Historians agree that there is evidence of homosexual activity and same-sex love spread throughout every documented culture. To this day in America, the scale leans more towards persecution, as people who identify as LGBTQ+ have struggled to gain and maintain an equal foothold in society. While there are some great strides that have been made and battles won, there is still much more work to be done in this arena.
While there were small groups promoting the LGBTQ+ agenda in the early 1900s, they did so while in hiding and were often persecuted due to the draconian sodomy laws in place across America at that time. Some of the biggest, most sweeping changes came after the Stonewall Riots, which happened in New York City in 1969. The Stonewall Inn was a bar in Greenwich Village, which was mob-run and one of the few places in the city at the time where people could be “out”. There were regular police raids on the Stonewall Inn and similar clubs. On June 28, 1969, the police raid turned into a riot as the patrons of the club began actively resisting the police; the riot lasted for three days.
Following the Stonewall Riots, new gay liberation organizations were created. Born out of this angst was the Gay Liberation Front and the Gay Activists Alliance. A year after the incident at Stonewall, the first gay pride parade was held on June 28, 1970 in New York City, this parade has taken place annually every year since to commemorate the spontaneous demonstrations on Christopher Street that stoked the fires of gay liberation.
The fight for LGBTQ+ rights was not an easy road and remains so to this day. For years, activists fought to have a platform. Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, both trans activists, co-founded Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries, an organization that provided housing and other services to homeless LGBTQ youth in New York City. Harvey Milk was an activist and politician in San Francisco who pushed legislation to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation in employment, housing and public accommodations. Today, there are also many activists in popular culture who work to normalize homosexuality in the United States and worldwide, including Laverne Cox, the first trans person to be nominated for an Emmy, and Michael Sam, the first openly gay football player to be drafted to an NFL team in 2014.