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LGBTQ Community in the U.S. Timeline

By Juanktq
  • 1610

    The Colony of Virginia enacts a military order that criminalizes male sodomy, making it punishable by death.
  • 1610

    In the Colony of Virginia, the military order banning sodomy ended when martial law was terminated upon the change in control of Virginia Colony.
  • Period: to

    LGBTQ Community in the U.S.

  • 1624

    Richard Cornish of the Virginia Colony is tried and hanged for sodomy.
  • 1649

    The first known conviction for lesbian activity in North America occurs in March when Sarah White Norman is charged with "Lewd behaviour with each other upon a bed" with Mary Vincent Hammon in Plymouth, Massachusetts. Hammon was under 16 and not prosecuted.
  • 1655

    The Connecticut Colony passes a law against sodomy, which includes a punishment for lesbian intercourse as well.
  • 1661

    The Colony of Virginia enacts English common law, thus criminalizing male-to-male sodomy again.
  • 1870

    Joseph and His Friend: A Story of Pennsylvania is published, possibly the first American novel about a homosexual relationship.
  • 1892

    Popular openly bisexual poet Edna St. Vincent Millay is born on 22 February.
  • 1894

    Biologist and pioneer of human sexuality Alfred Kinsey is born on 23 June.
  • 1903

    In New York City on 21 February 1903, New York police conducted the first United States recorded raid on a gay bathhouse, the Ariston Hotel Baths. 26 men were arrested and 12 brought to trial on sodomy charges; 7 men received sentences ranging from 4 to 20 years in prison.
  • 1906

    Potentially the first openly gay American novel with a happy ending, Imre, is published.
  • 1913

    The word faggot is first used in print in reference to gays in a vocabulary of criminal slang published in Portland, Oregon: "All the fagots[sic] (sissies) will be dressed in drag at the ball tonight".
  • 1924

    The Society for Human Rights is founded by Henry Gerber in Chicago. The society is the first gay rights organization as well as the oldest documented in America. After receiving a charter from the state of Illinois, the society publishes the first American publication for homosexuals, Friendship and Freedom. Soon after its founding, the society disbands due to political pressure.
  • 1926

    The New York Times is the first major publication to use the word "homosexuality".
  • 1929

    The New York Times is the first major publication to use the word "homosexuality".
  • 1936

    Mona's 440 Club, the first lesbian bar in America, opened in San Francisco in 1936.
  • 1948

    Biologist and sex researcher Alfred Kinsey publishes Sexual Behavior in the Human Male. From his research Kinsey concludes that homosexual behavior is not restricted to people who identify themselves as homosexual and that 37% of men have enjoyed homosexual activities at least once. While psychologists and psychiatrists in the 1940s consider homosexuality a form of illness, the findings surprise many conservative notions about sexuality.
  • 1950

    In Los Angeles, gay rights activist Harry Hay founds America’s first sustained national gay rights organization. In an attempt to change public perception of homosexuality, the Mattachine Society aims to "eliminate discrimination, derision, prejudice and bigotry," to assimilate homosexuals into mainstream society, and to cultivate the notion of an "ethical homosexual culture."
  • 1950

    A Senate report titled "Employment of Homosexuals and Other Sex Perverts in Government" is distributed to members of Congress after the federal government had covertly investigated employees' sexual orientation at the beginning of the Cold War. The report states since homosexuality is a mental illness, homosexuals "constitute security risks" to the nation because "those who engage in overt acts of perversion lack the emotional stability of normal persons."
  • 1952

    The American Psychiatric Association lists homosexuality as a sociopathic personality disturbance in its first publication of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Immediately following the manual's release, many professionals in medicine, mental health and social sciences criticize the categorization due to lack of empirical and scientific data.
  • 1953

    The Diana Foundation was founded on 19 March 1953 in Houston, TX by a small group of friends. The Diana Foundation is a nonprofit organization and recognized as the oldest continuously active gay organization in the United States and hosts two annual fundraising events including its Diana Awards.
  • 1953

    President Dwight Eisenhower signs Executive Order 10450, banning homosexuals from working for the federal government or any of its private contractors. The Order lists homosexuals as security risks, along with alcoholics and neurotics.
  • 1955

    The Daughters of Bilitis (DOB) was founded in San Francisco in 1955 by four lesbian couples and was the first national lesbian political and social organization in the US. The group's name came from "Songs of Bilitis," a lesbian-themed song cycle by French poet Pierre Louÿs. DOB's activities included hosting public forums on homosexuality, offering support to isolated, married, and mothering lesbians, and participating in research activities. Mattachine Society New York chapter founded.
  • 1956

    American psychologist Evelyn Hooker shares her paper "The Adjustment of the Male Overt Homosexual" at the APA Convention in Chicago. After administering psychological tests, such as the Rorschach, to groups of homosexual and heterosexual males, Hooker's research concludes homosexuality is not a clinical entity and that heterosexuals and homosexuals do not differ significantly. Hooker's experiment becomes very influential, changing clinical perceptions of homosexuality.
  • 1957

    The word "Transsexual" is coined by U.S. physician Harry Benjamin; The Wolfenden Committee's report recommends decriminalizing consensual homosexual behaviour between adults in the United Kingdom; Psychologist Evelyn Hooker publishes a study showing that homosexual men are as well adjusted as non-homosexual men, which becomes a major factor in the American Psychiatric Association removing homosexuality from its handbook of disorders in 1973.
  • 1958

    Barbara Gittings founds the New York chapter of Daughters of Bilitis.
  • 1958

    In the landmark case One, Inc. v. Olesen, the United States Supreme Court rules in favor of the First Amendment rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) magazine "One: The Homosexual Magazine." The suit was filed after the U.S. Postal Service and FBI declared the magazine obscene material, and it marks the first time the United States Supreme Court rules in favor of homosexuals.
  • 1960

    Cpls. Fannie Mae Clackum and Grace Garner, U.S. Air Force reservists in the late 1940s and early 1950s, became the first people to successfully challenge their discharges from the U.S. military for being gay, although the ruling turned on the fact that there wasn’t enough evidence to show the women were lesbians — rather than that there was nothing wrong with it if they were.
  • 1962

    Illinois repeals its sodomy laws, becoming the first U.S. state to decriminalize homosexuality.
  • 1965

    At Independence Hall in Philadelphia, picketers begin staging the first Reminder Day to call public attention to the lack of civil rights for LGBT people. The gatherings will continue annually for five years.
  • 1966

    The first lesbian to appear on the cover of the lesbian magazine The Ladder with her face showing was Lilli Vincenz in January 1966. A coalition of Homosexual organizations organized demonstrations for Armed Forces Day to protest the exclusion of LGBT from the U.S. armed services. The Los Angeles group held a 15-car motorcade, which has been identified as the nation’s first gay pride parade.
  • 1966

    Members of the Mattachine Society stage a "sip-in" at the Julius Bar in Greenwich Village, where the New York Liquor Authority prohibits serving gay patrons in bars on the basis that homosexuals are "disorderly." Society president Dick Leitsch and other members announce their homosexuality and are immediately refused service.
    Following the sip-in, the Mattachine Society will sue the NY Liquor Authority. The NY City Commission on Human Rights declares that homosexuals have the right to be served.
  • 1966

    After transgender customers become raucous in a 24-hour San Francisco cafeteria, management calls police. When a police officer manhandles one of the patrons, she throws coffee in his face and a riot ensues, eventually spilling out onto the street, destroying police and public property.
    Following the riot, activists established the National Transsexual Counseling Unit, the first peer-run support and advocacy organization in the world.
  • 1969

    Patrons of the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village riot when police officers attempt to raid the popular gay bar around 1am. Since its establishment in 1967, the bar had been frequently raided by police officers trying to clean up the neighborhood of "sexual deviants."
    Angry gay youth clash with aggressive police officers in the streets, leading to a three-day riot. The event reignited the fire behind America's modern LGBT rights movement.
  • 1970

    Christopher St. Liberation Day commemorates the one-year anniversary of the Stonewall riots. Following the event, thousands of members of the LGBT community march through New York into Central Park, in what will be considered America's first gay pride parade.
    In the coming decades, the annual gay pride parade will spread to dozens of countries around the world.
  • 1973

    The board of the American Psychiatric Association votes to remove homosexuality from its list of mental illnesses.
  • 1974

    Kathy Kozachenko becomes the first openly gay American elected to public office when she wins a seat on the Ann Arbor, Michigan City Council.
  • 1977

    Singer and conservative Southern Baptist Anita Bryant leads a successful campaign with the "Save Our Children" Crusade to repeal a gay rights ordinance in Dade County, Florida. Bryant faces severe backlash from gay rights supporters across the U.S. The gay rights ordinance will not be reinstated in Dade County until December 1, 1998, more than 20 years later.
  • 1977

    Harvey Milk wins a seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and is responsible for introducing a gay rights ordinance protecting gays and lesbians from being fired from their jobs. Milk also leads a successful campaign against Proposition 6, an initiative forbidding homosexual teachers.
    A year later, on November 27, 1978, former city supervisor Dan White assassinates Milk. White's actions are motivated by jealousy and depression, rather than homophobia.
  • 1979

    Dan White is convicted of voluntary manslaughter and is sentenced to seven years in prison. Outraged by what they believed to be a lenient sentence, more than 5,000 protesters ransack San Francisco's City Hall, doing hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of property damage in the surrounding area.
    The following night, approximately 10,000 people gather on San Francisco's Castro and Market streets for a peaceful demonstration to commemorate what would have been Milk's 49th birthday.
  • 1979

    An estimated 75,000 people participate in the National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights. LGBT people and straight allies demand equal civil rights and urge for the passage of protective civil rights legislature.
  • 1980

    The Democratic Rules Committee states that it will not discriminate against homosexuals. At their National Convention on August 11-14, the Democrats become the first major political party to endorse a homosexual rights platform.
  • 1981

    The New York Times prints the first story of a rare pneumonia and skin cancer found in 41 gay men in New York and California. The CDC initially refers to the disease as GRID, Gay Related Immune Deficiency Disorder.
    When the symptoms are found outside the gay community, Bruce Voeller, biologist and founder of the National Gay Task Force, successfully lobbies to change the name of the disease to AIDS.
  • 1982

    Wisconsin becomes the first U.S. state to outlaw discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
  • 1987

    AIDS advocacy group ACT UP (The AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power) is formed in response to the devastating affects the disease has had on the gay and lesbian community in New York. The group holds demonstrations against pharmaceutical companies profiteering from AIDS-related drugs as well as the lack of AIDS policies protecting patients from outrageous prescription prices.
  • 1987

    Hundreds of thousands of activists take part in the National March on Washington to demand that President Ronald Reagan address the AIDS crisis.
    Although AIDS had been reported first in 1981, it is not until the end of his presidency that Reagan speaks publicly about the epidemic.
  • 1988

    The CDC mails a brochure, Understanding AIDS, to every household in the U.S. Approximately 107 million brochures are mailed.
  • 1988

    The World Health Organization organizes the first World AIDS Day to raise awareness of the spreading pandemic.
  • 1990

    President George Bush signs the Ryan White Care Act, a federally funded program for people living with AIDS. Ryan White, an Indiana teenager, contracted AIDS in 1984 through a tainted hemophilia treatment. After being barred from attending school because of his HIV-positive status, Ryan White becomes a well-known activist for AIDS research and anti-discrimination.
  • 1991

    Created by the New York-based Visual AIDS, the red ribbon is adopted as a symbol of awareness and compassion for those living with HIV/AIDS.
  • 1993

    The Department of Defense issues a directive prohibiting the U.S. Military from barring applicants from service based on their sexual orientation. "Applicants... shall not be asked or required to reveal whether they are homosexual, " states the new policy, which still forbids applicants from engaging in homosexual acts or making a statement that he or she is homosexual. This policy is known as "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."
  • 1996

    In the case of Romer v. Evans, the United States Supreme Court decides that Colorado's 2nd amendment, denying gays and lesbians protections against discrimination, is unconstitutional, calling them "special rights."
  • 1996

    President Clinton signs the Defense of Marriage Act into law. The law defines marriage as a legal union between one man and one woman and that no state is required to recognize a same-sex marriage from out of state.
  • 1998

    Coretta Scott King, widow of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., calls on the civil rights community to join the struggle against homophobia. She receives criticism from members of the black civil rights movement for comparing civil rights to gay rights.
  • 2000

    Vermont becomes the first state in the U.S. to legalize civil unions and registered partnerships between same-sex couples.
  • 2003

    In Lawrence v. Texas the U.S. Supreme Court rules that sodomy laws in the U.S. are unconstitutional.
  • 2004

    Massachusetts becomes the first state to legalize gay marriage. The court finds the prohibition of gay marriage unconstitutional because it denies dignity and equality of all individuals.
    In the following six years, New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut, Iowa and Washington D.C. will follow suit.
  • 2007

    Sponsored by the Human Rights Campaign, the Logo cable channel hosts the first American presidential forum focusing specifically on LGBT issues, inviting each presidential candidate. Six Democrats participate in the forum, including Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, while all Republican candidates decline.
  • 2008

    California voters approve Proposition 8, making same-sex marriage in California illegal. The passing of the ballot garners national attention from gay-rights supporters across the U.S. Prop 8 inspires the NOH8 campaign, a photo project that uses celebrities to promote marriage equality.
  • 2009

    President Obama signs a Presidential Memorandum allowing same-sex partners of federal employees to receive certain benefits. The memorandum does not cover full health coverage.
  • 2009

    The Matthew Shepard Act is passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama on October 28th. The measure expands the 1969 U.S. Federal Hate Crime Law to include crimes motivated by a victim's actual or perceived gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability.
    Matthew Shepard was tortured and murdered near Laramie, Wyoming on October 7, 1998 because of his sexual orientation.
  • 2010

    A federal judge in San Francisco decides that gays and lesbians have the constitutional right to marry and that Prop 8 is unconstitutional. Lawyers will challenge the finding.
  • 2010

    The U.S. Senate votes 65-31 to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly in the U.S. Military.
  • 2011

    Same-sex marriage laws passed and came into effect in New York and the Suquamish Tribe.
    Civil Union/Registered Partnership laws passed and came into effect in Illinois (with joint adoption rights), and passed in Delaware (came into effect 2013) and Hawaii (came into effect January 2012).
  • 2011

    End to ban on openly gay, lesbian, and bisexual people in the military.
  • 2011

    President Obama states his administration will no longer defend the Defense of Marriage Act, which bans the recognition of same-sex marriage.
  • 2011

    New York State passes the Marriage Equity Act, becoming the largest state thus far to legalize gay marriage.
  • 2012

    Kyrsten Sinema became the first openly bisexual person elected to the U.S. Congress in 2012.
  • 2012

    Same-sex marriage laws passed and came into effect in Maine and Washington, and passed in Maryland.
    Civil Union/Registered Partnership laws came into effect in Hawaii.
  • 2012

    The U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development's Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity issued a regulation to prohibit LGBT discrimination in federally assisted housing programs. The new regulations ensure that the Department's core housing programs are open to all eligible persons, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.
  • 2012

    Katie Ricks became the first open lesbian ordained by the Presbyterian Church.
  • 2012

    Barack Obama became the first U.S. president to publicly announce support for same-sex marriage on 9 May.
  • 2012

    Tammy Baldwin, a seven-term Democratic congresswoman from Wisconsin, prevails over former governor Tommy Thompson in the race for U.S. Senate and becomes the first openly gay politician elected to the Senate. Also on Election Day, gay marriage is approved in a popular vote for the first time. Maine and Maryland vote in favor of allowing same-sex marriage. In addition, voters in Minnesota reject a measure to ban same-sex marriage.
  • 2013

    Several Republicans back a legal brief asking the Supreme Court to rule that same-sex marriage is a constitutional right. More than 100 Republicans are listed on the brief. The brief is filed as the U.S. Supreme Court prepares to consider overturning Proposition 8, the California initiative banning same-sex marriage, as well as overturning the Defense of Marriage Act, a federal law passed during Bill Clinton's presidency, which defines marriage as between a man and a woman.
  • 2013

    The Supreme Court begins two days of historical debate over gay marriage. During the debate, the Supreme Court consider overturning Proposition 8, the California initiative banning same-sex marriage, and the Defense of Marriage Act, a federal law passed during Bill Clinton's presidency, which defines marriage as between a man and a woman. The Supreme Court's decision will be announced in June 2013.
  • 2013

    Jason Collins of the NBA's Washington Wizards announces in an essay in Sports Illustrated that he is gay. "I'm a 34-year-old N.B.A. center. I'm black and I'm gay," he writes. Collins is the first active athlete in the NBA, NFL, NHL, or MLB to make the announcement.
  • 2013

    After same-sex marriage legislation passes in both houses of Rhode Island's legislature, Governor Lincoln Chafee signs it into law. The new law, legalizing same-sex marriage, goes into effect on August 1, 2013.
  • 2013

    Governor Jack Markell signs the Civil Marriage Equality and Religious Freedom act, legalizing same-sex marriage for the state of Delaware. The new law goes into effect on July 1, 2013.
  • 2013

    In Minnesota, the State Senate votes 37 to 30 in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage. The vote comes a week after it passes in the House. Governor Mark Dayton, a supporter of same-sex marriage, says he will sign the bill the following afternoon. Gay couples will be able to marry in Minnesota in August 2013.
  • 2013

    The Supreme Court rules that the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional. In a 5 to 4 vote, the court rules that DOMA violates the rights of gays and lesbians. The court also rules that the law interferes with the states' rights to define marriage. It is the first case ever on the issue of gay marriage for the Supreme Court.
  • 2013

    Minnesota and Rhode Island begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples this month.
  • 2013

    In an unanimous vote, the New Jersey Supreme Court rejects Gov. Chris Christie's request to delay the implementation date of same-sex weddings. Same-sex couples in New Jersey begin to marry. Just hours later, Christie drops his appeal to legalize same-sex marriages. Therefore, New Jersey becomes the 14th state to recognize same-sex marriages.
  • 2013

    Hawaii becomes the 16th state to recognize same-sex marriages when the Senate passes a gay marriage bill, which had already passed in the House. Governor Neil Abercrombie, a vocal supporter of gay marriage, says he will sign the bill. Beginning December 2, gay couples who are residents of Hawaii as well as tourists can marry in the state. State Senator J. Kalani English says, "This is nothing more than the expansion of aloha in Hawaii."
  • 2013

    Illinois becomes the 15th state to recognize same-sex marriages when the House of Representatives approves the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act, which passed the state Senate in February 2013. Governor Pat Quinn, a strong supporter of same-sex marriage, will sign it into law. The new law will be implemented on June 1, 2014.
  • 2014

    The United States Supreme Court blocks any further same-sex marriages in Utah while state officials appeal the decision made by Judge Shelby in late December 2013. The block creates legal limbo for the 1,300 same-sex couples who have received marriage licenses since Judge Shelby's ruling.
  • 2014

    The Obama administration announces that the federal government will recognize the marriages of the 1,300 same-sex couples in Utah even though the state government has currently decided not to do so. With federal approval, same-sex couples will be able to receive spousal benefits, like health insurance for federal employees and filing joint federal income tax returns.
  • 2014

    Same-sex marriage becomes legal in Oregon when a U.S. federal district judge rules that the state's 2004 constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage violates the Equal Protection clause in the U.S. Constitution.
  • 2014

    A judge strikes down the same-sex marriage ban in Pennsylvania, making the state the 18th to legalize gay marriage. The judge rules that Pennsylvania's 1996 ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. The state is the last in the Northeast to legalize same-sex marriage. Before now, the state did not even recognize domestic partnerships or civil unions.
  • 2014

    The U.S. Supreme Court declines to hear appeals of rulings in Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia, and Wisconsin that allowed same-sex marriage. The move paves the way for same-sex marriages in the five states. In fact, Virginia announced that unions would begin that day.
  • 2014

    The U.S. Supreme Court denies a request to block same-sex marriage in Kansas.
  • 2014

    A federal judge strikes down Montana's ban that same-sex marriage is unconstitutional.
  • 2014

    The U.S. Supreme Court denies a request to block same-sex marriage in South Carolina. The ruling means South Carolina becomes the 35th U.S. state where same-sex marriage is legal.
  • 2015

    The U.S. Supreme Court ruled, 5–4, in Obergefell v. Hodges that same-sex couples have the fundamental right to marry and that states cannot say that marriage is reserved for heterosexual couples. "Under the Constitution, same-sex couples seek in marriage the same legal treatment as opposite-sex couples, and it would disparage their choices and diminish their personhood to deny them this right," Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the majority opinion.
  • 2015

    The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) ended its ban on gay adult leaders. The new policy was approved by the BSA National Executive Board by a 45-12 vote. The new policy did still allow church-sponsored Scout groups to ban gay adults for religious reasons.
  • 2016

    In the year since the June 26, 2015 landmark Supreme Court decision Obergefell v. Hodges that extended the right for same-sex couples to marry nationwide, the LGBT community has been fighting against discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations.
  • 2016

    President Obama weighed in on the "toilet wars"—legislation being hashed out in some states about which bathrooms transgender people have the right to use—with the guidelines: students may use bathrooms according to their self-identified gender.