History of LGBT Rights

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The long history of rights for any group or sect of people can be traced back deep into olden days. From the eighteenth century Age of Enlightenment to Civil Rights Movements onto Feminism to Border walls the list of basic Human Rights has been fought and won many times over. One of the major and more progressive movements are the rights of the LGBT community. This paper will discuss the beginning of this radical movement, including the concept behind it and what rights that are exactly being fought for. It will cover the struggles, the triumphs and the moments that are now recorded in history.

The history of LGBT dates to Ancient Israel because the Bible was written with the notion that homosexuality was prohibited. In a logical view of this, the only reason a law would be written into a book that would shape lives forever is that the action was happening at that time. And so, it begins, the fight to live a life that many did not believe in. The fights for rights to love whomever one pleases.

We move on to the time of the age of European exploration and empire-building, Native American, North African and Pacific Islander cultures accepting of “Two-Spirit” people or same-sex love shocked European invaders who objected to any deviation from a limited understanding of “masculine” and “feminine” roles. (Morris) As the years pass by many more instances of same-sex love are shown throughout history yet the actual timeline for rights began in 1924 when Henry Gerber from Chicago founded the Society for Human Rights. Gerber was originally from Germany and while he was in the Army was stationed in Germany. What he saw there was the reasoning behind coming back and forming this alliance group. It was such a taboo in the States to be homosexual he wanted a place for others to feel like they belonged. In 2015, the Henry Gerber House became the nation's second National Historic Landmark designated for its association with LGBTQ history. (NPS)

From this moment on there was many different types and methods used for fighting for rights. According to CNN, here are some more of the most notable in helping LGBT and many that were publicized in the name of allowing others to be comfortable in their own lives. “In 1950 The Mattachine Society is formed by activist Harry Hay and is one of the first sustained gay rights groups in the United States. The Society focuses on social acceptance and other support for homosexuals.” (CNN) This society just like the one in 1924 gave a way for people to be who they were without the fear of discrimination and arrest.

1969 brought us Stonewall which was a bar for gays and lesbians, it was raided by police and many demonstrations and protects began and it became a facilitator for the gay civil rights movement. (PBS) Community members in New York City march through the local streets to recognize the one-year anniversary of the Stonewall riots. This event is named Christopher Street Liberation Day, and is now considered the first gay pride parade.(PBS)

The first march for gay and lesbian rights takes place in Washington and in this pivotal moment, things began to change. People started listening and seeing that gays and lesbians are not a threat to anyone. A big win for the LGBT community is the Hate Crimes Sentencing Enhancement Act that states if a judge to impose harsher sentences if there is evidence showing that a victim was selected because of the 'actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, ethnicity, gender, disability, or sexual orientation of any person.' (CNN)

The fight that has lasted the longest and one that just recently became something we have all won on is the issue of marriage. While this subject has been prevalent throughout history and continuously knocked down it now has become the greatest accomplishment. The war on allowing LGBT marriage began in Vermont in 2000 when it became the first state to allow gay marriage. (CNN) In 2004 the first legal same-sex marriage took place and history began. Now it is legal to marry in all states.

The purpose of all gay civil rights activism is the right to be treated as equals. Equality is the one right that so many have fought for their entire lives. Throughout history, the same sentiment has been shown. If a person is different than the masses, then there becomes a problem with that group. In that instance, the fight began for the basic human decency to live, love and be the people that we all deserve.


  1. “LGBTQ Activism: The Henry Gerber House, Chicago, IL (U.S. National Park Service).” National Parks Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, www.nps.gov/articles/lgbtq-activism-henry-gerber-house-chicago-il.htm
  2. “LGBT Rights Milestones Fast Facts.” CNN, Cable News Network, 17 Aug. 2018, www.cnn.com/2015/06/19/us/lgbt-rights-milestones-fast-facts/index.html.
  3. Morris, Bonnie J. “History of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Social Movements.” American Psychological Association, American Psychological Association, www.apa.org/pi/lgbt/resources/history.aspx. George Washington University Washington, D.C.
  4. “Stonewall Inn: Through the Years.” PBS, Public Broadcasting Service, www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/features/stonewall-inn-through-years/.
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History of LGBT Rights. (2021, May 13). Retrieved July 25, 2024 , from

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