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1970: First legislative hearings on Gay Rights by three members of the New York Assembly
1970: NOW (National Organization for Women) kicks out Rita Mae Brown and other lesbians
1970: Amazon Bookstore, the first American Lesbian-Feminist bookstore, opens in Minneapolis
1971: Lesbian-Feminist Seperatist collective The Furies founded by dissatisfied ex-members of NOW Joan Biren, Charlotte Bunch, Rita Mae Brown and Helaine Harris
1971: One year after expelling lesbians, NOW acknowledges lesbian oppression
1972: East Lansing, Michigan is first city to ban sexual-orientation discrimination in city hiring
1972: Camille Mitchell, an open lesbian, is first to win custody of children in disputed divorce case.  Judge restricts Mitchell from co-habitating with lover
1973: Supreme Court rules in the Roe vs. Wade case in favor of a woman's right to first tri-mester abortion
1973: Naiad Press, Lesbian book publishers, started by Barbara Grier and Donna McBride
1973: Two Army WACs, Gail Bates and Valerie Randolph, married by publicity hound Reverand Ray Broshears in San Francisco.  As a result, both discharged from military
1973: Olivia Records founded by Lesbian collective and releases first single featuring Meg Christian and Cris Williamson
1974: The first bill to prohibit discrimination against Gays and Lesbians, HR-14752, introduced to House of Representatives by Bella Abzug and Ed Koch
1974: Kathy Kozachenko is the first openly gay candidate elected. (To the Ann Arbor, Micigan City Council.)
1974: Elaine Noble becomes first openly gay candidate elected to state (Massachusetts) legislature
1974: Homosexuality removed from list of mental disorders by American Psychiatric Association
1977: Reverand Ellen Barrett is first out Lesbian to be ordained priest (Episcopal.)
1977: Jimmy Carter presidential administration receives first Lesbian and Gay delegation
1977: Fundamentalist Anita Bryant leads campaign to (successfully) repeal Gay Rights law in Dade County, Florida
1978: Gilbert Baker designs the Rainbow Flag to fly in the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Parade
1979: The first National March on Washington for Gay and Lesbian Rights draws between 100,000 200,000 marchers.  (and Swade was there!)
1981: First reports of Kaposi's Sarcoma affecting 41 Gay men
1981: Kinsey releases study reporting neither parental or societal influences in individual sexual orientation
1981: California Governor Jerry Brown appoints first openly gay judge, Mary Morgan, to San Francisco Municipal Court
1982: The Gay Games first held in San Francisco with 1300 participants from twelve countries
1983: Coretta Scott King and other black leaders announce support of gay civil rights
1983: Karen Thompson fights parents of her lover, Sharon Kowalski, who is paralyzed from auto accident, for right to care for her
June, 1984: Unitarian Church votes to recognize Gay and Lesbian unions.
December, 1984: Berkeley becomes first city in US to institute Domestic Partner policy for city employees
1986: US Supreme Court upholds the constitutionality of Georgia's sodomy law in the finding from the 1982 appeal filed by Michael Hardwick
1987: Dramatizing the lack of rights for same-sex couples, During the October 600,000 member March on Washington D.C., approximately 2,000 same-sex couples marry in a mass wedding on the steps of the IRS building
1988: The first country to do so, Sweden legislates protection for gays and lesbians regarding taxes, inheritances and social services
1988: Lambda Delta Lambda, a lesbian UCLA sorority, makes national news.  Its constitution states goals to promote awareness of women's, minorities' and gay issues
January, 1989: Two separate studies by US Department of Defense conclude no reason to ban gays and lesbians from military service
May, 1989: Denmark first country to legalize gay marriage
1990: Sergeant Miriam ben-Shalom wins decade-long battle challenging her discharge from US Army on grounds of lesbianism.  Becomes first open lesbian ever re-enlisted.  (Decision overturned by Supreme Court when military appealed)
1991: Lesbian filmmaker, Debra Chasnoff, receives Academy Award for Best Documentary, Short Subject, for her film, DEADLY DECEPTION: GENERAL ELECTRIC, NUCLEAR WEAPONS AND OUR ENVIRONMENT, and makes additional history when she thanks her lesbian life partner from the podium
June 11, 1992: Margarethe Cammermeyer, former Colonel of the Washington State National Guard, discharged dishonorably based solely on her admission that she is a lesbian.
1992: Lesbian Avengers founded in New York
1992: Aileen Wuornos, the first U.S. Lesbian serial killer sentenced to death
1992: Poet and writer Audre Lorde, who's works included The Cancer Journals; A Burst of Light; Zami, a New Spelling of My Name; The Marvelous Arithmetic of Distance and co-founder of Kitchen Table Women of Color Press, dies of cancer
1993: Lesbian Norma McCorvey is revealed to be the famed Roe of the landmark 1973 Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court case
1993: NYC Lesbian Avengers' Valentine Day Action erects paper mache sculpture of Alice B. Toklas beside the statue of Gertrude Stein in Bryant Park
1993: First Dyke March in Washington, DC
1993: The third National March on Washington for Gay, Lesbian and Bi Equal Rights draws between 750,00 and 1.5 million marchers.   The marching contingent was so large that the route into DC's Mall had to be detoured after only the sixth contingent! (Swade was there, too!)
1995: Cherry Jones, an "out" lesbian, won the Leading Actress Tony award for her role in "The Heiress."
December, 1995: Medford, Oregon community leaders Roxanne Ellis and Michelle Abdill murdered by Robert Acremant in botched robbery attempt.  Gay community initially fear reprisal for Abdill, Ellis' efforts to defeat a statewide measure to limit the rights of homosexuals.
1996: South Africa's new constitution became the first in the world to have specific protection of lesbians and gays included.   thanks to Liz for this submission!
December 3, 1996 In landmark case, Baehr v. Lewin, Judge Chang rules that state of Hawaii failed to show compelling state interest necessary to uphold unconstitutional provisions banning same sex marriage.
thanks to Rayna for this history fact!
April 27, 1997 Three seperate studies from Britain, Belguim and U.S. unveiled at the Washington, D.C., conference of the Society for Research in Child Development confirm Lesbian parents raise healthy, well-adjusted children.  duh!
April 30, 1997 Federal Appeals Court Strikes Down Alabama Law Barring Gay Student Groups from Campus
April 30, 1997 Ellen" becomes the first prime-time television program to have its main character come out as a lesbian.
May 30, 1997 Federal Appeals Court rules 8-to-4 that State of Georgia Attorney General Michael Bowers did not violate the Constitution by firing lesbian attorney Robin Shahar on learning she and her partner had joined in religious commitment ceremony.
July 3, 1997 Texas appeals court rules lesbian is entitled to sue for visitation rights to her ex-lover's child, providing gay partners a legal standing denied in some other states.
August 31, 1997 Diana Spencer, ex-Princess of Wales, dies in Paris car crash.  
note: Although not lesbian, Diana was an amazing woman and should be included in any history dealing with women!
September 5, 1997 Mother Teresa, the Saint of the Gutters, dies in Calcutta, at age 87.
note: Although not lesbian, Mother Teresa was an amazing woman and should be included in any history dealing with women!
September 5, 1997 Walt Whitman Community School, the nation's first private school for Gays and Lesbians, opens in Dallas.
October 2, 1997 Georgia school superintendent Linda Schrenko angers PTA leaders saying she would not join because PTA too liberal and supports Gay/Lesbian rights.
October 21, 1997 Lesbian grrls" Volleyball coach Wendy Weaver, teacher of 18 years, fired from Spanish Fork, Utah school after divorcing husband and moving in with lover, files suit against Nebo School District, principal for firing, gag order.
October 23, 1997 Federal appeals court upholds Cincinnati voter initiative forbiding city government extending anti-discrimination measures to gays and lesbians.
October 22, 1997 New Jersey state court judge grants gay couple right to adopt foster child they had been caring for for nearly two years.
October 28, 1997 Medford, Oregon jury sentences Robert Acremant to death for botched-robbery murders of Michelle Abdill and Roxanne Ellis.
November 14, 1997 Atlanta, GA Emory University, affiliated with Methodist church, announces it will allow same-sex couples to say marriage vows in its chapels, but only if officiated by leader of one of 24 recognized religious groups.
December 17, 1997 Newark, NJ court settles class-action suit decides Gay and lesbian couples now able to jointly adopt children under state custody.  
December 30, 1997 Johnnie Phelps, Decorated WWII Veteran, Feminist and Gay Rights Activist, widely remembered for her conversation with Gen. Eisenhower in the filmdocumentary "Before Stonewall", dies at the Veterans Home in Barstow, CA at the age of 75.
Joining the first WAAC battalion during WWII, she first served in the South Pacific and later under the occupation forces in Germany under Eisenhower.  Wounded in action, she received the Purple Heart.  other milestones:  Appeared in the first gay production to go to Carnegie Hall; 33 years clean and sober in the "AA" program; Certified Addictions Counselor on Skid Row, Mary Lind Foundation; Counselor/Board President , Alcoholism Center for Women; Lesbian Rights Task Force Chair, Los Angeles NOW & California NOW.
thanks to Rachelle for this entry.  visit her web page dedicated to Johnnie Phelps!
January 12, 1998 Lesbian lawyer Robin Shahar, unlawfully denied job by Georgia attorney general because of her impending marriage to another woman, loses Supreme Court appeal
January 23, 1998 Johannesburg, SA..lesbian police officer Jolande Langemaat to seek order to overturn employers' refusal to register partner for medical rights under SA's LesbiGay anti-discrimination
February 6, 1998 Washington the 27th state in the United States to ban same-sex marriages when legislature overrides governor's veto.
February 28, 1998 Anchorage Superior Court Judge Peter Michalski rules against Alaska's same-sex marriage ban saying choosing a partner is a fundamental right that could result in a "nontraditional" choice.
March 13, 1998 Jimmy Creech, Kearney, Nebraska United Methodist minister on trial for performing lesbian commitment ceremony acquitted after a jury of ministers unable to convict on charges actions violated church discipline.
March 30, 1998 singer k.d. lang, one of the first nationally known musicians to come out as lesbian, honored with Special Achievement award by GLAAD -Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation
April 24, 1998 ABC cancels Ellen Degeneres' history making sitcom, first with gay lead, after five seasons
May 4, 1998 Medical journal Pediatrics releases study showing at least half of adolescents identifying as LesbiGay or Bi who grow up without support of family or community more likely to attempt suicide, take sexual, drug risks, suffer abuse and harrassment.
Click here for more information on LesbiGay/Bi Suicide and what you can do to help!
July 1, 1998 San Francisco - Lt. Andrew Holmes wins class-action when Superior Court judge David Garcia rules military's DON'T ASK DON'T TELL violates the rights of gays, lesbians and orders California National Guard to open its ranks
August 12, 1998 United Methodist Church makes canon former guideline against same sex marriages, said ministers who perform same sex ceremonies could be defrocked.
September 21, 1998 U.S. President Clinton clandestinely signs bill during the wee hours denying federal recognition of same-sex marriages
October 7, 1998 College Student Matthew Shepard, 21, found critically beaten and tied to a fence post outside Laramie, Wyoming.
October 12, 1998 Hate-crime victim Matthew Shepard dies of wounds suffered during beating.  Two perpetrators charged with murder.
October 20, 1998 Dozens arrested during New York protest for gay Wyoming student Matthew Shepard after NYC Police begin harrassing protesters.
October 29, 1998 Dallas-based Cathedral of Hope church sues Chicago's WGN-TV for breach of contract when station refuses to air a 30-minute infomercial containing gay-positive sentiments.
November 16, 1998 Winston-Salem, NC Baptist church decides to let its ministers bless same-sex couples, but not marry them, risking expulsion from the Baptist State Convention.
January 16, 1999 Sacramento, CA - In dramatic mass defiance of United Methodist law, 90 ministers bless holy union ceremony of two women.
February 15, 1999 Wellington, New Zealand - Prime Minister Jenny Shipley tells Gay and Lesbian Hero Parade she has asked for Justice Ministry study, due in March, on laws relating to adoption, property, inheritance and immigration issues in same-sex relationships.
April 30, 1999 London, England - Explosion rips through crowded gay pub in London's Soho, killing two people and wounding at least 70 others, many seriously ... White Wolves supremicist group claims responsibilty for this and two other minority attacks.
May 3, 1999 Concord, NH - NH Gov Jeanne Shaheen repeals ban on homosexuals becoming adoptive, foster parents, leaving Florida the only state with such a law.
May 20, 1999 Ottawa, Canada - Landmark gay rights ruling by Supreme Court that Ontario's legal definition of a spouse as someone of the opposite sex unconstitutional.
June 19, 1999 Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - Unanimous three-judge decision decides gay and lesbian couples enjoy same rights under law as heterosexuals.
June 30, 1999 Boston - Massachusetts Supreme Court rules gay people who help partners raise children entitled to visitation rights if the couple break up.
August 4, 1999 New Jersey Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled that the Boy Scouts of America cannot ban gays from its membership.

Back to 580s BC to 1969

  • Lavender Lists, Fletcher/Saks, Alyson Publications, (1990) ISBN 1-55583-182-6
  • Gay American History, Katz, Meridian / Penguin Books, (1976) ISBN 0-45-01092-6
  • The Gay Book of Lists, Rutledge, Alyson Publications, (1987) ISBN 1-55583-120-6
  • Hidden From History, Duberman / Vicinus / Chauncey, Meridian / Penguin Books, (1989) ISBN 0-452-01067-5
  • Alyson Almanac, Alyson Publications (1989) ISBN 1-55583-019-6
  • The Gay Decades, Rutledge, Plume Books, (1992) ISBN 0-452-26810-9
  • The Lesbian Almanac, National Museum and Archive of Lesbian and Gay History, Berkley Books, (1996) ISBN 0-425-15301-0
  • Lesbian Lists, Richards, Alyson Publications, (1990) ISBN 1-55583-163-X
  • The Women's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets, Walker, Harper and Row, (1983) ISBN 0-06-250926-8
  • Wild Women:  Crusaders, Curmudgeons and Completely Corsetless Ladies in the Otherwise Virtuous Victorian Era, Stephens, Autumn, Berkeley, CA:  Conari Press, p. 193.
If you have a substantiated Lesbian History fact you would like to see added, Click here and tell me about it!

Related Links:

ONE Institute International Gay & Lesbian Archives
Gerber/Hart Library
The Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgendered Library/Archives of Philadelphia
Women's History: A Todd Library Research Guide
Diotima: Women & Gender in the Ancient World
Richard's Gay History, Culture, Writings
Gays, Lesbians and Bisexuals in History
GLAAD's Lesbian & Gay History Month Test

 580s AD-1260AD   1600   1700   1800   1900   1920   1930   1940   1950 
 1960   1970   1980   1990   1997   1998   1999   2000   2001   2002   2003