June is Pride month – a time when we celebrate LGBTQ+ communities around the world, recognize their history and achievements and take pride in who we are. It’s the perfect time to look back at how far we’ve come in the journey towards equality – and raise awareness about issues affecting the LGBTQ+ community today.
Pride is all about love and acceptance, and it’s usually celebrated with marches, parades, rainbow flags, and outfits. But it’s also important to understand the challenges that the LGBTQ+ community faces, and the long battle that is still underway, for the right to simply be.
This year, to celebrate pride month, we’ve put together a timeline highlighting the incredible people fighting for LGBTQ+ rights (past and present), as well as key dates and events that have increased awareness, understanding and equality in the last hundred years.
Key LGBTQ+ community highlights
Full LGBTQ+ timeline of events
1928: The Well of Loneliness by Radclyffe Hall is published. For decades it remains the best-known lesbian novel in English.
1951: Roberta Cowell becomes the first known British trans woman to undergo gender confirmation surgery and have her birth certificate changed.
1952: Christine Jorgensen is the first American to speak about her experience of being transgender.
1962: Illinois becomes the first US state to decriminalize homosexuality.
1967: In the UK, the Sexual Offences Act 1967 decriminalizes private homosexual relationships between men over the age of 21.
1969: Police raid New York City’s Stonewall Inn. The ensuing riots mark the birth of the LGBTQ+ movement.
1970: Brenda Howard (known as ‘The Mother of Pride’) organizes the first Pride parade in New York on 27th June.
1972: In the UK, London’s first Pride parade attracts 2,000 participants.
1977: Harvey Milk becomes the first openly gay person to be elected to public office in California.
1978: American artist Gilbert Baker designs Pride’s iconic rainbow flag. He refuses to trademark it, saying that it belongs to everyone. It’s first flown on Gay Pride Day in San Francisco on 25th June.
1981: Professional tennis player and Grand Slam champion Billie Jean King is outed as a lesbian. She becomes the first openly gay athlete.
1992: The World Health Organization no longer classifies same-sex attraction as a mental illness.
1997: Ellen Degeneres and her TV character Ellen Morgan come out, and Ellen becomes the first TV show to feature a gay or lesbian lead character.
1999: Trans Day of Remembrance (TDOR) is founded in the US, in memory of Rita Hesler, a transgender woman who was murdered in 1988. It takes place every year on 20th of November to memorialize those whose lives were lost to violence, and to increase awareness of issues faced by the trans community.
2000: The UK government lifts the ban on lesbians, gay men, and bi people serving in the armed forces.
2000: Vermont becomes the first state in the US to recognize civil unions between same-sex couples.
2001: In the UK, the age of consent for gay men is lowered to 16 (it was lowered from 21 to 18 in 1994), bringing it in line with the age of consent for straight people.
2002: In the UK, equal rights are granted to same-sex couples applying to adopt children.
2003: Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations become law in the UK. It is now illegal to discriminate against lesbians, gays, and bi people at work.
2003: The US Supreme Court decriminalizes homosexual relationships.
2004: Massachusetts becomes the first US state to legally recognize same-sex marriage.
2004: In the UK, the Civil Partnership Act 2004 is passed, giving same-sex couples the same rights and responsibilities as married straight couples.
2004: The Gender Recognition Act 2004 is passed in the UK. This allows trans people to have a new birth certificate, giving legal confirmation of their gender.
2007: In the UK, The Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2007 legally protects people from discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation.
2008: In the UK, The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008 recognizes same-sex couples as the legal parents of children conceived through the use of donated sperm, eggs, or embryos.
2009: President Obama signs the Matthew Shepard Act into law. This expands on existing hate-crime law to include crimes motivated by a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. It’s the first federal law in the US to include legal protections for transgender people.
2011: Ruth Davidson is elected to lead the Scottish Conservative Party. She is the first openly gay leader of any mainstream UK political party.
2011: The US military lifts its ban on openly gay or lesbian service people.
2012: In the UK, the Protection of Freedoms Act allows historic convictions relating to consensual homosexual relationships between men to be removed from criminal records.
2012: Homophobic bullying in schools is introduced into Ofsted’s school inspection framework in the UK.
2013: The US federally recognizes same-sex marriages, and extends federal benefits to couples in states that allow same-sex marriage. On the same day, California becomes the 13th state where same-sex couples can marry.
2014: In the UK, the Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Act 2013 comes into force. The first same-sex marriages in England and Wales take place on 29th March.
2015: The US Supreme Court legalizes same-sex marriage in all 50 states.
2015: Ireland votes to legalize same-sex marriages, and becomes the first country in the world to do so by a referendum.
2015: Prince William appears on the cover of gay magazine ‘Attitude’, and says that no one should be bullied as a result of their sexuality.
2019: In the UK, a new curriculum is introduced in schools. Lessons must now include acknowledgment of LGBTQ+ rights and protect the well-being of LGBTQ+ children.
2021: The US federal government now recognizes a third gender option on passports and other identity documents.
2022: UK soccer player Jake Daniels comes out as gay.
2022: Trans actress Laverne Cox has Mattel’s first-ever transgender Barbie doll made in her image.
LGBTQ+ Community Resources
Here are some links for more information and support:
- Boys and Girls Club of America: Empower LGBTQ+ youth through inclusive practices
- The Trevor Project: Providing information & support to LGBTQ+ young people 24/7
- PFLAG: An organization for LGBTQ+ people, their parents, families, and allies.
- GLAAD: LGBTQ+ resource list