LGBTQ+ Rights in the United States
Genesis Summer Intern 2022
Foothill High School
June 22, 2022
In honor of Pride month, I thought to dive into the history of LGBTQ+ rights in the United States. This country has prided itself on agreeing on how “all men are created equal” however we’ve never really stood by anyone who refused to conform to heternormative culture.
Currently same-sex couples can legally get married in all fifty states, but theres still stigma around their openness. During Pride month, one can see rainflow flags and merchandise around every store, but does it really mean anything?
Recently, Florida signed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill which prevents converstions about sexual orientation. This is a giant setback for LGBTQ+ rights in our country, and it prevents children and adults from embracing themselves and their neighbors. Why is it considered dangerous for someone to talk openly about their sexual or gender orientation?
It’s depressing that we still live in an environment where anyone considered “different” is suppressed.
While, we’ve made some progress since the first Gay Rights Movements, there’s still a long way to go into changing our unconscious actions.
To study or even celebrate the first steps the United States took to be more inclusive, here's a list of the most significant movements.
1924: The Society for Human Rights
Founded by Henry Gerber, it was the first recorded homosexual rights oraganized. The Society also had a regularly published newspaper, however, very few people chose to subscribe to it in fear of being persecuted. Friendship and Freedom the newspaper and the Society itself died down because of social hostility.
1967: The Los Angeles Advocate (a newsletter) began.
It was started by a group called the Personal Rights in Defense and Education or PRIDE. It is now the largest LGBTQ+ magazine in the United States. It provides news on queer leaders in politics and entertainment.
1970: Christopher Street Liberation Day
Held in honor of Stonewall Riots which was an uprising of LGBTQ+ peoples against police assault on Christopher Street in New York city. This memorable moment became known as the birthplace of gay liberation movements.
1973: American Psychiatric Association makes a significant change
At one time, the American Psychiatric Association had labelled homosexuality as a mental illness. In 1973, it changed that claim, marking a big step, for its time, in the LGBTQ+ community. After this, the APA also vowed to support changes on the government level to ensure equal rights for homosexuals.
1979: March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights
It was a protest to convince President Carter to ban discrimination against gay/lesbian indivudals. It was directed to end discrimination in all forms – workplace, entry into the military, against LGBTQ+ youth and parents, and reversing existing laws.
It was successful in creating a ripple effect of more protests and was considered a celebration of LGBTQ culture.
2017: Gender Neutral driver’s license
As of 2021, 22 states allow non-binary people to have an “X” on their drivers license/passports. It is a policy made to include those who identify as neither male nor female.
While there have been more improvements since 2017, there have also been more setbacks. There are still hate crimes committed due to sexual orientation or gender identity. There is still discrimination against same-sex couples parenting. In 2021, there were multiple anti-trans bills:
there was an anti-trans ban made to prevent trans youth from playing sports
one that took away medical care from transgender indivudals
four religious refusal bills which allowed discrimination against minorities based on their religious beliefs.
2021 was considered one of the worst years for LGBTQ+ and trans individuals because of all the possible forms of discrimination that were condoned against them.
How do we as a community allow human beings to be so horribly treated? Why is it that we overlook basic facts simply because we do not know how to deal with diversity? Why is it that instead of finding solutions we blame our problems on those different from us?
These are just a few questions that I hope our generation can answer.
“The Advocate.” Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer News & Politics, 15 June 2022, https://www.advocate.com/. Accessed 18 June 2022.
“Christopher Street Day Parade – Berlin.de.” Berlin.de, 2022, https://www.berlin.de/en/events/2096878-2842498-csd-christopher-street-day.en.html. Accessed 19 June 2022.
Diaz, Jaclyn. “Ron DeSantis signs the so-called 'Don't Say Gay' bill.” NPR, 28 March 2022, https://www.npr.org/2022/03/28/1089221657/dont-say-gay-florida-desantis. Accessed 18 June 2022.
“HUSL Library: A Brief History of Civil Rights in the United States: National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights.” Howard University School of Law Library, 2 March 2022, https://library.law.howard.edu/civilrightshistory/lgbtq/march. Accessed 19 June 2022.
“LGBTQ Activism: The Henry Gerber House, Chicago, IL (US National Park Service).” National Park Service, 20 February 2018, https://www.nps.gov/articles/lgbtq-activism-henry-gerber-house-chicago-il.htm. Accessed 18 June 2022.
Ronan, Wyatt. “2021 Slated to Become Worst Year for LGBTQ State Legislative Attacks as Unprecedented Number of States Poised to Enact Record-Shattering Number of Anti-LGBTQ Measures Into Law.” Human Rights Campaign, 22 April 2021, https://www.hrc.org/press-releases/2021-slated-to-become-worst-year-for-lgbtq-state-legislative-attacks. Accessed 19 June 2022.
Turner, Allison. “In 1973, APA Removed Homosexuality From List of Mental Illnesses.” Human Rights Campaign, 15 December 2017, https://www.hrc.org/news/flashbackfriday-today-in-1973-the-apa-removed-homosexuality-from-list-of-me. Accessed 19 June 2022.
Whittaker, Max. “LGBTQ Rights Milestones Fast Facts.” CNN, 19 June 2015, https://www.cnn.com/2015/06/19/us/lgbt-rights-milestones-fast-facts/index.html. Accessed 18 June 2022.