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Historical Timeline



Colonial Plymouth established "Puritan Norms" which expressed gender norms and the nuclear family unit was the basis for all institutions. The nuclear family is described as a heterosexual family with a mother ( who took the submissive role and functioned as the "homemaker"), a father (who took the dominant role and functioned as the "breadwinner"), and children. 

Francis Bacon who was in an openly gay relationship with George Dyer and coined the term "masculine love" publishes the "The Advancement of Learning - an argument for empirical research and against superstitions" which earned him the title of the "father of Modern Science"


Richard Cornish of the Virginia Colony is tried and hanged for sodomy. A sodomy law is a law that defines certain sexual acts as crimes. 


Sarah White Norman and Mary Vincent Hammon are charged with “lewd behavior” in Plymouth, Massachusetts. This is believed to be the first conviction for lesbian behavior in the new world. 


The term lesbian is first used by William King in his book, The Toast (1736), published in England. The term referred to women who loved women.


Thomas Jefferson revises Virginia law to make sodomy (committed by men or women) punishable by mutilation rather than death. It was rejected by the Virginia legislature


Blues singer Ma Rainey is arrested in her house in Harlem for having a lesbian party. Her protégé, Bessie Smith, bails her out of jail the following morning. Rainey and Smith were part of an extensive circle of lesbian and bisexual African‐American women in Harlem.


Jennie Hodgers disguised as a man named Albert Cashier, enlisted in the Union army in Illinois and fought for three years until the end of the war. She continued living as a man even after the war.

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The 14-page, full-size, in-color zine includes the collected artwork of local LGBTQ+ identifying artists: poetry, astrology, “queerscopes,” paintings, digital and mixed-media art, and fictional stories are among the offerings to be enjoyed by readers. “The LQ” was created to help unite the queer community, said Kye Hallows, “because we know how large it is and think that it might help others who aren’t familiar with the scene to feel supported and seen.” The art zines, funded by an Ogden Arts Grant, are available for purchase exclusively at Hallows’ record shop, Lavender Vinyl, located on Historic 25th Street.

                                                               - Standard-Examiner

                                               Instagram: @the_lq_,



The Fourteenth Amendment was ratified. The Fourteenth Amendment is one of the most utilized examples of civil rights. 



Hungarian journalist and sex-law reformer Karl-Maria Kertheny first used the term homosexual.

We’wha, a Zuni Native American from New Mexico, is received by US President Grover Cleveland as a “Zuni Princess” for their accomplishments as a weaver, potter. They are now described as mixed-gender or Two-Spirit.


Henry James writes the book, The Bostonians, about a long-term relationship between two women, and the term “Boston Marriages” develops.

The pamphlet, “Psychopathia Sexualis” is one of the first times the term bisexual is used.



Trial of Oscar Wilde

Oscar Wilde, a writer and novelist gets convicted for gross indecency (relationships with other men) and serves two years in jail.

Henry Gerber forms the first gay rights organization in Chicago. The Society for Human Rights published the earliest-documented homosexual periodical, Friendship and Freedom. However, the organization was quickly shut down and almost all members were arrested. 


Nearly 100,000 German homosexual men were placed in concentration camps. They were designated a pink triangle on their clothing. The men were the last group to be released from the Nazi concentration camps after liberation, due to Paragraph 175 (which stated homosexual relations were illegal). 



 U.S. Congress issues the report entitled “Employment of Homosexuals and Other Sex Perverts in Government”  distributed to members of Congress after the federal government had covertly investigated employees’ sexual orientation. The report states that since homosexuality is a mental illness, homosexuals “constitute security risks” to the nation.



The Mattachine Society was formed in Los Angeles, California by activist Harry Hay and is one of the first sustained gay rights groups in the United States. 

U.S. Congress passes the Immigration Act which bared “aliens afflicted with a psychopathic personality, epilepsy or mental defect.” Congress made clear that the new law included "homosexuals and sex perverts"


Christine Jorgensen is the first American who comes forward publicly about being transgender and speaks openly about her experiences with gender confirmation surgery and hormone replacement therapy. 

Executive Order 10450 also known as the "Lavender Scare" issued by President Dwight D. Eisenhower banned homosexuals from working for the federal government, stating they were a security risk. 


Nearly 100,000 German homosexual men were placed in concentration camps. They were designated a pink triangle on their clothing. The men were the last group to be released from the Nazi concentration camps after liberation, due to Paragraph 175 (which stated homosexual relations were illegal). 





The Daughters of Bilitis (DOB), considered to be the first lesbian rights organization, is formed by Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon in San Francisco, California. The group is conceived as a social alternative to lesbian bars, which were considered illegal and thus subject to raids and police harassment. 

James Baldwin, an African‐American novelist publishes his first novel, Giovanni’s Room, a critically acclaimed work that explores bisexuality, as well as intimate relationships between men.

Frank Kameny, an astronomer dismissed from government service due for being homosexual. He then became the first openly gay man to testify before Congress. 

Illinois becomes the first state to remove sodomy law from its criminal code and decriminalize homosexual acts between two consenting adults in private.


Bayard Rustin, an associate of Martin Luther King, and a gay African American man helped organize the March on Washington that culminated with King’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech.






The first gay rights demonstration in the USA takes place on September 19th at the Whitehall Induction Center in New York City, protesting against discrimination in
the military.

Compton Cafeteria Riot broke out at a San Francisco eatery when trans women were denied service and arrested for breaking gendered clothing laws. fter several days, the protests stopped.

The Oscar Wilde Memorial Bookshop opened in New York City by Craig Rodwell. The bookshop was the first of its kind in the U.S. that was devoted to gay history and gay rights.

Police raid the Stonewall Inn in New York City in the early hours of June 28. This leads to four days of struggle between police and LGBTQ people and marked a pivotal moment of the modern LGBTQ movement. Key people at the riots who went on to tell their stories were: Sylvia Rivera, Martha P. Johnson, Dick Leitsch, Seymore Pine and Craig Rodwell.

Gay Liberation Front organization formed in New York following the Stonewall Riots to advocate for sexual liberation for all people.


The Gay Activist Alliance formed in New York to “secure basic human rights, dignity and freedom for all gay people.”


The first gay pride marches were held in multiple cities across the United States on the first anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, including San Francisco and Los Angeles / West Hollywood.


Marsha “Pay It No Mind” Johnson and Sylvia Rivera are co-founders of Street Transvestites Action Revolutionaries (STAR).


The National Bisexual Liberation Group formed in New York.


The play, “Coming Out!” written by Jonathan Ned Katz, is performed for the first time in New York and provides a historical perspective of gay life from the colonial period to the present.


The American Psychiatric Association changed the classification of homosexuality as a mental disorder. However, it was not completely removed until 1987.


Elaine Noble becomes the first openly gay person to be elected as a state legislator; she served in the Massachusetts State House of Representatives for two terms.



Harvey Milk becomes the first openly gay person to be elected to public office in California when he wins a seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors

 Quebec, Canada passed laws to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation in both the private and public sectors.





In San Francisco, the Rainbow Flag is first flown during the Gay Freedom Parade; the flag becomes a symbol of gay and lesbian pride.

Over 100,000 people gathered in support of gay and lesbian rights at the National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights.

The GRIDS/AIDS Epidemic began. There were a total of 583, 298 U.S. men women and children who would die from AIDS through 2007.

The first memorial to the Nazi’s gay victims is unveiled at the Neuengamme concentration camp, a pink granite stone monument inscribed, “Dedicated to the
Homosexual victims of National Socialism.”


The organization, ACT UP formed in New York. The purpose of ACT UP was to impact the lives of people living with AIDS, to advocate for legislation, medical research and treatment, and to bring an end to the disease. 


Denmark becomes the first country in the world to legally recognize same-sex unions, after passing a bill legalizing “registered partnerships” in a 71–47 vote.





he U.S. Congress passed and President Bill Clinton signed “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” that allowed gay and lesbian people to serve in the military.

Kelli Peterson founds the Gay/Straight Alliance at East High School in Salt Lake City, Utah. The city school board bans all “non-curricular” student clubs in order to
keep the group from meeting.

Matthew Shepard, a 21-year-old student at the University of Wyoming, was brutally attacked and tied to a fence in a field outside of Laramie, Wyo. and left to die because he was gay. He died from his wounds several days later. This was one of the most notorious anti-gay hate crimes in America and resulted in a federal law passed 10 years later in 2009 called the “Hate Crimes Prevention Act.”

Tammy Baldwin became the first openly lesbian candidate ever elected to Congress, winning Wisconsin’s second congressional district seat over Josephine Musser


NYC expands the definition of “gender” to include protections for transgender and gender non-conforming people in employment, housing, and public
accommodations in the NYC Human Rights Law.


The U.S. Supreme Court overturns sodomy laws, proclaiming rights to privacy and decriminalizing “homosexual” behavior





Massachusetts becomes the first U.S. state to legally recognize same-sex marriage. 

Proposition 8 passes with a 52% yes vote in California declaring that marriage is between a man and a woman.

President Obama signs the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes and Prevention Act, also known as the Matthew Shepard Act, into law. The law expands the 1969 U.S. federal hate-crime law to include crimes motivated by a victim’s actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability, and becomes the first federal law to include legal protections for transgender people.



The U.S. Congress passed and President Barack Obama signed the repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” so that gay and lesbian people could serve openly in the military.

The Food and Drug Administration approves Truvada to be taken as a daily preventative for those at risk of acquiring HIV as PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis). TheCenter for Disease Control notes that this is the first time a drug has been approved to prevent acquisition of sexually and intravenous transmission of HIV. 

The US Supreme Court strikes down th Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). By a vote of 5-4 ruled that defining marriage as just between a man and a woman is unconstitutional under the Fifth Amendment guarantee of equal protection. 


The Department of Education issues official guidance to clarify that transgender students are protected from discrimination under Title IX, a federal civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against students on the bases of sex/gender in federally funded education programs and activities. 


The Supreme Court rules that states are constitutionally required to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, legalizing marriage equality in all 50 states. 


President Obama dedicated the new Stonewall National Monument in Greenwich Village, Lower Manhattan, as the first US National Monument to honor the LGBTQ
rights movement


GLAAD history and highlights, 1985-present. GLAAD. (2017, January 12). Retrieved June 16, 2022, from

Public Broadcasting Service. (2022). Milestones in the American Gay Rights Movement. PBS. Retrieved June 16, 2022, from

Ewart, A. (2020, June 30). LGBTQ+ Rights Movement: Take A walk through history. The Shutterstock Blog. Retrieved June 16, 2022, from

LGBTQ history. GLSEN. (n.d.). Retrieved June 16, 2022, from 

Lozano, E. (2018, October 3). LGBTQ timeline. The Current. Retrieved June 16, 2022, from 

A timeline of LGBTQ communities in the UK. British Library. (2022). Retrieved June 16, 2022, from 


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