Although homophobia and heterosexism is persistent, pervasive and not going anywhere anytime soon, strides in gay and lesbian rights are being made (not so much for trans-rights). Here is a look at some gains over the years, although certainly not all of them. Since oppositional forces to sometimes help spur positive change, I've noted some of the more infamous events. My source is Rachel Kranz and Tim Cusick's Library in a Book: Gay Rights (2000). Almost all wording is directly quoted or paraphrased. Bracketed text is my own words.
1924: The first US gay rights group, the Society for Human Rights is founded in Chicago, but soon disbanded when the wife of a member reports the group to police.
1948: Kinsey puts out that famous 10% number in Sexual Behavior in the Human Male.
1950-1954: The McCarthy witchunts to ferret out homosexuals in the government, military and other areas. Thousands of men and women lose their jobs.
1951: The Mattachine Society is founded in Los Angeles.
1955: The first US lesbian organization, Daughters of Bilitis (DOB) is founded in San Francisco by Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon. In 2004, Del and Phyllis become the first same-sex couple to have their marriage recognized by a government entity.
1961: Illinois becomes the first state to decriminlaize private homosexual acts between consenting adults.
1964: The Socity for Individual Rights (SIR) is founded in San Francisco.
1965: The first gay rights protest in US history occurs when seven gay men and three lesbians picket the White House. It goes largely unnoticed due to the 20,000 anti-war protestors gathered that same day at the Washington Monument.
1968: The Metropolitan Community Church is founded by Rev. Troy Perry.
1969: June 27th: Judy Garland's funeral coincides with the riots at the Stonewall Inn. The gay civil rights movement begins in full force.
1970: The Lutheran Church opposes state sodomy laws and supports anti-discrimination legislation for gay men and lesbians.
June 28th: The Christopher Street Liberation Day march commemorates the Stonewall riots.
1971: NOW adopts a policy making the oppression of lesbians "a legitimate concern for feminism."
Idaho repeals then reinstates sodomy laws, making homosexual acts a felony.
1972: East Lansing, Michigan adpots the first ordinance outlwaing discrimination against gay men and lesbians.
1973: The American Psychiatric Association removes homosexuality from its list of mental disorders.
Lambda Legal is founded in New York City.
Rubyfruit Jungle is published.
1974: Bella Abzug introduces the first federal Gay and Lesbian Civil Rights Bill.
Combahee River Collective holds its first meeting in Roxbury, Massachusetts.
1976: The US Supreme Court upholds the sodomy laws of the State of Virigina.
1977: Dade County, Florida passes an ordinace forbidding discrimination based on sexual identity. Anita Bryant, former beauty queen and orange juice spokesperson, launches a campaign that results in the repeal of the ordinance. The anti-gay rights movement begins in full force. [I remind readers here of Ms. Bryant's eminent qualifications.]
Harvey Milk wins a seat on the San Francisco board of supervisors, becoming the first openly gay person to be elected to the government of a large US city.
1978: The Briggs Initiative, which would have allowed gay and lesbian teachers or any teacher who referred positively to homosexuals to be fired, is defeated.
San Francisco has the largest Gay Pride parade in history - 250,000 to 300,000 marchers, parttly in response to the Briggs Initiative.
Harvey Milk is killed by Dan White.
1979: The Moral Majority is founded by Jerry Falwell.
Stephen M. Lachs becomes the nations's first openly gay judge in California.
Dan White is convicted of manslaughter, enraging San Francisco's gay population and the White Night riots erupt. Dan White will be released form jail in 1985 and commit suicide.
The first national gay and lesbian civil rights march on Washington draws more than 100,000 participants.
1980: The Human Rights Campaign is founded. [For all the good the classist lapdogs do now.]
1981: The CDC reports a new disease it calls GRIDS (gay-related immune deficiency), that later becomes known as AIDS. [Many papers report about the "gay cancer" spreading.]
Larry Kramer and other activists form the Gay Men's Health Crisis, the first group to respond to AIDS.
The "Family Protection Act" is introduced, which would deny Social Security, welfare, and veterans' benefits to gay people or those who propose that homosexuality is acceptable.
1982: Wisconsin has the first statewide gay and lesbian civil rights bill go into effect.
Philidelphia establishes the first high school for gays and lesbians. In 1985, New York City establishes the Harvey Milk School for gays and lesbians.
1984: The virus causing AIDS is discovered by scientists at the Pasteur Institute in France.
Berkeley, California becomes the first city to extend domestic partnership benefits to gay and lesbian employees.
Wigstock holds its first festival.
1985: New York City passes a gay rights bill fourteen years after its introduction.
1986: The Supreme Court upholds the right of states to make laws prohibiting sodomy and other private sexual acts between consenting adults in Bowers v. Hardwick.
1987: Barney Frank becomes the first congressman to voluntarily announce he is gay.
ACT UP shuts down Wall Street, protesting the cost of AIDS drugs. ACT UP introduces a more militant approach to AIDS and gay rights activism.
Almost 650,000 lesbians and gay men participate in the 2nd March on Washington, which has the first display of the Names Project quilt.
1988: The District of Columbia passes a gay rights ordinance, but Congress votes to deny funding to the district unless the ordinance is revoked.
1989: [In Cincinnati, the city art museum is indicted and prosecuted for violating obscenity laws in its Robert Mapplethorpe exhibit which features photograph potraits of men in sadomasochistic and homoerotic poses and activities and some nude photos of children. In 1990, the museum director and staff will be found not to have violated obscenity laws by a jury, but this incident allows Jesse Helms to spearhead an attack on the NEA, which has chilling effects on arts funding.]
A New York Court of Appeals rules that a gay male couple can be considered a "family" where housing rules are concerned, allowing a surviving spouse to continue to enjoy his partner's lease.
The San Francisco City College establishes the first university department of lesbian and gay studies in the US.
Part II: 1990-2000 coming soon!