By: Ally W.

LGTBQ+ History Month begins on October 1st and ends on October 31st. In light of this event, and National Coming Out Day, I want to share with you the history of the LGBTQ+ community. 

Back in the 1600s, people were executed, fined, or whipped for committing homosexual activities or dressing like the other sex. There were private places where people met up to talk, like the Hull House in 1889. Later on in 1924, Henry Gerber founded the Society For Human Rights in Chicago. This was the first documented gay organization in the US. The police disbanded this organization in 1925. In 1950, Harry Hay founded the Mattachine Society, a group for gay men.

In April of 1953, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) declared homosexuality as a “sociopathic personality disorder” in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM). They removed this from the manual in 1973: APA’s members voted on whether or not they think that homosexuality was a mental illness. 5,854 people voted no, opposed to the 3,810 people who said it was a mental illness. Then, the APA replaced it with “sexual orientation disturbance" for people who were unsure about their identity. Later on, homosexuality left the manual for good. 

Also in 1953, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed an order stating that homosexuals could not work for the federal government because of the “security risks.”

On June 28, 1969, the police force raided the Stonewall Inn. Sometimes referred to as Stonewall for short, this building was a gay bar located in Lower Manhattan. People were forced out of the Inn and 13 of them were arrested - the people who had been inside the bar refused to leave, which angered the police. One policeman hit a woman on the head which caused the people to throw pennies, cobblestone, and bottles at the police. This started up riots that went on for 6 days. The Stonewall Riots are now seen as the beginning of the US’s gay civil rights movement. 

On June 28th, 1970, LGBTQ members marched through some of New York City for the 1-year anniversary of the Stonewall Inn riots. They named this event the Christopher Street Liberation Day March. Everyone would chant “Say it loud, gay is proud!” This became the US’s first pride march. Later in 2016, Barack Obama made the Stonewall Inn and Christopher Park a monument of gay rights. 

In 1993 Bill Clinton signed the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, which allowed gay Americans to serve in the military, as long as they did not disclose their sexual orientation. Also, people within the military could not harass those they believed to be gay. Prior to this, individuals who identified as part of the LGBTQ+ community were completely banned from the military. “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was repealed on September 20th, 2011. 

In 1996 Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage Act saying that people of the same sex cannot marry. Three months later Judge Chang in Hawaii said that lesbians and gays are entitled to the same rights as heterosexuals and made it possible for same sex to marry in Hawaii. In 2012, President Obama became the first president to publicly support same sex marriage. Marriage equality was reached with a Supreme Court ruling on June 26, 2015.

In April of 2017, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals prohibited workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation. 

In 2018, the first trans person signed on to the US Military. Later on March 23 of that year, President Trump sent out a tweet saying that transgender people could not join the military because of the medical expenses. 

Additionally, court cases have been won about desegregating bathrooms (segregated bathrooms were deemed unconstitutional) as well as gender confirmation surgery for an inmate at the Idaho Department of Correction. 

The LGBTQ+ community has evolved in many ways. It has grown in confident members, loyal supporters, and loving families and friends all around the world. While it is true that the LGBTQ+ community still faces adversity, we can overcome it together.


CA TreeHugger. “When homosexuality was mental illness.” Daily Kos, 26 April 2011, When homosexuality was mental illness. Accessed September 29 2020.

CNN Editorial Research. “LGBTQ Rights Milestones Fast Facts.” CNN, 2 September 2020, Accessed 28 September 2020. Editors. “Stonewall Riots.” HISTORY, A&E Television Networks, 31 May 2017, Accessed 28 September 2020.

Roth, Kenneth. “LGBT: Moving Towards Equality.” Human Rights Watch, 23 January 2015, Accessed 28 September 2020.

“Stonewall Inn is raided by the police in 1969.” Daily News, 23 June 2015, Accessed 28 September 2020.

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