From Stonewall to today: 50+ years of modern LGBTQ+ history
In the early hours of June 28, 1969, the New York Police Department unwittingly helped start the modern LGBTQ+ rights movement. At the time, clubs with gay or lesbian patrons weren’t allowed to serve alcohol, but the Stonewall Inn still served booze to their customers, which gave police cause to raid the bar. The clientele pushed back, and 13 people were arrested. LGBTQ+ people and allies protested for days. Among the crowd was transgender activist Marsha P. Johnson, who later founded Street Transgender Action Revolutionaries (STAR), an organization that provided resources for transgender youth.
After the events at Stonewall—which the NYPD eventually apologized for in 2019—more and more people pushed for LGBTQ+ equality. Activists organized the first LGBTQ+ marches in the United States and around the world, giving rise to annual pride parades. In 1973, the American Psychological Association no longer considered being gay or lesbian a mental illness, and the first openly lesbian politicians were elected in the following year. Currently, openly gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer candidates occupy political office, including in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate. Abroad, Iceland and Ireland both have openly gay prime ministers.
There is still more to be done yet, but since then, the government has passed laws banning discrimination based on sexual orientation and the Supreme Court has legalized same-sex marriage. More than two dozen countries have passed legislation giving marriage rights to everyone.
In the military, it took decades for gay, lesbian, and bisexual service members to win the right to enlist. And it wasn’t until 2011 that LGBTQ+ troops could openly serve in the United States armed forces. While the Obama administration repealed the ban on transgender troops in 2016, former President Donald Trump effectively reinstated the ban in 2019.
To find out more about LGBTQ+ history, Stacker combed through news reports and used data from the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network (GLSEN) to compile over 50 years of LGBTQ+ progress. Read on to see the evolution of this movement, from then to now.
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