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Gay Rights History

Updated on June 26, 2015

The History of Homosexuality

This is just a glimpse of the history on gay/lesbian rights and people who have been fighting for their rights. There has always been a stigma around being gay, but why? Why do humans think they should judge each other and why do people think being gay is a sin in the first place? How can you change something you were born with? Were people born gay? Is it a choice? I will look into all these things briefly and let you make up your own mind.

I made this video for a bunch of my friends who are either gay, lesbian, chonically ill, or just just plain feel invisible. - What if we could all wear a sign,

What would your sign say?

My Son & I - Being the mom of a son who is gay,

I have witnessed firsthand how far we still need to go in acceptance, compassion, and non judgement in this world. I have seen him be bullied, I have seen people use religion to try to hurt or scare the "gay" out of him, and i have seen him physically hurt. Once we even had to pull him out of high school due to death threats.

So when people say, "We have come a long way, baby," that scares me. I can't even begin to imagine what it was like before.

On that note, I will say, he is the most loving and sweet son I could of asked for. He has struggled from day one, first with heart problems, having to have heart surgery when he was four years old, to the normal ups and downs of raising a teen, to his "coming out" and getting picked on. But we have also had our fair share of good things. I am chronically ill, and my son lives with me and helps me with everything I need, from groceries to just sitting by me if I feel scared that something is going to happen. He has gone to every "Lyme Walk" I have done to support me. He is a beautiful writer. He will do anything for his friends.

Don't get me wrong, he's not perfect by any means. He has no problem rolling his eyes at me or stomping his feet like a two year old when I ask him to take out the garbage. But hey, don't we just love our kids, temper tantrums and all!!

So on that note, I thought I would take a brief look into the history of homosexuality.

Alfredo's Fire

History on Homosexuality

Ancient History

The earliest recorded documents of same sex relationships comes from Ancient Greece. An example from this time period is Alexander the Great and Hephaestion. In the imperialistic culture of the early Roman Empire, it was taken for granted that an older man could have several younger males as a sexual partner. However, it was regarded as shameful for an older man to take the passive role in intercourse. And these relationships were to be before marriage to a women or aside of it. Records show that ancient Greeks believed semen, to be a source of knowledge, and that these relationships served to pass wisdom on from the erastes to the eromenos within society.

It seems each culture has its own rules on sexuality. In China and Japan, since ancient times, homosexuality was well tolerated. In many societies of Melanesia, same-sex relationships were, until the middle of the last century, an integral part of the culture.

Homosexual activity is a crime in most Muslim-majority countries. In the Islamic regimes of Iran, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Yemen, homosexual activity is punished with the death penalty. In Nigeria and Somalia you may also get the death penalty.

In Africa Anthropologists reported that women in Lesotho engaged in socially accepted long term sexual relationships called motsoalle.

So basically even in ancient times, no one could agree.

Homosexuality in the Middle Ages

It seems that in the Middle ages is where church stuck their nose into sexual orientation. It had opinions and laws about every aspect of sex. Adultery and sexual activity could be sins punishable by death in some cases, but for awhile the Church actually condoned prostitution, saying it was a necessary evil. Priest were even actually allowed to marry and have children.

The Catholic Church's opinion on homosexuality was stated by the theologian, Peter Damian in his Book of Gommorah. Sodomy was defined as "acts against nature." He also named lesbianism a sin. The church began to prosecute sexual sinners in the 12th and 13th centuries. Sodomy was punishable by death.

There is evidence of figures that were homosexuals however. King Richard I of England was thought to be homosexual, it is rumoured that he met his wife Berenegaria while in a sexual relationship with her brother. It is also reported that he and King Philip II of France were sexually involved.

Modern Sociology and Laws - of Homosexuality

My son expressing his feelings
My son expressing his feelings

Most countries do not impede consensual sex between unrelated persons above the local age of consent. Parts of the United States are starting to recognize gay peoples rights, protections, and privileges for the family structures of same-sex couples. But there are some states that still do not recognize same sex marriages. In some Muslim countries homosexuality is still punishable by death.

Although homosexual acts were decriminalized in some parts of the Western world, such as Poland and Denmark in 1930s, and the United Kingdom in late 1960s, it was not until the mid-1970s that the gay community first began to achieve limited civil rights in some developed countries. On July 2, 2009, homosexuality was decriminalized in India by a High Court ruling. In 1973 the American Psychiatric Association removed homosexuality from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. In 1977, Quebec became the first state-level jurisdiction in the world to prohibit discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation. Starting in the 1980s most developed countries made laws decriminalizing homosexual behavior and prohibiting discrimination against lesbian and gay people at their jobs, housing, and other services. Still many countries today in the Middle East, Africa, and several countries in Asia, the Caribbean and the South Pacific, have still outlawed homosexuality.

In 1968 Gay Liberation Movement emerged towards the end of the decade. This new gay rigths movement is often attributed to the Stonewall riots of 1969. There a group of transsexuals, lesbians, drag queens and gay males in New York resisted a police raid at a bar. Although gay liberation was already underway, Stonewall certainly played a major role for the gay rights movement. GLF leader Brenda Howard from the Stonewall riots were commemorated by yearly marches that became known as Gay pride parades. From 1970 activists protested that the classification of homosexuality as a mental illness by the American Psychiatric Association in their Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, and in 1974 it was replaced with a category of "sexual orientation disturbance" then "ego-dystonic homosexuality", which was also deleted, although "gender identity disorder" remains.

In 1972, Sweden became the first country in the world to allow people who were transsexual to change their sex in 1972, and provides free hormone replacement therapy.

From the Gay Liberation Movement of the early 1970s arose a more reformist and single-issue "Gay Rights Movement." Gay and lesbian rights advocates argued that one's sexual orientation does not reflect on one's gender. For example you can be a transvestite and still like a women.

In 1979, a multitude of people in Sweden called in sick with a "case of being homosexual", in protest of homosexuality being classified as an illness. This was followed by an activist occupation of the main office of the National Board of Health and Welfare. This resulted in Sweden being the first to take remove sexuality from being an illness.

In Canada, the coming into effect of Section 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms in 1985 saw a change in the gay rights movement as gays and lesbians moved from liberation to litigious strategies. Premised on Charter protections and on the notion of the immutability of homosexuality, judicial rulings quickly advanced rights, including those that urged the Canadian government to legalize same-sex marriage.

Do you think it is more socially accepted to be a lesbian then a gay man? Why do you think that is?

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      @anonymous: I think the issue of acceptance of gay male versus gay female can oftentimes be dependant upon demographics. I am from a small town in southeast Missouri where it is not acceptable to be either lesbian or gay male.

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      Wonderful lens!!! Way to spotlight the struggle for gay rights throughout history! Thank you for spotlighting my lens FREE LOVE! It is so nice to see a mother so supportive of a gay son. My mother, too, has been very supportive of me as a lesbian. My father, however, has not. It has been a very painful journey, but people like you and like my mother make it worthwhile.

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      sousababy 5 years ago

      I'm heterosexual but I sense that it is more 'acceptable' to be a lesbian than a gay male . . from how I observe people being treated in downtown Toronto. I feel in Canada, though, it is becoming easier for gay men - but certainly not in some areas of the world (unfortunately).

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      As a lesbian, I think so. Society sees women as softer, more emotional and more connected to others. A majority of women get very close to their female friends - something very normal. When society sees two women together other than in an overt romantic embrace, no one bats an eye. It's not the same for gay men.

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      Lovely lens.The number of gay couples have been increasing day by day.This lens will provide them with great information.I like it very much as well.Thanks a lot for sharing this.

      Visit:http://fullthrottleondemand.com/blog/2011/10/20/ma...

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      greenlungsofpoland 5 years ago

      No it's is not more sociable acceptable it is just that the average straight guy is supposed to dream of sleeping with two women. That's just an mans erotic fantasy and nothing to do with being lesbian or gay. We are all different and that's to be admired not judged or accepted i for one am not looking for anyone approval i am me and when i marry my hubby to be next year it's not because anyone else told or expects us to. Simply it's because we want to share our love in a celebration with friends and family.

    Gay/Lesbian Rights Movements

    People and Organizations

    Mark Segal, an early member of Gay Liberation, has continued to be a major player in gay equality. Many people refer to Mark Segal as the dean of American gay journalism. He was a pioneer of the local gay press movement. As a young gay activist, Segal understood the power of media. He was one of the founders and former president of both The National Gay Press Association and the National Gay Newspaper Guild. He also is the founder and publisher of the award-winning Philadelphia Gay News. In 1973 Segal disrupted the CBS evening news with Walter Cronkite, an event covered in newspapers across the country and viewed by 60% of American households. He then went on to disrupt The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, and Barbara Walters on The Today Show.

    Fighting for Equal Rights Since 1971 GLAA is a volunteer, non-partisan, non-profit advocacy organization founded in 1971, with a local Washington, D.C. focus. We are America's oldest continuously active organization devoted to gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender civil rights. The group also functions as a political watchdog to make sure that the District's police department and other agencies work with and not against the LGBT community.The group is also involved with lobbying and conducting research.http://www.glaa.org/.

    POINT- a mentoring group for gay/lesbians Click here

    For 25 years, GLAAD has worked with news, entertainment and social media to bring culture-changing stories of LGBT people into millions of homes and workplaces every day. Click here

    Mentoring gay/lesbian students.Click here -

    Gay Rights Click here

    LA Pride Support Grouop Click here

    Lesbian Rights- NCLR has expanded its life-and law-changing work in order to advance the legal landscape for every LGBT person. Click here

    Christopher R. Barron, Co-Founder of GOProud which is a political organization representing gay conservatives.

    Meghan McCain (born 1984) columnist, blogger and daughter of senator John McCain. She has on several occasions expressed support for gay marriage, gay adoption and for repealing Don't Ask Don't Tell. She posed for the NOH8 campaign with her mother Cindy McCain.

    Wayne Besen Founder of Truth Wins Out. Former spokesman for the Human Rights Campaign.

    Margarethe Cammermeyer (born 1942), former colonel in the Washington state National Guard whose coming out story was made into the 1995 movie Serving in Silence, starring Glenn Close.

    Matt Foreman (born 1953), Executive Director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.

    Barney Frank (born 1940), member of the Democratic Party who has served as a member of Congress from Massachusetts since 1981.

    Aaron Fricke (born 1962), who successfully sued the Cumberland, Rhode Island school system in 1980 for the right to bring his boyfriend to the senior prom.

    Lady Gaga, (born 1986), a pop singer-songwriter and bisexual-identified LGBT rights activist, she partnered up with the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network to urge her generation to play a more prominent role in the repeal of the Don't Ask, Don't Tell law enacted in 1993.

    Neil Giuliano (born 1956), openly gay mayor of Tempe, Arizona (1994-2004) and current President of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.

    Janet Jackson (born 1966), American singer, songwriter, and actress.Recognized as a long-term ally of the LGBT community, she received the GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Music Album for her Grammy Award-winning sixth studio album The Velvet Rope (1997), which spoke out against homophobia and embraced same-sex love. In 2005, Jackson received the Humanitarian Award from the Human Rights Campaign and AIDS Project Los Angeles in recognition of her involvement in raising funds for AIDS Charities and received the Vanguard Award at the 19th Annual GLAAD Media Awards (2008).

    Cyndi Lauper (born 1953), founder of the True Colors Fund charity which promotes equality for members of the LGBT community.

    Gavin Newsom (born 1967), heterosexual mayor of San Francisco, California who directed his office to issue wedding licenses to same-sex couples in February 2004. This process was halted the next month by the California Supreme Court.

    Bayard Rustin (1912-1987), openly gay civil rights activist, principal organizer of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom and advisor to Martin Luther King, Jr.; gay rights activist in later life.

    Ryan Sallans (born 1979), out transman and public speaker - travels around the country educating high school and college students on LGBT issues.

    Michelangelo Signorile (born 1960), gay American writer and a US and Canadian national talk radio host.

    A. Latham Staples (born 1977), founder and current president of the Empowering Spirits Foundation.

    Urvashi Vaid, (b. 1958, New Delhi, India) is an American activist who has worked for over 25 years promoting civil rights for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons.

    There's always another choice.

    Have you ever been discriminated against because of your sexual orientation?

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    Military

    Though the U.S. military explicitly prohibited homosexuality in the Articles of War of 1916, a ban wasn't enforced until World War II. By war's end, more than 4,000 of the 12 million men conscripted for the war effort were rejected for being gay. Even though lesbians were allowed to serve the in the war effort, however it was illegal to ask young women anything of sexual nature then.

    During Governor Bill Clinton's campaign in 1992, he promised to lift the ban on gays serving in the military. With his presidency came something close to the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." Not entirely the same. Gays were allowed to keep quiet, although the military could still investigate someone to find out if they were gay. This was known as the Military Personnel Eligibility Act of 1993.

    The US Army defines homosexual conduct as "a homosexual act, a statement by a soldier that demonstrates a propensity or intent to engage in homosexual acts, the solicitation of another to engage in homosexual act, or a homosexual marriage. Policies and attitudes toward gay and lesbian military personnel vary widely around the world. Some countries allow gay men, lesbians, and bisexual people to serve openly and have granted them the same rights and privileges as their heterosexual counterparts. Many countries neither ban nor support LGB service members. A few countries continue to ban homosexual personnel outright.

    Most Western military forces have removed policies excluding homosexual/lesbians.Today, 25 countries allow gays to openly serve in their armed forces, including the U.S.'s closest neighbor, Canada. Of the 26 countries that participate militarily in NATO, more than 20 permit openly gay, lesbian and bisexual people to serve. Of the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, two (United Kingdom and France) do so. China bans gay and lesbian people outright, Russia excludes all gay and lesbian people during peacetime but allows some gay men to serve in wartime, and the United States technically permits gay and lesbian people to serve, but only in secrecy and celibacy I'm sure you have heard of the Don't ask, Don't tell rule. Israel is the only Middle East country that allows openly LGB people to serve in the military.

    Homosexuality in the military has been highly politcal in the United States. it is not so in many countries. In other countries sexuality in these cultures is considered a more personal aspect of one's identity than it is in the United States.

    On March 18, 2010, U.S. President Obama announced that he wanted to put an end to the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy. In his first State of the Union address, he said that he would work to "finally repeal the law that denies gay Americans the right to serve the country they love because of who they are. A June 2009 Gallup poll showed that 69% of Americans support allowing gays and lesbians to serve in the military, repealing "Don't ask, don't tell" will take more than a declaration but it will take an act of Congress. Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, are presenting a proposal to repeal the ban in the first congressional hearing on the issue in 17 years. According to a Jan. 26 study by the Williams Institute at UCLA's School of Law, there are an estimated 66,000 lesbians, gays and bisexuals currently serving in the U.S. armed forces; for these soldiers, progress on a repeal is only the latest glimmer of hope in a long history of secrets.

    Debate Here! - but be nice...

    Do think being gay is a choice?

    Yes

    Yes

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      Is being Gay/Lesbian a choice?

      Some will use religion to say that being gay/lesbian is wrong. But isn't sinning a choice? When you steal a loaf of bread, you are deciding to steal. It is an act that is wrong. Why you are gay, are you choosing to be gay? Or are you born that way. If you parents tell you, the boy next door is a nice guy, I think you should marry him. Because someone else thinks that's the right person for you, are you going to feel the same? Are you going to have chemistry with that person? I think not. I think you can not control who makes you feel those sparks. If we could control who we love, dating would be so much easier.

      Science has not figured it out either.

      There are animals that display same gender preferance behavior also. Roy and Silo, two male chinstrap penguins at New York's Central Park Zoo have been inseparable for six years now. They display classic "couple" behavior-entwining of necks, mutual preening, flipper flapping, and all the rest. They also have sex, while ignoring potential female mates.

      No

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        • anonymous 5 years ago

          Absolutely not. Scientists and medical professionals have even discovered that it is genetic.

        • anonymous 5 years ago

          No, it's not a choice. I didn't choose to be gay any more than I chose to be white or female. I was born this way.

        • sousababy 5 years ago

          Not a choice, it's the way you are made (and there is NOTHING wrong with it).

        • anonymous 5 years ago

          being gay is most definitely not a choice!

        Gay Marriage is Made Legal Across the States!

        As of June 26th, 2015, gay marriage is now legal across the states! It is a big step in the LBGTQ movement and time to celebrate! President Obama gave a speech and crowds are gathered to celebrate.

        President Obama Speaks on Gay Marriage Becoming Legal

        Gay Marriage is Legal Across the United States

        Guestbook Comments

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            anonymous 5 years ago

            LOVE this lens!

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            sousababy 5 years ago

            It gives me some measure of hope that folks are voicing their opinions - I support the rights of gays and lesbians wholeheartedly - for aren't they really just human rights (and aren't we all deserving of equality - whether male, female, gay, straight, black, white and so on)?