In Honor of National Coming Out Day A Short History of LGBTQ life in America

Ever since the 17th century, the American government has had its bigoted finger on the pulse of every Christian homophobe from Sea to Shining Sea. With Christian mores came many legal restrictions and after the American Revolution, same-sex relationships had become a capital offense—a crime deserving of death.

As early as the turn of the 20th century, a handful of grassroots homosexual advocacy groups popped up, but the government quickly squashed them. Then, after WWI, a soldier by the name of Henry Gerber published a few issues of the first gay publication, Friendship and Freedom.

By the mid-twentieth century, Alfred Kinsey had published his scientific research on homosexuality, Sexual Behavior in the Human Male. In his research he discovered that 10% of males had homosexual experiences at some point in their lives, which led to more public discussion and mainstream publications of homosexuality.

Unfortunately, 200 years later, homosexuality was still illegal. Innocent men were being beaten to death or hauled off to jail for nothing more than engaging in a sexual relationship with someone. They were given shock treatment and endless sessions of re-programming to ‘get the gay out.’ In short, our own government tortured innocent people because of their innate sexual preference.

With the civil rights and feminist movements of the late 60s came also a liberation philosophy around sexuality in general. By 1962 homosexuality was decriminalized in Illinois. After a while, the same happened on state-by-state basis. The LGBT community became a little bit more relaxed, which infuriated those who still stood by (and hid their rabid homophobia behind) the antiquated notion that homosexuality was a sin. This hit a boiling point in 1969 with the Stonewall Riots.

As a result of the riots, the Gay Liberation Front (GLF) and the Gay Activists Alliance (GAA) used art to spread their liberation philosophy. Gay publications like “The Gay Manifesto” and “The Politics of Being Queer” popped up and the movement spread not only across the country, but all over the world.  

Half a million people marched on Washington for lesbian and gay rights in 1987. It was so massive and such an inspiration that for months the momentum of activism continued and in that passion the idea for a national day to celebrate coming out was born. It was decided that the day would be celebrated on the anniversary of the march on Washington and every year since, on October 11, which is National Coming Out Day, we honor those who wish to live their own truth openly.

Even though many strides have been made for the gays and lesbians, the same cannot be said for transgender people. Research shows that while one out of every two Americans knows someone who is homosexual, transgender folks do not have nearly that kind of support system. 

Coming out still matters and if you know or love someone who is of the LGBTQ community, your support matters and it is to be commended.

So to every single lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, transitioned or pansexual human being out there, we honor you and hope that you have the support and love from friends and family members to live in your own truth comfortably. Your bravery is an inspiration. 

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