Whether it was civil rights or gay rights, the struggle for equality has been an on-going battle. While the call to action generally happens on the grassroots level with the people, it’s on Capitol Hill where the real changes happen. As BlackEnterprise.com’s coverage of the Black LGBT community, we look back at the some major historical points of the LGBT rights movements with an intensive timeline that follows the ups, downs and milestones under various presidential administrations. —Kahliah Laney
ABRAHAM LINCOLN, 16TH US PRESIDENT (1861 – 1865)
1864 The publication of 12 volumes of essays on same-sex relationships by Karl Heinrich Ulrichs is considered the birth of the early gay rights movement.
ANDREW JOHNSON, 17TH US PRESIDENT (1865-1869)
1868 Terms “heterosexuality” and “homosexuality” are coined by Karl Maria Kertbeny in correspondence to Ulrichs.
THEODORE “TEDDY” ROOSEVELT, 26TH US PRESIDENT (1901-1909)
1908 Under the name, Xavier Mayne, Edward Irenaeus Prime-Stevenson—also considered the first modern American-gay author—publishes The Intersexes, a defense of homosexuality.
CALVIN COOLIDGE, 30TH US PRESIDENT (1923-1929)
1924 Postal clerk Henry Gerber establishes the first gay rights organization in Chicago.
HARRY S. TRUMAN, 33RD US PRESIDENT (1945-1953)
1947 First lesbian publication in the U.S. is published Vice Versa: America’s Gayest Magazine by Lisa Ben in Los Angeles.
1948 Dr. Alfred C. Kinsey releases his controversial study Sexual Behavior in the Human Male, most commonly known as the Kinsey Report in which he studied—among other things, the homosexual experience among men. He brought homosexuality into mainstream discussion and helped shape changing attitudes about homosexuality.
1949 The term “transexual” is coined by D.O. Cauldwell.
1951 The Mattachine Society, a homophile organization, is founded by Harry Hay in Los Angeles, CA.
DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER, 34TH US PRESIDENT (1953-1961)
1953 Don Slater launches ONE Magazine, the first pro-gay publication in the U.S.
1958 The U.S. Supreme Court rules that seizing ONE Magazine is unconstitutional and a violation of freedom of the press.
JOHN F. KENNEDY, 35TH US PRESIDENT (1961-1963)
1962 Illinois is the first state to drop sodomy laws.
1962 The D.C. chapter of ACLU gets the national chapter to change the policy which said there was no constitutional right to practice homosexual acts to a private act between consenting adults that should not be criminalized.
1963 Black and gay civil rights activist Bayard Rustin organizes the historic March on Washington, where Martin Luther King Jr. makes the famous “I have a dream” speech.
LYNDON B. JOHNSON, 36TH US PRESIDENT (1963-1969)
1968 Rev. Troy Perry founds the Metropolitan Community Church in Los Angeles, the first church founded specifically for homosexual members.
RICHARD NIXON, 37TH US PRESIDENT (1969-1974)
1969 The Stonewall Riots, often credited as the start of the modern day gay rights movement, began in Greenwich Village, NY, following a series of police raids at the Stonewall Inn.
1970 First Gay Pride Parades/Marches held to mark anniversary of Stonewall Riots.
1971 U.S. citizenship is won by the first openly homosexual Manuel Labady, an immigrant from Cuba.
1972 Barbara Gittings founder of the Daughters of Bilitis was instrumental in getting the American Psychiatric Association to remove homosexuality from the list of mental disorders
1974 Kathy Kozachenko becomes the first openly gay person to be elected in the U.S., serving as a City Councilwoman in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
1974 AT&T announces a policy of non-discrimination against gays
GERALD R. FORD, 38TH US PRESIDENT (1974-1977)
1975 Leonard Matlovich comes out as the first openly gay man in the military—he was buried at Arlington after he dies.
RONALD REAGAN, 40TH US PRESIDENT (1981-1989)
1981 An unknown but deadly virus—later recognized as AIDS—begins to spread through the gay community.
1982 Wisconsin is the first state to pass a gay and lesbian civil rights bill.
1988 First National Coming Out Day takes place—later becomes National Coming Out Week.
GEORGE H.W. BUSH, 41ST US PRESIDENT (1989-1993)
1990 Hate Crimes Act is passed and provides punishment from crimes motivated by a victim’s sexual orientation among other things.
1990 Federal Immigration and Health Officials try to ban international gays from coming into San Francisco for the 6th Annual Aids Conference. Immigration and National Services and Department of Health and Human Service join forces on this issue.
1992 The Democratic Party Convention endorses gay and lesbian rights.
BILL CLINTON, 42ND US PRESIDENT (1993-2001)
1993 The President’s attempt at lifting ban on homosexuals serving in military becomes “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
1995 Kelli Peterson establishes the Gay/Straight Alliance in Salt Lake City Utah.
1996 Romer v. Evans was a historic victory for gay rights in that the Supreme Court rules that states can’t prohibit the enactment of civil rights legislation to protect the rights of homosexuals.
1996 The Defense of Marriage Act [DOMA] is passed in Congress, defining marriage as a union between a woman and man.
1996 Baehr v. Miike: Court rules that the state of Hawaii must issue marriage licenses to same sex couples.
1997 The President backs expanding the definition of hate crimes to include gay, lesbian, female and disabled.
1998 Gay student Matthew Shepard is killed in Laramie, Wyoming (ironically enough the “equality state) in a bias attack that led to hate crime legislation in the state.
GEORGE W. BUSH, 43RD US PRESIDENT (2001-2009)
2004 Mayor Gavin Newsome of San Francisco issues marriage certificates to same sex couples. However, they are later nullified by the California State Supreme Court.
2007 New Hampshire, Oregon and Washington legalize civil unions and domestic partnerships.
2008 California and Connecticut legalize same sex marriage.