Updated: Aug 16, 2020
Gay Pride month starts tomorrow, and it wont be the same due to the Covid-19 Pamedemic. Most events were cancelled or moved to later in the year on the calendar. This does not mean that the LGBTQ Community does not have to celebrate Pride month this year. We can celebrate it in smaller groups, on zoom rooms, and we can celebrate it by really remembering those that got us here.
I really feel that the younger generation has no clue as to what our past community members had to do in order for all of us to shine our freak flags, and be who we are with our too much scrutiny. Years ago it was not easy to be gay, lesbian, bi, or trans gendered. People fought hard and even risked their lives to give us our way of living today. Let us never forget what they had to do for us in the past.
Henry Gerber, a German immigrant, founded the Society for Human Rights, the first documented gay rights organization in the United States. During his U.S. Army service in World War I, Gerber was inspired to create his organization by the Scientific-Humanitarian Committee, a “homosexual emancipation” group in Germany.
Gerber’s small group published a few issues of its newsletter “Friendship and Freedom,” the country’s first gay-interest newsletter. Police raids forced the group to disband in 1925. But 90 years later, the U.S. government designated Gerber’s Chicago house a National Historic Landmark. Police which of course is led by our government just a year after this group was founded forced it to disband. It was not cool at all to be gay back in the 1920's in fact it was against the law.
Homosexual prisoners at the concentration camp at Sachsenhausen, Germany, wearing pink triangles on their uniforms on December 19, 1938. This is how the pink triangle was started.
The gay rights movement stagnated for the next few decades, though LGBT individuals around the world did come into the spotlight a few times.
For example, English poet and author Radclyffe Hall stirred up controversy in 1928 when she published her lesbian-themed novel, The Well of Loneliness. And during World War II, the Nazis held homosexual men in concentration camps, branding them with the infamous pink triangle badge, which was also given to sexual predators.
The gay rights movement saw some early progress In the 1960s. In 1961, Illinois became the first state to do away with its anti-sodomy laws, effectively decriminalizing homosexuality, and a local TV station in California aired the first documentary about homosexuality, called The Rejected.
In 1965, Dr. John Oliven, in his book Sexual Hygiene and Pathology, coined the term “transgender” to describe someone who was born in the body of the incorrect sex.
But more than 10 years earlier, transgendered individuals entered the American consciousness when George William Jorgensen, Jr., underwent sex-reassignment surgery in Denmark to become Christine Jorgensen.
Despite this progress, LGBT individuals lived in a kind of urban subculture and were routinely subjected to harassment and persecution, such as in bars and restaurants. In fact, gay men and women in New York City could not be served alcohol in public due to liquor laws that considered the gathering of homosexuals to be “disorderly.”
In fear of being shut down by authorities, bartenders would deny drinks to patrons suspected of being gay or kick them out altogether; others would serve them drinks but force them to sit facing away from other customers to prevent them from socializing.
In 1966, members of the Mattachine Society in New York City staged a “sip-in”—a twist on the “sit-in” protests of the 1960s—in which they visited taverns, declared themselves gay, and waited to be turned away so they could sue. They were denied service at the Greenwich Village tavern Julius, resulting in much publicity and the quick reversal of the anti-gay liquor laws.
This all starts moving up to the time of the Stone Wall Riots that started at the Stone Wall Inn. Before we write about the Stone Wall Riots we want to focus on the individuals who sacrificed to get us even to that point.
Keep following our blog during Pride Month June 2020 as we continue to remember those that fought and sacrificed so much for the Gay Rights Movement. Let us all remember this, so we know how to and if we need to do so again to maintain our rights.