LGBTQ+ History

June is Pride month. Around the country there have been laws passed and introduced that make it harder for LGBTQ+ people so it is especially important to use Pride month as a time to learn how to support LGBTQ+ folks. It is also a great time to learn about the history of LGBTQ+ people throughout time! Interested in learning more about LGBTQ+ identities? Check it out here.

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, marking the first US Gay Pride week and march.
  • 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-founds 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.
  • 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.

Remember: there is still a lot left to do, especially as some people are trying to make it harder for LGBTQ+ people. 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.