A brief history of Pride 

A brief history of Pride 



Pride milestones go back long before the modern day celebrations. Here are just a few highlights from history – with a focus on progress in the LGBTQ+ movement. For a deeper look at the timeline check out resources used to create this outline: lgbtqhistory.org and the Out in All Directions Almanac, the National Archives as well as numerous other sources. 

1732 – Lesbian as a term, meaning women who loved women, was first used by William King in his book, The Toast, published in England.

1852 – Writer J.D. Bothwick reports his attendance at a “miner’s ball” – a men’s only dance held in Angels’ Camp in California.

1886 – Henry James writes the book, The Bostonians, about a long term relationship between two women and the term “Boston Marriages” develops to describe two women living together, independent of financial support from a man.

1890 – Birth of Alan Hart, who pioneered the use of the X-Ray for tuberculosis diagnosis and one of the first transgender men in history.

1907 – Gertrude Stein meets Alice B. Toklas, sparking a legendary romance. In Paris, the two women set up a salon for writers and artists, including gays. Stein publicly declares her love for Toklas in print in The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, published in 1933.

1917-1935 – The Harlem Renaissance. Many historians say the renaissance was “as gay as it was Black.” Lesbian, gay or bisexual people in this movement includes writers and poets such as Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston; and entertainers Ma Rainey, Bessie Smith, Ethel Waters and Gladys Bentley.

1924 – The Society for Human Rights, the first gay rights organization, was founded in Chicago by Henry Gerber, a German immigrant. The organization ceased to exist after most of its members were arrested.

1950 – The Mattachine Society formed in Los Angeles, California by activist Harry Hay and is one of the first sustained gay rights groups in the U.S. It continues to this day. 

1952 – Christine Jorgensen became one of the most famous transgender people when she underwent a sex change operation and went on to a successful career in show business.

1966 – Compton’s Cafeteria Riot, San Francisco. Transgender and drag queens in San Francisco react to ongoing police harassment. One result: the National Transsexual Counseling Unit in support of transgender people.

1967 – The Oscar Wilde Memorial Bookshop is opened in New York City by Craig Rodwell. The bookshop — devoted to gay history and gay rights — is believed to be the first of its kind in the U.S. 

1969 – The Stonewall Riots, New York City. The Stonewall Inn was a gay bar in Greenwich Village in New York City. In response to an unprovoked police raid on an early Saturday morning in June, over 400 lesbian, bisexual, transgender and heterosexual people protested for days.  

1970 – A gay Hispanic group, Unidos, meets for the first time. 

1972 – “Coming Out!” a play 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.

1973 – American Psychiatric Association removes homosexuality as a mental illness. 

1977 – Harvey Milk is elected county supervisor in San Francisco and becomes the third “out” elected public official in the U.S. and the first in California.

1978 – In San Francisco, the Rainbow Flag is first flown during the Gay Freedom Parade, June 25.

1978 – Harvey Milk is assassinated Nov. 27 at San Francisco City Hall by former county supervisor Dan White. Also killed in the incident was the city’s mayor, George Moscone. White was later convicted of voluntary manslaughter, a verdict that sparked the “White Night Riots.”  

1979 – Chapters of the national organization of Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) are founded across the United States.

1980 - The American Psychiatric Association adds Gender Identity Disorder as a mental illness. This categorization refers to depression, anxiety and other issues related to orientation.

1982 – Wisconsin becomes the first state to outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation. 

1988 – The first national Coming Out Day is celebrated Oct. 11.

1991- Microsoft recognizes the first gay employees group in the U.S.

 1995 – Executive Order signed by President Clinton establishes uniform policies for allowing employees of the federal government access to classified information, stating the government “does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, or sexual orientation in granting access to classified information."

1996 - The Defense of Marriage Act is signed into law defining marriage for federal purposes as the union of one man and one woman, and allows states to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages granted under the laws of other states. In 2013, the act's provisions were ruled unconstitutional or left effectively unenforceable by Supreme Court decisions. 

1998 – Matthew Sheppard, a gay student at the University of Wyoming, is beaten, tortured, and left to die near Laramie on the night of Oct.6,1998. One month later the Matthew Shepherd Bill added crimes related to a victim's sexual identity to the existing definition of hate crimes. 

2003 – Coretta Scott King calls on civil rights advocates to include gay rights in their efforts. Some criticized her for this position. 

2015 – Obergefell v. Hodges, Supreme Court Decision. The Court votes 5-4 that the fundamental right to marry is guaranteed to same-sex couples nationwide. 

2016 – Aug. 16, the U.S. Navy ship Harvey Milk is dedicated, the first named for an openly gay leader. Milk had served in the U.S. Navy during the Korean War aboard the submarine rescue ship USS Kittiwake (ASR-13) and held the rank of lieutenant (junior grade) at the time of his honorable discharge.

– Record-Journal staff 


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