History - B.C. to 1969
(The Pre Stonewall Years)

A Timeline of Events in Gay & Lesbian History

(Caption Reads: "It's a lesbian.")

Select A Period In Time

Pre 1900

1900-1919 ... 1920-1929 ... 1930-1939
1940-1949 ... 1950-1959 ... 1960-1969

1970 to Present

Circa 3000 B.C.

The first recorded evidence of homosexuality is found in Mesopotamia where artifacts depict men having sex with other men.


A New Hampshire Man is fined for "Putting On Women's Apparel".

May 27, 1895

Oscar Wilde is convicted of having sexual relations with male prostitutes and sentenced to 2 years hard labor.

He died on November 30, 1900 at age 44.


Brothers Ira & George Gershwin take over management of New York Cities Gay Lafayette Baths.  Ira was age 20.

May 16, 1919

Wladziu Valentino Liberace is born in West Allis, Wisconsin.  He passed away on February 4, 1987 at age 67 in Palm Springs.

June 10, 1922

Judy Garland is born as Francis Ethel Gumm in Grand Rapids, Minnesota.

Judy Garland

March 23, 1923

Police arrest the theatre owner, producer and and 12 actors at the Apollo Theatre in New York.  They are charged with presenting an obscene, indecent, immoral, and impure theatrical production.  All plead not guilty, pay bail and return to the theatre to give a matinee performance of "The God Vengeance". They would later be found guilty and given suspended sentences.

February 27, 1932

Elizabeth Taylor is born in London, England. She will later be quoted as saying that Hollywood would not exist if it were not for gay men!


Homosexual prisoners in NAZI war camps were marked with a colored cloth triangle to denote their offence or origin.    The usual triangle was about five centimeters across, but for homosexuals the triangle was larger so that it could be recognized from a distance.  The triangles were placed point down and stitched onto the left breast pocket of the jacket and coat and the outside right trouser leg.

March 25, 1947

Elton John is born in Middlesex, England.


J Edgar Hoover, FBI Chief, leads our nation into the McCarthy era.  Hoover, suspected to be a homosexual himself, targets homosexuals associated with the government.


The Mattachine Society is founded in Los Angeles by Harry Hay.  The society would be the first major gay organization in the United States.

October 15, 1951

"I Love Lucy" with Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz premieres on CBS Television.

Lucille Ball & Desi Arnaz

Select A Period In Time

Pre 1900

1900-1919 ... 1920-1929 ... 1930-1939
1940-1949 ... 1950-1959 ... 1960-1969

1970 to Present


The American Psychiatric Association adds homosexuality to its list of mental disorders.


President Eisenhower bans employment of Gays & Lesbians.

The Mattachine Society begins producing "ONE Magazine", a monthly periodical.  This continued for 15 years until publication ceased in 1968.

June 6, 1954

No doubt as a result of President Eisenhower's ban in 1953, HARVEY FIERSTEIN is born in Brooklyn, New York. Just 27 years later on October 16, 1981, his play "Torch Song Trilogy" will open on Broadway in New York City.

May 12, 1960

The Homosexual Law Reform Society (HLRS) held its first public meeting at Caxton Hall in Central London.  Over 1000 people attended.


Jack Campbell opens a clean, licensed health club geared towards gay men in Cleveland, Ohio.  He would open several more clubs in years to follow.  Most featured palm-filled atriums and gurgling fountains.


In September, The first issue of "The Advocate" sells out all 300 12-page copies.

England & Wales decriminalize private consensual sex between men over 21.  The provisions do not extend to Scotland or Northern Ireland where all gay male sex continues to be illegal.


Reverend Troy Perry starts the Metropolitan Community Church (MCC) in Los Angeles with a group of about 12 people.

In Houston Texas, several lesbians are arrested on charges of cross-dressing because they were wearing fly-front pants.

June 28, 1969

At the Stonewall Inn on Christopher Street around 3am, the Stonewall Riots begin in New York City's Greenwich Village.   The event is not reported in TIME & Newsweek until October of 1969.

Click here to read the news article that appeared in the July 6, 1969 "New York Daily News".

stonewallinn.jpg (13124 bytes)

October 1969

Emmett Jewell opens The Town House on University Avenue in St. Paul, Minnesota.  It was one of the first gay bars in the Twin Cities and still operates today.  The structure was originally built in 1939 as the Tip Top Cafe.

December 1969

The Gay Activists Alliance (GAA) is founded.  It would soon become the largest most visible gay organization in New York City.

"It's time we did something to assert ourselves. After all, we do comprise 10% of the population."
Allen Ginsberg inspecting the damage after the Stonewall Riots, 1969

Continue to the "Post Stonewall Era", 1970 to Present...

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Information compiled from a personal collection of books, newspaper clippings, magazine articles (including "The Advocate" and "Out") and various online resources including the PBS web site.  Additional information provided by friends and local members of the Twin Cities GLBT Community.  Every effort has been made to verify the accuracy of information.

If you have an item to submit (or a correction to suggest), please submit it via my Contact Form!

My Sites: www.drakkar91.com * www.yesteryearmemories.us * www.vjchris.com  2011 Christopher Clay