LGBTQ+ History Month: A Little History for a Long Journey

LGBTQ+ History Month: A Little History for a Long Journey

October is LGBTQ+ history month, a time of celebration and reflection. It’s a time to look back on how far we’ve come, learn from the past, and show gratitude for those who fought before us.

It all started in 1994, when high school teacher Rodney Wilson suggested dedicating an entire month to LGBT history. The idea quickly gained momentum, and Wilson and his supporters chose the month of October. It would eventually be endorsed by groups like GLAAD, the Human Rights Campaign and the National Education Association.

Man making a heart with his hand in front of a pride flag

National Coming Out Day

National Coming Out Day also occurs this month (October 11th). In 1988, a pair of activists established National Coming Out Day to encourage “coming out of the closet.” By being supportive and helping others come out, they hoped to normalize the community and erase others’ fears and stereotypes. Today, it’s also a time to raise awareness of issues surrounding sexual orientation and gender identity.

The Stonewall Riots

Storefront sign reading Love and Resistance

In the 1960s, the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village, New York, was an unspoken safe haven for the LGBT community. “Homosexual acts” were illegal at the time, and businesses could be shut down for even serving gay patrons.

In late June 1969, police were regularly targeting Stonewall, raiding the establishment and making arrests. In the early hours of June 28th, 1969, the dam broke. A person believed to be a transgender woman of color threw an object at police, igniting a riot. Police barricaded themselves inside the Inn. Riots continued throughout the weekend.

The events at Stonewall were a powerful declaration that the LGBTQ community would no longer tolerate the abuse and discrimination. Afterwards, activists flocked to Stonewall and began building the foundation of the gay rights movement. This changed the course of LGBT American history.

Two men sitting on the edge of a lake with a pride flag draped over their shoulders

Major Civil Rights Milestones

The following are just a few key moments in the history of LGBT rights:

  • 1961 – Illinois becomes the first state to repeal sodomy laws and decriminalize homosexuality.
  • 1969 – The Stonewall Riots ignite the organized movement for LGBTQ+ rights.
  • 1970 – LGBT New Yorkers host a pride march through the streets to celebrate the anniversary of Stonewall. “Christopher Street Liberation Day” is essentially the first pride parade.

Several pride flags at a pride parade

  • 1973 – the American Psychiatric Association removes homosexuality from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
  • 1978 – Harvey Milk becomes the first openly gay man elected to public office in California. Tragically, he and Mayor George Moscone would be murdered by a former city board member later that year.
  • 1979 – The first National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights occurs.
  • 1982 – Wisconsin is the first state to forbid discrimination based on sexual orientation.
  • 1995 – The Hate Crimes Sentencing Act allows judges to impose harsher sentences for crimes motivated by hate, including those against LGBTQIA individuals.
  • 2003 – The Supreme Court decriminalizes same-sex sexual acts (Lawrence v. Texas).
  • 2004 – The first legal same-sex marriage in the U.S. occurs in Massachusetts.
  • 2011 – The “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy comes to an end, allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military.
  • 2013 – The Supreme Court rules that married same-sex couples are entitled to federal benefits (United States v. Windsor).
  • 2015 – Same-sex marriage is made legal throughout the U.S. by federal law.
  • 2016 – The Pentagon lifts the ban on transgender people serving in the military (though a new ban would be enacted in 2019 under President Trump).
  • 2020 – The Supreme Court rules that LGBTQ+ employees are protected from workplace discrimination under federal law.
Man kissing man holding a pride flag

Celebrate LGBTQ+ History with Us

At Matador Meggings, we have close ties to the LGBTQ+ community. Whether you’re a member or an ally, we welcome you to join us in celebration. Our “Bulls of Matador Meggings” community is a supportive, welcoming brotherhood (though you might want to pick up some of our men’s athletic leggings if you really want to impress).