LGBT+ History Timeline
|1844 – 1929||
Edward Carpenter: philosopher, activist, socialist and poet. His relationship with George Merrill, who had been born in the slums in Sheffield, crossed social and economic class boundaries and endured for more than 40 years. Their life together was the template for the protagonist’s relationship in E M Forster’s posthumous novel, Maurice.
|1880 – 1943||
Marguerite Radclyffe Hall, poet and novelist. Best known for The Well of Loneliness, which was the subject of an obscenity trial resulting in an order that all copies should be destroyed. 90 years on the novel is available in paperback.
Oscar Wilde sentenced to two years imprisonment with hard labour. He is convicted of the crime of “gross indecency with men”.
Emma Goldman first begins speaking publicly in favour of homosexual rights. Magnus Hirschfeld later wrote “she was the first and only woman, indeed the first and only American, to take up the defence of homosexual love before the general public.”
|1912 – 1954||
Alan Turing, mathematician and computer scientist, generally understood to be the father of the modern computer and whose work on cryptography has been estimated to have shortened World War 2 by two years and to have saved 14 million lives. He was arrested for having sex with a man, chemically castrated while in prison and committed suicide.
The Society for Human Rights, the first homosexual rights organisation in America is founded in Chicago. The group exists for a few months before disbanding under police pressure.
Mona’s 440 Club, the first lesbian bar in America, opened in San Francisco in 1936. Mona’s waitresses and female performers wore tuxedos and patrons dressed in their chosen gender roles.
The first use of the pink triangle for gay men in Nazi concentration camps.
|1942||Switzerland decriminalises homosexuality, with the age of consent set at 20.|
|1944||Sweden decriminalises homosexuality, with the age of consent set at 20 and Suriname legalises homosexuality.|
Vice Versa, the first North American lesbian publication, is written and self-published by Lisa Ben (real name Edith Eyde) in Los Angeles.
US Department of Investigations concludes that “sex perverts (homosexuals) in any government agency pose a security risk”.
The Diana Foundation a non-profit organisation and recognised as the oldest continuously active gay organisation in the United States was founded on 19 March 1953 in Houston.
Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon, a lesbian couple, form the nucleus of Daughters of Bilitis, a lesbian social group; in October 1956 the group publishes the first edition of The Ladder, the first lesbian newspaper in the US.
|1957||The word “Transsexual” is coined by US physician Harry Benjamin.
The Crittenden Report commissioned by the US Navy Board of Inquiry, concludes that homosexuals pose no security risks. The report is suppressed until 1972.
The Wolfenden Committee’s report recommends decriminalising consensual homosexual behaviour between adults in the UK. The report is rejected.
ITV, at the time the UK’s only national commercial broadcaster, broadcasts the first gay drama, South, starring Peter Wyngarde.
Homoerotic artist Tom of Finland first published on the cover of Physique Pictorial magazine from Los Angeles.
Fannie Mae Clackum and Grace Garner, US Air Force reservists in the late 1940s and early 1950s, became the first people to successfully challenge their discharges from the US military for being gay.
At the March on Washington for (African American) jobs and freedom, James Baldwin, by now one of America’s most celebrated black writers, scheduled to appear at the end of the march to address the crowds, is dis-invited; the organisers had grown uneasy about Baldwin’s homosexuality.
Conservatively dressed gays and lesbians demonstrate outside Independence Hall in Philadelphia on 4 July 1965.
The Black Cat Tavern, a lesbian bar in the Silver Lake neighbourhood of Los Angeles, is raided on New Year’s Day by 12 plainclothes police officers who beat and arrest employees and patrons.
The Advocate was first published in September as “The Los Angeles Advocate”, a local newsletter alerting gay men to police raids in Los Angeles gay bars.
The Sexual Offences Act 1967 decriminalised homosexual acts between two men over 21 years of age in private in England and Wales.
The Stonewall riots occur in New York City.
The first Gay Liberation Day March is held in New York City.
First Gay Pride March for Equality takes place in the UK.
First UK gay newspaper, Gay News, is founded.
|1973||The American Psychiatric Association removes homosexuality from its handbook of disorders.|
|1975||Homosexuality is legalised in California.|
Harvey Milk, a gay man, is elected city-county supervisor in San Francisco.
Former Supervisor Dan White assassinates San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk and Mayor George Moscone.
|1979||First March on Washington DC for Lesbian and Gay Rights.
The rainbow flag (originally devised by San Francisco artist Gilbert Baker) is first used as a symbol of homosexual pride.
|1980||The United States Democratic Party becomes the first major political party in the US to endorse a homosexual rights platform.
Scotland decriminalises homosexuality.
April 24, San Francisco resident Ken Horne is reported to the Center for Disease Control with Kaposi’s Sarcoma. Later in 1981, the CDC would retroactively identify him as the first patient of the AIDS epidemic in the US.
The European Court of Human Rights in Dudgeon v UK strikes down Northern Ireland’s criminalisation of homosexual acts between consenting adults.
On 12 December a 49 year old man dies in Brompton hospital due to an AIDS related illness – the first death in the UK.
Terry Higgins dies of an AIDS related illness – leading to the establishment of the Terrence Higgins Trust.
Massachusetts Representative Gerry Studds reveals he is gay on the floor of the House, becoming the first openly gay member of the US Congress.
|1984||West Hollywood, California is founded and becomes the first known city to elect a city council of which a majority of the members are openly gay or lesbian.|
Actor Rock Hudson dies of AIDS.
|1986||The first antiretroviral drug, AZT, is approved in the US.|
Princess Diana opens a new ward at Middlesex Hospital for the treatment of HIV patients, shaking the hands of patients without wearing gloves.
Second March on Washington DC for Lesbian and Gay Rights.
AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT-UP) founded in the US in response to the US government’s slow response in dealing with the AIDS crisis.
Margaret Thatcher introduces Section 28 of the Local Government Act. It states that “a local authority shall not intentionally promote homosexuality” or “promote teaching in any maintained school of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship”.
Stonewall UK is formed.
Singer Freddie Mercury (Farrokh Bulsara) dies from AIDS.
Same-sex attraction is no longer classed as a mental illness by the World Health Organisation.
“Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy was enacted in the US military.
Third March on Washington DC for Lesbian, Gay and Bi Equal Rights.
Rachel Maddow became the first openly gay or lesbian American to win an international Rhodes scholarship.
President Bill Clinton signs the Defense of Marriage Act, which defined marriage for federal purposes as the union of one man and one woman, and allowed states to refuse to recognise same-sex marriages.
|2000||Lesbians, gay men and bisexuals can openly serve in the UK armed forces for the first time.
The age of consent for all sexual relationships is equalised.
|2003||Section 28 is repealed in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.|
UK enacts the Civil Partnership Act allowing same-sex couples to obtain essentially the same rights and responsibilities as civil marriage.
Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon became the first same-sex couple to be legally married in the US, when San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom allowed city hall to grant marriage licences to same-sex couples.
Same-sex couple adoption legalised in England and Wales.
President George W Bush issues an executive order allowing HIV positive people to enter the US on standard visas.
In Hawaii, Kim Coco Iwamato became the first transgender official to win statewide in America.
|2008||California Supreme Court decision grants same-sex couples in California the right to marry.
Despite the California Supreme Court Decision the people of California vote in a law, Prop 8, to ban same-sex marriage.
Carol Ann Duffy was chosen as the first openly lesbian or gay Poet Laureate of the UK.
As of this year over 19,000 people have died of HIV/AIDS in the UK since the beginning of the HIV epidemic.
|2010||In the UK The Equality Act 2010 qualifies anyone with HIV as disabled and so gives protection against discrimination.|
Tammy Baldwin is elected as the first openly lesbian or gay US Senator.
Legislation to allow same-sex marriage in England and Wales came into force on 13 March 2014, and the first same-sex marriages took place on 29 March.
A plaque was unveiled at Church House on 7 October 2014 to mark the 50th anniversary of a meeting held in the offices of the Diocese of Manchester which began the modern equality movement for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
|2015||Same-sex marriage is established in all 50 states as a result of a landmark civil rights ruling by the Supreme Court of the US.
Stonewall begins campaigning for Trans-Equality.
|2016||As of this year about 675,000 people have died of HIV/AIDS in the US since the beginning of the HIV epidemic.|
|2017||NHS announces trial PrEP (already freely available in the US) for 10,000 people over three years.|
In March 2018, Attitude magazine featured “The Body Issue” with an article celebrating the male body at different stages of the ageing process. Stuart from Out In The City went down to London for a photoshoot representing men in their 70’s. This is what he had to say:
“I’m from Bury. I migrated to Manchester about a decade ago. I became interested in boys when I was about 10 years old, but I didn’t realise it was about being homosexual until I was 14 – when homosexuality was still illegal. I had a friend who was gay, who worked at the same place as me. We had a platonic relationship and would go on holiday and out to places together. As far as sex is concerned, it was all cottaging.
I lost touch with him and I was more or less stuck on my own. I just carried on with life by myself. The place I live in now is managed by Anchor, which is the only housing association in the country that has an LGBT+ group. One day, they were doing a film about Anchor and the scheme manager asked me to be in it. The producer of the film mentioned another LGBT+ group, Out in the City, in Manchester, which I’ve been going to for about six years. We have an informal meeting every Wednesday and we have organised days out on Thursdays. The groups have given me a sense of community.
The person who organises Out in the City asked if one of us would like to do a photoshoot. There was no mention of what sort of a shoot it was to be. I’m the only man in his seventies in the group, so I was the only one who qualified! I said I’d do it. When I was told it would be “tastefully nude” I didn’t have any apprehensions. I don’t have anything to excite anybody! I felt comfortable stripping off and it didn’t bother me. I thought of it as a laugh.
It’s more the youthful who think about their body image. I don’t reckon older men think about it. You have the body that you’re stuck with. You start to develop aches and pains and I walk with a stick now.
I suppose what I love most about my body is keeping my hair.
When I told my boyfriend, Norman, about the shoot he said, “Oh, I wish I was going with you.”
I met him at the group two years ago. He’s 61 and comes out with the daftest expressions which make me laugh so much. I didn’t think I’d meet anyone again. It just goes to show that somebody turns up when you’re not looking.”