Tracing the Rainbow: A History of the LGBTQ+ Community 

BY: Neighbors’ Consejo

The history of the LGBTQ+ community is a testament to resilience, courage and the relentless pursuit of equality. Understanding the importance of this movement is crucial in appreciating the strides made in social justice and human rights. This article sheds light on the community’s ongoing struggle against discrimination and the vital contributions it has made in shaping a more inclusive and equitable world.

The importance of the LGBTQ+ community in history cannot be overstated, this community has been at the forefront of advocating for civil rights, leading to groundbreaking changes in laws and societal attitudes. From the Stonewall riots to the legalization of same-sex marriage, the LGBTQ+ movement has been instrumental in pushing forward the boundaries of what is considered just and fair, ensuring that future generations inherit a more inclusive society.

1732LesbianThe term lesbian was first used by William King in his notebook, The Toast, published in England, which meant women who love women.
1869HomosexualHungarian journalist Karl-Maria Kerttheny first used the term homosexual.
1872, 1894, 1967BisexualThe pamphlet, “Psychopathia Sexualis” was translated from German and one of the first times the term bisexual is used. 1967: Sexual Freedom League formed in San Francisco in support of bisexual people.
1955GayThe term gay was used throughout Europe earlier, but this is the year most agree that gay came to mean same-sex relationships between men.
1965TransgenderJohn Oliven, in his book, Sexual Hygiene and Pathology, used the term transgender to mean a person who identifies with a gender other than the one they were assigned at birth.

The Gender and Sexuality Resource Center of the University of Northern Colorado, highlights historical figures in LGBTQ+ history: Langston Hughes, James Baldwin, Barbara Jordan, Hulleah Tsinhnahjinnie, Audre Lorde, Hannah Moushabeck, Hayley Kiyoko, Kiyoshi Kuromiya, Prince Mavendra Singh Gohil, Monica Helms, Harvey Milk, Frida Kahlo, Cherrie Moraga, Freddie Mercury, Alan Turing, Alok Vaid-Menon, Josephine Baker, Chi Chia-Wei, Colevia Carter, Dr. Ron Simmons, Willi Ninja, Amelio Robles Ávila, Chavela Vargas, Lorraine Vivian Hansberry, Stormé DeLaverie, etc.

 Sadly, it doesn’t matter how many years or centuries pass, we still hear quotes such as “you cannot be gay, you don’t act feminine, or wear make up!”; “How can you keep a monogamous relationship when you are bisexual?”; “How come you are a lesbian? You do not wear masculine clothes and have short hair!”; “So, you are a trans woman, but you do not look like the drag queens on social media!”; “Isn’t intersex just another word for transgender?” That is why it’s important to mention that “the stereotypes which are self-expression related (e.g. Clothing, grooming, make up, gestures, etc.,) put constant pressure on LGBTQ+ people to behave in a certain way, talk in a certain tone, wear certain type of clothes (i.e. straight acting) in order not to be labelled as LGBTQ+. The internal pressure builds up around self-expression brings about a lot of self-doubt, hate or a feeling of alienation.”

Let’s review some of the many achievements of the LGBTQ+ community in history:

  • 1950: The Mattachine Society is formed by activist Harry Hay and is one of the first sustained gay rights groups in the United States.
  • April 1952: The American Psychiatric Association’s diagnostic manual lists homosexuality as a sociopathic personality disturbance.
  • September 11, 1961: The first US- televised documentary about homosexuality airs on a local station in California.
  • January 1, 1973: Maryland becomes the first state to statutorily ban same sex-marriage.
  • October 11, 1988: The first National Coming Out Day is observed.
  • May 17, 2004: The first legal same-sex marriage in the United States takes place in Massachusetts.
  • June 30, 2016: Secretary of Defense Carter announces that the Pentagon is lifting the ban on transgender people serving openly in the US military.
  • September 22, 2019: Billy Porter becomes the first openly gay Black man to win the Emmy for best lead actor in a drama series.
  • April 26, 2024: The Biden administration announces a new rule expanding safeguards against potential discrimination of a gay and transgender Americans seeking medical care.

In conclusion, despite progress, the LGBTQ+ community continues to face harmful stereotypes and misconceptions. These societal pressures to conform to specific norms around self-expression highlight the ongoing struggle for true acceptance and the importance of challenging prejudices to foster a more understanding and supportive environment for all individuals.

References:

«Historical Figures of LGBTQ+ History». The Gender and Sexuality Resource Center, https://www.unco.edu/gender-sexuality-resource-center/resources/historical-figures.aspx.  

Inc, Gallup. «LGBT Identification in U.S. Ticks Up to 7.1%». Gallup.Com, https://news.gallup.com/poll/389792/lgbt-identification-ticks-up.aspx.

«LGBTQ Rights Timeline in American History » Teaching LGBTQ History». Teaching LGBTQ History, https://lgbtqhistory.org/lgbt-rights-timeline-in-american-history/.

Research, CNN Editorial. «LGBTQ Rights Milestones Fast Facts». CNN, https://www.cnn.com/2015/06/19/us/lgbt-rights-milestones-fast-facts/index.html.

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