15th Anniversary of LBGT History Month

October 2020

Stonewall Riots

The Stonewall Riots, also called the Stonewall Uprising, began in the early hours of June 28, 1969 when New York City police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay club located in Greenwich Village in New York City. The raid sparked a riot among bar patrons and neighborhood residents as police roughly hauled employees and patrons out of the bar, leading to six days of protests and violent clashes with law enforcement outside the bar on Christopher Street, in neighboring streets and in nearby Christopher Park. The Stonewall Riots served as a catalyst for the gay rights movement in the United States and around the world.

After the bar was cleared, patrons didn’t leave. They fought back. Fed up, they rioted, threw debris at police officers, and set fires. The crowd grew as local residents joined the protest, and rioting continued outside the bar for a week before the crowds dispersed. In the wake of the Stonewall uprising, as it became known, several gay rights organizations were started, including the Gay Liberation Front and the Gay Activists Alliance. Later, groups such as the Human Rights CampaignGLAAD, and Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) were formed.

 

Explore more history of the LGBTQ movement in America here.

Hero of the LGBT Movement 

Brenda Howard a gay rights activist and considered the mother of gay Pride after organizing the first pride march

Brenda Howard (left) marching for LGBTQ rights

Who was the real mother of Pride?

A Bronx-born woman named Brenda Howard.

A month after the three-day Stonewall riots of 1969 occurred, Howard participated in a march honoring the event. Then for the one-year anniversary in June 1970, Howard organized the Christopher Street Liberation Day March. This March then became a historic marker and precedent for several others in history, much like other LGBT organizer Bayard Rustin did for the March on Washington.

 

Brenda Howard’s activism didn’t proceed without conflict. She was arrested several times for her advocacy work. She was once arrested in 1988 when she protested for free national healthcare, the fair treatment of women, people of color, and people living with HIVE and AIDS. She also was arrested in 1991 for fighting against job discrimination when an out lesbian in the Georgia state attorney general’s office was fired over Georgia’s anti-sodomy law. 

Brenda Howard passed away on June 28, 2005, which happened to be the 36th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. Now, her legacy lives on in every Pride event happening around the globe.

Two LGBT Rights Heroes Are Getting Statues

Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson

This year is the 50th anniversary of Pride and two activists who played roles in the movement’s inception are being honored with monuments.

The two were also founding members of both the Gay Liberation Front and the Gay Activists Alliance. They also helped to create the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries, or STAR House, which acts as a refuge for homeless LGBTQ people.

As for that first organization, it was one of the foremost organizations to fight for LGBTQ rights post-Stonewall.

While stirrings of Pride were on the rise in the West coast of America through riots happening in California, it’s the Stonewall riots in New York City that are marked as the start of the gay rights movement.

The Stonewall Inn was a hole-in-the-wall gay bar being terrorized by homophobic police and opportunistic mafia members. After being bothered by a police raid one night, several customers fought back. Trans patron Marsha P. Johnson was an active member of the riot that ensued.

While there were about 205* customers within the bar during the initial police raid, historians believe that it was “flame queens,” hustlers, and gay “street kids” who started the riot against hostile police officers. 

Now, decades after that fateful night and the following years of activism exhibited by both women, they are finally getting the recognition they deserve. Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera will be the first transwomen immortalized as statues in the US.

According to Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office, the statues will be placed in the Greenwich Village area where the Stonewall riot took place.

Marsha P. Johnson / Image via NETFLIX, THE DEATH AND LIFE OF MARSHA P. JOHNSON

Marsha P. Johnson. Image via NETFLIX, THE DEATH AND LIFE OF MARSHA P. JOHNSON

Sylvia Rivera (left) and Marsha P. Johnson (second from left) / Image via NETFLIX, THE DEATH AND LIFE OF MARSHA P. JOHNSON

Sylvia Rivera (left) and Marsha P. Johnson (second from left). During a protest at City Hall, NYC (Photo by Diana Davies). Image via NETFLIX, THE DEATH AND LIFE OF MARSHA P. JOHNSON

The Pink Triangle

Prisoners wearing pink triangles on their uniforms are marched outdoors by Nazi guards at the Sachsenhausen concentration camp in Germany on Dec. 19, 1938.

Prisoners wearing pink triangles on their uniforms are marched outdoors by Nazi guards at the Sachsenhausen concentration camp in Germany on Dec. 19, 1938.

Frieda Belinfante a half-Jewish lesbian, used this disguise to hide from Nazi authorities

Frieda Belinfante

“For three months I was disguised as a man, and very successfully… I passed my mother several times … she never recognized me.”

Frieda Belinfante, a half-Jewish lesbian, was involved in the resistance movement which included planning the destruction of the Amsterdam Population Registry in March 1943, falsifying identity cards, and arranging hiding places for those who were sought by the Nazis.

She was driven to hide herself, after many other members of the Netherlands-based gay resistance group were executed in 1943 by occupying Nazi authorities. In December 1943, Frieda escaped to Switzerland and later immigrated to the United States.

Just as the Nazis forced Jewish people to wear a yellow Star of David, they also forced people they labeled as gay to wear inverted pink triangles (or ‘die Rosa-Winkel’). Those thus branded were treated as “the lowest of the low in the camp hierarchy,” as one scholar put it.

The roots of the Nazi persecution of gay people are deep. Since German unification in 1871, a section of the country’s criminal law widely known as “paragraph 175” had said that men who engaged in acts of “unnatural indecency” could go to jail. In 1877, the German Supreme Court of Justice clarified that to mean evidence of an “intercourse-like act.” But the law was only enforced sporadically. And the fact that it was almost impossible to convict anyone unless he confessed to such a crime in court meant that police just kept a watchful eye on gay bars and events, and Germany ended up becoming home to a vibrant gay community. Historian Robert Beachy argues that, ironically, the law spurred scientific interest in the study of sexual preferences, and that research tended to encourage a more scientific understanding of human sexuality, which further allowed the idea of gay rights to flourish.

According to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM), that changed when the Nazis came into power in the 1930s. Hitler saw gay men as a threat to his campaign to purify Germany, especially because their partnerships could not bear children who would grow the Aryan race he wanted to cultivate. During that period, gay-friendly bars and clubs started being shut down, authorities burned the books at a major research institution devoted to the study of sexuality, and gay fraternal organizations were shuttered. These efforts only increased after the Night of the Long Knives, the 1934 purge of Nazi leaders who were accused of trying to overthrow Hitler; they included Storm Troopers leader Ernst Röhm, whom the SS murdered, later citing his homosexuality as justification for his murder. A Nazi revision of the 1871 law took effect in September of 1935, outlawing anything as simple as men looking at or touching one another in a sexually suggestive way, and enabled authorities to arrest people even if they had only heard rumors that people had been engaging in such behavior. (Lesbians, however, didn’t face the same criminal penalties.) The Gestapo began to keep “pink lists” of violators.

Between 1933 and 1945, by the USHMM’s count, an estimated 100,000 men were arrested for violating this law, and about half went to prison. It’s thought that somewhere between 5,000 and 15,000 men were sent to concentration camps for reasons related to sexuality, but exactly how many died in them may never be known, between the scant documentation that survived and the sense of shame that kept many survivors silent for years after their ordeal.

From the few survivors and prison guards who have shared their stories, it’s been learned that those sent to concentration camps were segregated, for fear that their sexual preference was contagious. Many were castrated. Some were used as guinea pigs in various medical experiments to find a cure for typhus fever and a cure for homosexuality, the latter of which led the SS to inject them with testosterone to see if it would make them straight. At the same time, some Kapos (prisoners selected by the SS to keep fellow prisoners in line) are said to have demanded sexual favors from prisoners, who were known as “doll boys,” in exchange for extra food or protection from hard labor.

Yet in the post-war years, fear of arrest and imprisonment didn’t go away. The Nazi law stayed in place until a 1969 West German law decriminalized gay relationships among men over 21. As one of the USHMM’s curators has pointed out, even as the Allied powers carefully worked to scrub Nazism from Germany, they left that part alone — perhaps because they had anti-gay and anti-sodomy laws of their own. Paragraph 175 wasn’t repealed until 1994. 

 -Via OLIVIA B. WAXMAN AT OLIVIA.WAXMAN@TIME.COM

Videos of LGTQ History

The Stonewall You Know Is a Myth

“Who threw the first brick at Stonewall?” has become a rallying cry, a cliche and a queer inside joke on the internet — never mind the fact that it’s not clear whether bricks were ever thrown during the riots at all.

Wanda Sykes Takes Us Through the History of LGBTQ+

Have you ever wondered about the beginnings of homosexuality? Get to know a little bit about the fight for equality as Wanda Sykes takes us on a journey all the way back to ancient Greece to the present day. We get to celebrate moments like Pride Month in June and Transgender Awareness Week in November.

Important LGBTQ Moments In US History

Love is love, is love, is love. Some of the top important LGBTQ milestones in US History. These moments include the Stonewall Riots, the first pride parade, the publishing of The Transsexual Phenomenon, the passing of the Matthew Shepard Act, and more. Although the introduction of bills and laws are definitely monumental, we’re excluding events like the introduction of the Equality Act and instead focusing on bills once they’ve been passed.

A Living History of the LGBT Movement Since The 1800s

This is “A #LivingHistory of the LGBT Movement” powered by AARP – a storytelling series honoring past, present and future heroes of the LGBT movement. By understanding history, we can create a better future for everyone. Learn More at AARP.org/PRIDE.

Tel Aviv Is One of the Most LGBTQ-Friendly Cities in the World

Tel Aviv is among the most popular holiday destinations for LGBTQ travellers, with the city home to a plethora of LGBTQ bars, gyms, beaches and hotels, as well the largest Pride parade in the Middle East and Asia.

Tel Aviv Pride is one of Israel’s largest and wildest celebrations. The Pride parade takes place annually as part of Tel Aviv Pride Week, a series of events that brings the city’s LGBTQ community together to celebrate who they are in total freedom. While a 1979 protest held at Rabin Square is often regarded as the city’s first Pride event, Tel Aviv Love Parade in 1997 bears more similarities to the parade as we know it today. 

Over the past few years, the Tel Aviv Municipality has been making many efforts to cement Tel Aviv’s status as one of the world’s most gay-friendly cities. At Pride 2017, the city’s mayor, Ron Huldai, emphasised Tel Aviv’s liberal position, stating: “Tel Aviv Pride parade is not just a celebration, but also an important declaration of support. Tel Aviv, which has already been acknowledged as the world’s most gay-friendly city will continue to be a lighthouse city – spreading the values of freedom, tolerance and democracy to the world.”

Although there is always much progress to be made, Israel’s stance on LGBTQ issues is considered the most tolerant in the Middle East. While same-sex marriages are not performed in the country, Israel recognises cohabitation between same-sex couples, as well as equal marriages performed elsewhere. Adoption by same-sex couples was legalised in 2008, while the Supreme Court of Israel allowed stepchild adoptions and limited co-guardianship rights for non-biological parents three years previous.

LGBT History Month Display Posters at SLCC Library Campus Locations

Salt Lake Community College

Taylorsville Redwood Campus

4600 South Redwood Road

Salt Lake City, UT 84123

Markosian Library

801-957-4602 

  • Mon – Thu:7:30 am-12:00 am
  • Fri:7:30 am-6:00 pm
  • Sat:9:30 am-6:00 pm

Digital Archives 

 
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