- On this day 50 years ago, LGBTQ activists and allies in New York City marched from Greenwich Village to Central Park to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the Stonewall uprising.
- The event became known as the first gay-pride march or parade.
- From the first gay-pride march in 1970 to the US Supreme Court’s ruling protecting LGBTQ people against workplace discrimination earlier this month, here are 25 monumental moments in the fight for equal rights for people of all genders and sexual orientations.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Joe Negrelli, a lifelong New Yorker, was at the Stonewall Inn the hot and humid June night 51 years ago when LGBTQ patrons rioted against a police raid, launching the modern gay rights movement.
A year later, he marched with hundreds of others from Greenwich Village to Central park to commemorate the uprising. That event marked the world’s first Pride parade, which turns 50 today.
“There’s a tremendous lack of understanding of how far the LGBTQ movement has come,” Negrelli, who was 18 back then and is now 68, told Business Insider.
Since then, Negrelli has kept careful tabs on all the milestones America’s queer community has reached, both the good and the bad.
“If you had told me decades ago that the gay liberation movement would get to this point, where we’d go from being arrested, evicted, fired from our jobs for being gay to now the Supreme Court ruling we can’t be discriminated against at work, I wouldn’t believe you! I can’t believe it’s happened during my lifetime,” said Negrelli, who is a member of the SAGE USA, an advocacy group for LGBTQ elders.
This year, Pride parades across the country, including New York City’s, have been cancelled due to the coronavirus. But that doesn’t mean people aren’t celebrating: Many are tuning into online events, like yesterday’s virtual Global Pride on June 27.
Read below for a visual tour of the setbacks and victories America’s LGBTQ community has seen in the years since the very first march, and click here to read more about Negrelli’s experiences as a gay man before the Stonewall riots.
June 28, 1969: Patrons of the Stonewall Inn on Christopher Street in New York City resisted arrest. Word spread quickly through the area, and more people joined to protest.
According to Negrelli, the uprising began when a police officer flung slurs against someone who identified as transgender. The officer pulled off her wig, and the patron punched him.
Trans-rights advocates and self-identified drag queen Marsha P. Johnson was at the Inn the night of the riot. Along with friend and drag queen Sylvia Rivera, she would create the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR), a group dedicated to helping homeless young drag queens and LGBTQ youth.
June 28, 1970: On the one-year anniversary of the Stonewall uprising, thousands of members of the LGBTQ movement marched through New York from Christopher Street into Central Park on what would become America’s first gay-pride parade.
Though other commemorations were held around the country, New York’s is widely credited as the first Gay Pride march.
“We have to come out into the open and stop being ashamed, or else people will go on treating us as freaks,” one member of the group the Gay Liberation Front told the New York Times.
December 15, 1973: The board of the American Psychiatric Association voted to remove homosexuality from its list of mental illnesses. The move helped shift public opinion of the LGBTQ community.
Human Rights Campaign
July 8, 1980: The Democratic party became the first major political party to endorse an LGBTQ platform at the Democratic National Convention.
March 2, 1982: Wisconsin became the first US state to outlaw discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation for both government and private-sector employees.
However, it wouldn’t be until 2020 that such a law would be enacted on the federal level.
October 11, 1987: Hundreds of thousands of activists gathered for the National March on Washington, demanding that President Ronald Reagan address the AIDS crisis, the first case of which was reported in 1981.
That year’s National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights became known as “The Great March” for its large turnout, which activists estimated to be more than 500,000 people.
The goal was to get more federal funding to address the AIDS epidemic, which at its height in the mid-1980s killed 150,000 per year, most of them LGBTQ people. The federal government began funding more national, regional, and community-based programs a year after the march.
August 18, 1990: The Ryan White Care Act was passed, which created the federal government’s largest program providing services for people living with HIV/AIDS.
The legislation was named after Ryan White, an Indiana teenager who contracted AIDS in 1984 through a tainted hemophilia treatment. After being banned from school due to his HIV-positive status, White became a well-known activist for HIV/AIDS research and anti-discrimination laws. He died in 1990.
More than half of people living with diagnosed HIV in the US receive services through the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program each year. That means more than half a million people have received services through the program, according to government data.
December 21, 1993: The Department of Defence issued the policy that became known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
The policy directed that military personnel “don’t ask” if someone is gay, but also that members of the armed forces “don’t tell” that they’re gay either.
It theoretically lifted a ban on gays serving in the military that had been instituted during World War II, though in reality, it forced members of the armed forces to stay closeted. Over 13,000 people were expelled, many without honorable discharge.
September 21, 1996: President Bill Clinton signed the Defence of Marriage Act (DOMA) into law. It defined marriage as a legal union between a man and a woman.
DOMA gained traction from supporters who feared that same-sex marriage would soon be legal in Hawaii. The state’s Supreme Court had recently declared in Baehr v. Miike that denying same-sex partners a marriage contract was a violation of Hawaii’s constitution.
In 2013, DOMA’s definition of marriage as a legal union between one man and one woman was struck down by the Supreme Court in the case US v. Windsor.
April 30, 1997: Ellen DeGeneres comes out as gay on air in the sitcom “Ellen.” The widely watched episode sparked a national conversation around gay rights.
In response to the episode, several companies pulled advertisements from ABC. Co-star Laura Dern, who played DeGeneres’s love interest on the show, said that after the episode, she did not receive a call for work for over a year.
March 25, 1998: The Trevor Project is founded.
The Trevor Project was founded by the creators of the Oscar-winning short film “Trevor,” which follows a boy’s attempted suicide after being outed at school.
The nonprofit focuses on suicide prevention efforts among lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning youth. It runs a 24/7 suicide-prevention hotline at 1-866-488-7386. Other resources include text and online-chat hotlines.
Source: The Trevor Project
April 26, 2000: Vermont became the first state in the US to legalise civil unions and registered partnerships between same-sex couples.
A civil union is different from marriage in that it is only recognised at the state level. It also doesn’t provide all of the rights that marriage does. For example, federal protections such as certain tax breaks and social security benefits are unavailable to those who are in a civil union.
June 26, 2003: In Lawrence v. Texas, the Supreme Court ruled that laws banning gay sex in the US were illegal.
May 18, 2004: Massachusetts became the first state to legalise gay marriage.
The state’s Supreme Court found the prohibition of gay marriage unconstitutional because it denies the dignity and equality of all individuals.
November 4, 2008: California voters approved Proposition 8, making same-sex marriage in California illegal. In response, gay-rights supporters across the US participated in the NOH8 campaign, a photo project that used celebrities to promote marriage equality.
June 17, 2009: President Barack Obama signed a presidential memorandum allowing same-sex partners of federal employees to receive certain benefits.
A presidential memorandum is a type of directive issued by the president that dictates certain actions and policies of the various departments and agencies reporting to that office.
Obama’s June 2009 memorandum gave same-sex partners of civil-service employees the right to be added to an employee’s long-term healthcare. It also allowed employees to use their sick leave to care for their partner.
October 28, 2009: Congress passed the Matthew Shepard Act, which President Obama signed into law.
Matthew Shepard, a 21-year-old student at the University of Wyoming, was beaten, tortured, and left to die near Laramie on the night of October 6, 1998, because of his sexual orientation. Graphic media accounts of his death caused a national outcry. Candlelight vigils were held around the world, and requests for new legislation to address hate crimes based on sexual orientation gained momentum.
The measure named after him expanded the 1969 U.S. Federal Hate Crime Law to include crimes motivated by a victim’s actual or perceived gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability.
December 18, 2010: The Senate voted 65-31 to repeal the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.
As a result, LGBTQ people could now serve openly in the US Military.
September 22, 2010: 18-year-old Tyler Clementi died by suicide after his college roommate secretly recorded him kissing another man. The death sparked a national conversation on cyberbullying and suicide risks among LGBTQ youth.
In 2011, his parents Jane and Joseph Clementi created the Tyler Clementi Foundation, which champions acceptance of LGBTQ teens and advocates against all forms of bullying.
Today, suicide is the third leading cause of death among those ages 15 to 24, and LGBTQ youth are more likely to attempt suicide than their peers.
Editor’s note: If you’re struggling with suicidal thoughts, call the SAMHSA National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP(4357) anytime for free, confidential help, or reach out to the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741. LGBTQ youth struggling with depression or suicidal thoughts can also call 1-866-488-7386 anytime.
June 26, 2015: With a 5-4 decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, the Supreme Court declared same-sex marriage legal in all 50 states.
June 16, 2017: Oregon became the first state to add a third sex to drivers’ licenses. Residents there can choose “male,” “female,” and “X” for nonbinary, intersex, or unspecified.
Source: Business Insider
September 17, 2019: Merriam-Webster added the nonbinary “they” as a singular pronoun to the dictionary.
Merriam-Webster, America’s oldest dictionary, announced that the definition of “they” included its usage as a singular pronoun for gender-nonbinary people. The singular “they” has become an increasingly common option for people who don’t identify as either male or female and want to avoid “he” and “she.”
June 12, 2020: The administration of President Donald Trump erased transgender civil rights protections in healthcare.
Part of the Obama-era Affordable Care Act established that it is illegal to discriminate on the basis of “race, colour, national origin, sex, age or disability in certain health programs and activities.”
In 2016, the Obama administration explained that protections regarding “sex” included gender identity. Trump’s recent ruling reverses this, effectively no longer protecting transgender people from discrimination in the healthcare system.
June 15, 2020: The US Supreme Court ruled to protect LGBT people against workplace discrimination.
In a 6-3 decision, conservative justices John Roberts and Neil Gorsuch sided with the court’s four liberal members. The justices ruled that Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act applies to LGBTQ individuals, delivering a blow to the Trump administration, which argued it did not encompass such protections.
Title VII protects employees from facing discrimination from their employer on the basis of their race, colour, religion, sex, and national origin. Put simply, the decision empowers LGBTQ employees to not tolerate workplace discrimination.
2020: The place where the modern LGBTQ movement began, the Stonewall Inn, announced it may be forced to close its doors forever.
The coronavirus pandemic has caused sales to drop dramatically for many businesses, as people self-isolate.
An online fundraiser was launched on June 13 to support the iconic institution.
“The Stonewall Inn faces an uncertain future and we are in need of community support,” the GoFundMe says.
The fund has surpassed its $US100,000 goal, with people raising over $US137,000.