LGBTQ+ History

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June is Pride month – a great time to learn about the history of LGBTQ+ people throughout time!

Since the beginning of recorded history, LGBTQ+ individuals have been accepted and celebrated. It wasn’t until the mid-1300s that there was widespread hostility toward people who identified as LGBTQ+. For PRIDE month, we’ve compiled this round-up of historical events.

2450 BCE:     In the first documentation of a same-sex couple, Egypt’s Khnumhotep and Niankhkhnum are buried together in a tomb with paintings that depict them embracing and kissing.

27 BCE:         During the Roman Empire, same-sex marriage is common and largely accepted.

630 CE:          Sappho, a popular lesbian poet in Greece, focuses her poetry on being a woman who loved other women.

1322:             Kalonymus ben Kalonymus writes “On Becoming a Woman,” a poem which is considered the first exploration of trans-identity.

1476:             Leonardo da Vinci, the famous painter, is taken to court with three other men to fight charges of sodomy. They are acquitted.

1502:             Famous painter, Sandro Botticelli, who had worked on the Sistine Chapel, is charged with sodomy.

1623:             Frances Bacon, the Father of Modern Science, coins the term “masculine love”

1868:             Herculine Barbin, a French intersex person who wrote some of the earliest records of intersex identity, dies. Her birthday, November 8, is now celebrated as Intersex Day of Remembrance.

1884:             Eleanor Roosevelt, the longest-serving first lady and notable human rights activist, is born. She had romantic relationships with women throughout her life.

1890:             Alan Hart is born. Hart was a trans man who pioneered the use of x-rays for tuberculosis diagnosis, saving thousands of lives.

1931:             The first gender affirmation surgery takes place in Berlin.

1961:             Illinois is the first state to decriminalize homosexuality.

1963:             The first gay rights demonstration in the United States takes place at the Whitehall Induction Center in New York. The protest is around discrimination of gay people in the military.

1969:             The modern LGBTQ+ movement begins with the police raid of the Stonewall Inn in New York. The raid is followed by a four-day struggle between the police and the LGBTQ+ community. Many of these LGBTQ+ people were transgender, young, or people of color.

1970:             New York City holds the first Gay Liberation Day march on June 28.

1973:             Homosexuality is removed as an official psychiatric disorder. The American Psychiatric Association also pushes for the repeal of discriminatory laws against LGBTQ+ people. Lambda Legal becomes the first legal organization established to fight for the equal rights of gays and lesbians, Parents and Friends of Gays (which became PFLAG) starts.

1977:             San Francisco elects Harvey Milk to the Board of Supervisors, making him the first openly gay person to be elected to public office.

1978:             The first rainbow flag, created by Gilbert Baker, is used at the San Francisco pride celebration.

1989:             Denmark becomes the first country in the world to legalize same sex unions.

1991:             Audre Lorde is named the State Poet of New York. A writer and social justice activist, Lorde co-finds the Kitchen Table Women of Color Press and edits the lesbian journal Chrysalis: A Magazine of Women’s Culture.

1996:             Kelli Peterson founds the first Gay-Straight Alliance Club in Salt Lake City.

1997:             Ellen DeGeneres becomes the first lesbian or gay lead character on a TV show.

1998:             Wisconsin elects Tammy Baldwin, the first openly lesbian candidate, to Congress.

2000:             Vermont becomes the first state to legalize same-sex unions.

2004:             San Francisco becomes the first city to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

2013:             The United States federally recognizes same-sex marriages.

2015:             The United States Supreme Court rules, in Obergefell v. Hodges, that all states must legalize same-sex marriage.

2016:             Jamie Shupe becomes the first person in the United States to legally change their gender to “non-binary.”

2019:             Billy Porter becomes the first openly gay black man to win an Emmy for best lead actor in a drama series.

This Pride Month, let’s be proud of how far LGBTQ+ rights have come in the United States. Remember: there is still a lot left to do. Think about ways to be proud of who you are, how to be an ally, and support rights for all! Check out more LGBTQ+ history and LGBTQ+ rights.