History of the Gay and Lesbian Rights Movement

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THE HOMOPHILE YEARS (1940s-60s – WWII, Cold War, McCarthyism): 1940s · Growth in the urban subculture of gay men and lesbians. · Government and police harassment, persecution, and investigation of gays. 1950s-1960s · The homophile movement remained small and relatively marginalized. End of 1960s · Rise of activism + “Gay is good” · Reformist goals: ü decriminalization of homosexual acts, ü equal treatment and equal rights under the law, ü dissemination of accurate, ü “unbiased” information about homosexuality. · Achievements: ü right to publish gay and lesbian magazines, ü first employment discrimination cases won, ü constraints on police harassment, ü dialogue opened in the scientific and religious communities, ü media visibility, ü organizational impulse, ü denunciation of how gays and lesbians are a mistreated, persecuted minority. · Problems: Society’s hostility against homosexuals and the penalties attached to exposure. STONEWALL AND THE EMERGENCE OF RADICAL GAY LIBERATION (1969-e1970s): June 1969 · Stonewall Riot ð Symbol of a new militance. Result: a radical mass movement. Early 1970s · Gay Liberation Front (GLF): Radical gay and lesbian activism. · Influences: civil rights movement, Black Power movement, white student movement, antiwar movement, and feminism. · Goals: ü Attack of the systemic oppression of gays and lesbians. ü Analysis of gay oppression and sexism. ü Making common cause with “all the oppressed” and commitment to a larger project of political change. ü Public demonstrations and emphasis on visibility. · Achievements: ü New rhetoric of pride and affirmation. ü Political, social, and cultural organizations that helped build a movement and a community. ü Public affirmation of homosexual identity (coming out in public). · Problems: Employment discrimination, arrests, political conservatism, economic entrenchment, and lack of attention to sexism and racism. A GAY RIGHTS MOVEMENT (1970s): · Reformative politics: Rather than try to destroy the old in order to build something new, they sought recognition and inclusion in American society. ü Gay Activist Alliance (GAA). ü From liberation to activism. · Emphasis on coming out and gay rights. They expected and demanded acceptance for who they were. · Militant and angry protests. · Language of pride and self-affirmation; rejection of mainstream cultural views of homosexuality. · Single-issue organizations, completely gay-focused, with clearly specified structures and processes. · Goals: ending job discrimination, media invisibility, church and military discrimination. · Achievements: ü 1973 ð the American Psychiatric Association eliminates homosexuality from its list of mental disorders. ü less discrimination and harassment, ü greater visibility, ü new economic opportunities for gay-oriented businesses (bars, bathhouses, discos, restaurants, etc.

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