Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Being Gay in the 60's

Let's go back and take a look at gay history through the decades beginning with the 1960's. I am starting with this decade for two reasons - 1. I was born in 1961 so I felt that I wanted to learn more about what was happening as I came into this world and 2. The gay rights movement really began during this decade with the Stonewall Riots. So lets see what was happening with our community during the 'Swinging Sixties'.

  • San Francisco's Daughters of Bilitis hold the first U.S. public gathering of lesbians.
  • The Homosexual Law Reform Society (HLRS) holds its first public meeting in London with over 1000 attendees.

  • First openly gay person runs for public office in the U.S. (Jose Sarria [a drag queen] runs for San Francisco Board of Supervisors).
  • Czechoslovakia and Hungary decriminalize sodomy.
  • The Rejected, the first documentary is televised on KQED in San Francisco on September 11.

  • Illinois becomes the first U.S. state to remove sodomy law from its criminal code.

  • Israel decriminalizes de-facto sodomy and sexual acts between men by judicial decision against the enforcement of the relevant section in the old British-mandate law from 1936 (which in fact was never enforced).

  • Canada has its first gay-positive organization - ASK, and its first gay magazines - ASK Newsletter (Vancouver) and Gay (Toronto).
  • Life magazine runs a positive cover story on "Homosexuality in America".

  • Everett George Klippert is imprisoned in Canada for homosexuality (arrested for private, consensual sex with men).
  • Conservatively dressed gays and lesbians demonstrate outside Independence Hall in Philadelpha on July 4.

  • The National Planning Conference of Homophile Organizations is established.
  • The Mattachine Society stages a "Sip-In" at Julius Bar in New York City challenging a New York State Liquor Authority prohibiting serving alcohol to gays.
  • First U.S. gay community center opens, in San Francisco.
  • First transgender public uprising at San Francisco’s Compton’s Cafeteria.

  • In September, The first issue of "The Advocate" sells out all 300 12-page copies.
  • Oscar Wilde Bookshop, the world's first gay and lesbian bookstore, opens in New York City.
  • The Black Cat Tavern in Los Angeles is raided on New Year's day by 12 plainclothes police officers who beat and arrested employees and patrons. The raid prompted a series of protests that began on January 5, organized by P.R.I.D.E. (Personal Rights in Defense and Education). It's the first use of the term "Pride" that came to be associated with LGBT rights.
  • England and Wales legalize male homosexuality as long as both men are 21.
  • Chad decriminalizes homosexuality.

  • Reverend Troy Perry starts the Metropolitan Community Church (MCC) in Los Angeles with a group of about 12 people.
    In Houston Texas, several lesbians are arrested on charges of cross-dressing because they were wearing fly-front pants.
  • Paragraph 175 is eased in East Germany decriminalizing homosexual acts over the age of 18.
    Bulgaria decriminalizes adult homosexual relations.
  • The American Psychiatric Association moves homosexuality from “sociopathic” category to “sexual deviation”.

  • Homosexual behavior legalized in Canada.
    FREE, first gay student group formed in the U.S.
    Bill C-150 is passed, decriminalizing homosexuality in Canada.
    On December 31, the Cockettes perform for the first time at the Palace Theatre on Union and Columbus in the North Beach neighborhood of San Francisco.
    National Institute of Mental Health study chaired by Dr. Evelyn Hooker urges decriminalization of private sex acts between consenting adults.
  • At the Stonewall Inn on Christopher Street around 3am, the Stonewall Riots begin in New York City's Greenwich Village. The event is not reported in TIME & Newsweek until October of 1969.
The Sixties brought a lot of change for the gay community and I for one am thankful to all the people who stood up for themselves. It has really made things so much easier for us today. And I would hope that they are proud of what we have continued to do for gay rights. Tomorrow I move into the 70's.

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