicated volunteers, the Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force (PATF) was formed in response to a cry from those infected with HIV/AIDS for compassion, supportive services, and information about the disease. In its infancy, PATF offered the Legal Advocacy program to fight discrimination, as well as emotional and practical support to those who were dying from AIDS through what became known as the Buddy Program. Incorporated as a not-for-profit 501(c) (3) organization in March 1986, PATF existed as an all-volunteer agency until March 1988, when the organization hired PATF founder, Kerry Stoner as its first Executive Director. Now in its third decade of service, PATF has progressed from an agency that helped people with AIDS to die with dignity into an agency that helps people with HIV/AIDS live healthier, more productive lives. PATF is the oldest and largest AIDS service organization in Southwestern Pennsylvania…
Andy Warhol died in Manhattan and was laid to rest in Pittsburgh at St. John the Baptist Byzantine Catholic Church in Bethel Park. Born in Pittsburgh, Warhol was a leading figure in the visual art movement known as pop art. His works explore the relationship between artistic expression, celebrity culture, and advertising that flourished by the 1960s. His studio, The Factory,, was a well known gathering place that brought together distinguished intellectuals, drag queens, playwrights, Bohemian street people, Hollywood celebrities, and wealthy patrons. He managed and produced rock band The Velvet Underground, and founded Interview magazine. Warhol was also openly gay and he is credited with coining the widely used expression “15 minutes of fame.” The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh holds an extensive permanent collection of art and archives, is the largest museum in the U.S. dedicated to a single artist.
Gay Men’s Health Crisis founded
In January, the service organization Gay Men’s Health Crisis is founded by Larry Kramer, Nathan Fain, Larry Mass, Paul Popham, Paul Rapoport, and Edmund White. On July 27, the term AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome) is proposed at a meeting in Washingon of gay-community leaders, federal bureaucrats and the CDC to replace GRID (gay-related immune deficiency) as evidence showed it was not gay specific On December 10, a baby in California becomes ill in the first known case of contracting AIDS from a blood transfusion. By the end of the year, there were 270 reported cases of severe immune deficiency among gay men – 121 of them had died.
Pitt Men’s Study
The Pitt Men’s Study (PMS), funded by the National Institutes of Health, is started. A confidential research study of the natural history of HIV/AIDS, the Study follows a cohort of approximately 3,000 men to gather information on the epidemiology, virology, immunology, and pathology of the HIV. PMS is part of a national study, the Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study (MACS), with sites in Los Angeles, Chicago, Baltimore as well as Pittsburgh, and is led by medical and social scientists including Dr. Charles Rinaldo and Dr. Tony Silvestre. The researchers often cite the Tavern Guildm the leaders of the gay community that consisted of bar and bathouse owner, as a key to their success.
Lambda Legal wins first HIV/AIDS discrimination case
In 1983, Lambda Legal won the nation’s first HIV/AIDS discrimination case (People v. West 12 Tenants Corp.), helping establish that under disability laws it’s illegal to discriminate against people who have HIV.
Wisconsin becomes first state to outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation
Wisconsin becomes the first state to outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation.
New York Times announces “rare cancer seen in 41 homosexuals”
The New York Times announces a “Rare Cancer Seen in 41 Homosexuals.”
Out Begins Publication
Jim Austin and his business partner Brian Michaels began publication of Out, a glossy magazine. In the first edition, they said, “For the first time in Pittsburgh history, a local gay magazine is out there, being purchased in record numbers, in places that only five years ago would have been unthinkable.” Based on a reader’s survey, in August 1980 the magazine changed format. The survey demonstrated that the community wanted more content, but wanted to pay less. Out switched from a typical glossy magazine format to, due to lower costs, a tabloid newspaper format which resulted in a doubled page size and a decrease in cost from $1.00 to 75 cents. Gay Life became a supplement of Out, functioning as a monthly entertainment guide. The newspaper published until July 2012 when it transitioned to an online format.
A new locally-based periodical called Gay Life was started by publisher Jim Austin. In its first issue, Gay Life made it clear that it was not attempting to replicate PGN but rather sought to fulfill one of the uppermost priorities for its readers: socialization. Their goal as stated in the first issue is “to make sure that you who pick up a copy of Gay Life have at your fingertips, in an easy-to-digest format, all of the information necessary to give you, the reader, the opportunity to enjoy a healthy gay social life in the Pittsburgh area.” In September 1979, Gay Life published its final issue. The success of the publication and the demand for more content led original Jim Austin and his business partner Brian Michaels to transition the small tabloid style magazine into a larger full-size magazine entitled Out.
First National March on Washington for Lesbian & Gay Rights takes place
The first National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights takes place. In draws an estimated 75,000-125,000 individuals marching for LGBT rights. Speakers and artists who spoke at the main rally included Harry Britt, Charlotte Bunch, Alan Ginsberg and Peter Orlovsky, Flo Kennedy, Morris Kight, Audre Lorde, Leonard Matlovich, Kate Millett, Troy Perry, Eleanor Smeal, first PFLAG President Adele Starr, and Congressman Ted Weiss. Mayor Marian Barry gave a welcome to the marchers on behalf of the city of Washington, DC
Persad is founded Dr. James Huggins and Randall Forrester in response to the demand for specialized, nondiscriminatory services expressed by LGBT individuals through an underground Pittsburgh gay hotline. The hotline was originally established to provide LGBT people with information regarding safe places to meet one another, and as a communication network to make LGBT people aware of happenings in the community. The name PERSAD was chosen by merging the words “personal” and “adjustment”. The agency was established by a board of directors formed at a meeting that took place at Calvary Episcopal Church and included among its members two clergy, a University of Pittsburgh Social Work Professor and a physician who all recognized the need for this unique agency. Today, Persad is the nation’s second oldest licensed mental health center specifically created to serve the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. On March 23, 2015, the organization opened its doors in…
Pittsburgh’s First Gay Newspaper: Pittsburgh Gay Times
Pittsburgh Gay Times, (PGN) was Pittsburgh’s first gay newspaper. It was an almost immediate success and soon expanded distribution around the tri-state region. In September of 1976, however, due to unexpected circumstances in his personal life, PGN publisher Jim Austin was forced to relinquish control of PGN to the publisher of Philadelphia Gay News Mark Segal. The following month, Pittsburgher subscribers received a Pittsburgh edition of the Philadelphia Gay News instead of their usual PGN. In the fall of 1977 Jim Austin set to work in creating a new locally-based periodical Gay Life. In its first issue, Gay Life made it clear that it was not attempting to replicate PGN but rather sought to fulfill one of the uppermost priorities for its readers: socialization. Their goal as stated in the first issue is “to make sure that you who pick up a copy of Gay Life have at…
The Los Angeles Advocate is Renamed The Advocate
The “Los Angeles Advocate,” founded in 1967, is renamed “The Advocate.” It is considered the oldest continuing LGBT publication that began as a newsletter published by the activist group Personal Rights in Defense and Education (PRIDE). The newsletter was inspired by a police raid on a Los Angeles gay bar, the Black Cat Tavern, on January 1, 1967, and the demonstrations against police brutality in the months following that raid.
ACT UP was Formed in New York
The AIDS Coalition To Unleash Power (ACT UP) was formed at the Lesbian and Gay Community Services Center in New York when Larry Kramer was asked to speak as part of a rotating speaker series. Kramer spoke on the need to fight AIDS as well as against the Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC), which he co-founded and then resigned from in 1983. The organization adopted an inverted pink triangle along with the slogan “SILENCE = DEATH” as its logo shortly after its formation. The Pink Triangle became a symbol of gay pride after being used during World Word II as a symbol of homosexuality, perversion, and deviance. The Silence = Death Project drew parallels between the Nazi period and the AIDS crisis, declaring that ‘silence about the oppression and annihilation of gay people, then and now, must be broken as a matter of our survival.’
Harvey Milk Assassinated
Harvey Milk and Mayor George Moscone are murdered by Dan White, who had recently resigned from his San Francisco board position and wanted Moscone to reappoint him. White later serves just over five years in prison for voluntary manslaughter.
Gilbert Baker Designs First Rainbow Flag
Inspired by Harvey Milk to develop a symbol of pride and hope for the LGBT community, Gilbert Baker designs and stitches together the first rainbow flag. The flag made its debut at the San Francisco Freedom Day Parade. The colors on the Rainbow Flag reflect the diversity of the LGBT community each with a symbolic meaning: Hot Pink (sexuality), Red (life), Orange (healing), Yellow (sunlight), Green (nature), Turquoise (magic/art), Blue (serenity/harmony), Violet (spirit). In 2015, Baker’s Rainbow Flag was acquired by the Museum of Modern Art and is on display in the contemporary design gallery.
Harvey Milk inaugurated as first openly gay elected official in California
Harvey Milk is inaugurated as San Francisco city supervisor, and is the first openly gay man to be elected to a political office in California.
Billy Crystal plays first openly gay character in Soap
Billy Crystal plays one of the first openly gay characters in a recurring role on a prime time television show in Soap. Despite the ract that they had not seen the pilot, religious organizations began to quickly mobilize against Soap. ABC received 32,000 letters and all but nine of them against the show. When Soap premiered, 18 out of 195 ABC affiliates refused to air the program with others choosing to broadcast it after 11 PM. By its second week on the air, two more affiliates dropped out, bringing the boycott to 20 stations. The final episode aired on April 20, 1981.
Tennis player Renee Richards is banned from competing in the Women’s U.S. Open
After undergoing gender reassignment surgery, ophthalmologist and professional tennis player Renee Richards is banned from competing in the Women’s U.S. Open because of “woman-born-woman” rule. Richards challenges the decision and in 1977, the New York Supreme Court rules in her favor and Richards competes in the 1977 US Open.
“Tales of the City” by Amistead Maupin appears in the San Francisco Chronicle
“Tales of the City,” by Amistead Maupin appears in the San Francisco Chronicle. It is among the first fiction works to address a disease that initially affected gay men (it would later be identified as AIDS), and feature many minority characters and homosexual relationships.
Sgt. Leonard Matlovich is discharged from the Air Force for being gay
Technical Sargeant Leonard P. Matlovich reveals his sexual orientation to his commanding officer and is forcibly discharged from the Air Force six months later. A Vietnam War veteran, Matlovich was awarded both the Purple Heart and Bronze Star. His case resulted in articles in newspapers and magazines throughout the country, numerous television interviews, and a television movie on NBC. Matlovich became the first named openly gay person to appear on the cover of a U.S. news magazine when he appeared on the cover of the September 8, 1975 issue of Time. On June 22, 1988, Matlovich died in Los Angeles of complications from HIV/AIDS
Bella Abzug introduces Equality Act into House of Representatives
Representative Bella Abzug, along with fellow Democratic New York City representative Ed Koch, introduced the Equality Act into the House of Representatives. The introduction of this bill marked the first time that a gay rights bill had been introduced on the federal level in the U.S.
Kathy Kozachenko becomes first openly LGBT American elected to public office
Pittsburgh native Kathy Kozachenko becomes the first openly LGBT American elected to any public office when she wins a seat on the Ann Arbor, Michigan City Council. Kozachenko ran on the ticket of the local, progressive Human Rights Party (HRP), which had already succeeded in winning two Ann Arbor council seats in 1972.
Elaine Noble is first openly gay candidate elected to state office
New Kensington, PA resident Elaine Noble is the first openly gay candidate elected to a state office when she is elected to the Massachusetts State legislature. In March 1977, she was part of the first delegation of gay men and lesbians invited to the White House under President Jimmy Carter to discuss issues important to the LGBT community.
Lambda Legal is Formed
Lambda Legal becomes the first legal organization established to fight for the equal rights of gays and lesbians. Lambda also becomes its own first client after being denied non-profit status by the New York Supreme Court. Basing its Articles of Incorporation on those of the Puerto Rican Legal Defense & Education Fund (PRLDEF), Atty. Bill Thom founds Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund.
Maryland becomes first state to define marriage
Maryland becomes the first state in the nation to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman, expressly banning same-sex marriage. In February 2012, after much debate, a law permitting same-sex marriage was passed by the General Assembly and signed on March 1, 2012. The law took effect on January 1, 2013 after 52.4% of voters approved a statewide referendum held on November 6, 2012. The vote was hailed as a watershed moment by gay rights activists and marked the first time marriage rights in the U.S. have been extended to same-sex couples by popular vote.
PFLAG holds first meeting
The first meeting of “Parents and Friends of Gays” is held. The organization eventually goes national as Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG). PFLAG has 400 chapters and 200,000 supporters crossing multiple generations of American families in major urban centers, small cities, and rural areas in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.
American Psychiatric Association removes homosexuality from list of mental disorders
By a vote of 5,854 to 3,810, the American Psychiatric Association removes homosexuality from its list of mental disorders in the DSM-II Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders and shifted into parentheses of the new diagnosis of sexual orientation disturbance. Homosexuality completely disappeared from the DSM in 1987.
U.S. Supreme Court rules for marriage equality
The Supreme Court rules that states cannot ban same-sex marriage. The 5-4 ruling had Justice Anthony Kennedy writing for the majority with the four liberal justices. Each of the four conservative justices writes their own dissent.
First Gay Pride Parade Occurs in New York City
Community members in New York City march through the local streets to recognize the one-year anniversary of the Stonewall riots. This event is named Christopher Street Liberation Day, and is now considered the first gay pride parade. Despite widespread fear of police obstruction and public violence, the march took less than half the scheduled time due to excitement, but also due to wariness about walking through the city with gay banners and signs. Although the parade permit was delivered only two hours before the start of the march, the marchers encountered little resistance from onlookers. All of the New York City gay and lesbian groups participated as well as visitors, and the march attracted national media attention. A sister march held by the Christopher Street West Association was held in Los Angeles.
Stonewall Riots Occur in New York City
In the early morning hours of June 28, 1969, police raided the Stonewall Inn, a popular gay bar in the Greenwich Village section of New York City. That night the street erupted into violent protests and demonstrations that lasted for the next six days. The Stonewall riots, as they came to be known, marked a major turning point in the modern gay civil rights movement in the United States and around the world. Two often-forgotten people who made an impact that night were transgender women of color: Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera. Johnson was a patron at the bar who “really started it” on the night of the riots, according to one witness in the book Stonewall: The Riots That Sparked the Gay Revolution. Originally from New Jersey, Johnson moved to the West Village in 1967 to escape the bigotry she had faced growing up across the river. She went to Stonewall that…
Illinois Becomes First State to Decriminalize Homosexuality
Illinois becomes the first state to decriminalize homosexuality by repealing their sodomy law. The repeal was part of the state’s adoption of the Model Penal Code, and so it slipped through as part of the larger law reform package. The code also abrogated common-law crimes and established an age of consent of 18. However, the code also made it a crime to commit a “lewd fondling or caress of the body of another person of the same sex” in a public place. In 1963, the legislature passed a new law that changed the words “the same sex” to “either sex Illinois voters made it more difficult ever to reinstate a sodomy law when they adopted a constitutional amendment in 1970 granting people the right “to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and other possessions against unreasonable searches and seizures, invasions of privacy or interceptions of communications.
KQED Airs First Documentary about Homosexuality
The first U.S. televised documentary about homosexuality called “The Rejected” airs on KQED in California. The Rejected is comprised of varied discussions about sexual orientation from Margaret Mead (anthropologist); Dr. Karl Bowman (former President of the American Psychiatric Association); Harold Call, Donald Lucas and Les Fisher of the Mattachine Society; San Francisco District Attorney Thomas Lynch; Dr. Erwin Braff (Director of San Francisco’s Bureau for Disease Control; Al Bendich; Mr J. Albert Hutchinson and Mr. Morris Lowenthal (who engage in debate); Bishop James Pike and Rabbi Alvin Fine. The show was later syndicated to National Educational Television (NET) stations across the country.
The Mattachine Society is Formed
The Mattachine Society is formed by activist Harry Hay and is one of the first sustained gay rights groups in the U.S. The primary goals of the society were to “Unify homosexuals isolated from their own kind”; “Educate homosexuals and heterosexuals toward an ethical homosexual culture paralleling the cultures of the Negro, Mexican and Jewish peoples”; “Lead the more socially conscious homosexual to provide leadership to the whole mass of social variants”; and “Assist gays who are victimized daily as a result of oppression.”
President Eisenhower Bans Homosexuals from Working for the U.S. Government
President Dwight D. Eisenhower signs an executive order that bans homosexuals from working for the federal government, saying they are a security risk. His actions resulted in an unintended positive effect as it inspired a new sense of anger and outrage in the gay and lesbian community.
The American Psychiatric Association Lists Homosexuality as a Sociopathic Personality Disturbance
The American Psychiatric Association’s diagnostic manual lists homosexuality as a sociopathic personality disturbance.
First Known Lesbian Rights Organization Formed
The Daughters of Bilitis (DOB), the first known lesbian rights organization forms in San Francisco. They host private social functions, fearing police raids, threats of violence and discrimination in bars and clubs.
The Society for Human Rights is founded in Chicago
The Society for Human Rights is founded by Henry Gerber in Chicago. It is the first documented gay rights organization, having received a charter from Illinois and produced the first American publication for homosexuals called Friendship and Freedom.” No copy of Friendship and Freedom survives today. Gerber was posthumously inducted into the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame in 1992. The Henry Gerber House, located at 1701 N. Crilly Court, Chicago, contains the apartment in which Gerber lived when he founded the Society. It was designated a Chicago Landmark on June 1, 2001 and was named a National Historic Landmark in June 2015.