The HyperTexts

Coming Out: a Timeline/Chronology of notable poets, writers, songwriters and other artists who "came out" either publicly or in their work ...

Note: Some of the dates below are approximate. Much of the information was taken from public websites; we do not claim anything here to be "original" other than a few brief observations and interjections. To make it easier to find the names of  writers, artists and other figures, we have bolded them.

Things that may surprise you, and a few interesting questions that will be answered in due course:

Some of the most famous writers of the past wrote homoerotic works, including Sappho, Catullus, Virgil, Michelangelo, Erasmus and Shakespeare.
The great artist/sculptor/poet Michelangelo wrote hundreds of love poems to a man, perhaps while painting the Sistine Chapel ceiling for Pope Sixtus IV.
Abraham Lincoln wrote what appears to be the first American poem about a gay marriage; this bawdy poem was said to have been more popular than the Bible in parts of Illinois!
Lincoln was the beloved subject of perhaps the greatest poem by perhaps America's greatest poet, who was gay.
The Ottoman Empire, predominately Muslim, decriminalized homosexuality more than a hundred years before the United States.
Slavery had its "underground railroad." England's gay subculture had its "underground" poets in the form of a clandestine circle known as the Uranians.
Can you name the first famous singer to "come out of the closet"? A hint: she came out in 1970, two years before David Bowie.
Nonetheless, David Bowie gets our vote as the most influential figure from rock's early days to come out publicly.
Which "wild" poet, playwright, novelist and notorious wit once did hard time in prison because he was gay?
Who coined the phrase "the love that dare not speak its name" and to whom did he address it?

750 BC: Homer in the Iliad portrays Achilles and Patroclus as the closest of bosom companions. Achilles is the most dominant of the warriors in the Trojan War, while Patroclus performs duties such as cooking, feeding and grooming the horses. Are they a couple? The relationship between Achilles and Patroclus was later portrayed as a same-sex love affair in the works of Aeschylus, Plato and Aeschines.

600 BC: Sappho of Lesbos becomes famous for her erotic poetry, giving us the terms "lesbian" and "sapphic." She is called the "Tenth Muse" by her peers: the other nine muses were goddesses!

385 BC: Plato publishes his Symposium in which Phaedrus, Eryixmachus, Aristophanes and other Greek intellectuals argue that love between males is the highest form, while sex with women is lustful and utilitarian. Socrates is attracted to men, but demonstrates remarkable self-control when seduced by the beautiful Alcibiades!

80 BC: The surviving epigrams of Catullus are addressed to a male lover or object of desire.

40 BC: Virgil's Eclogues include notable examples of homoerotic Latin literature.

(All dates from this point forward are AD)

54: Nero becomes Emperor of Rome, then marries two men, Pythagoras and Sporus, in legal ceremonies; Sporus is accorded the regalia worn by the wives of the Caesars. Juvenal and Martial note that male couples are having traditional marriage ceremonies.

400: Rome outlaws homosexual sex. Nonnus's Dionysiaca is the last known piece of literature for nearly 1,000 years to celebrate homosexual passion.

1321: Dante's Inferno condemns sodomites to the seventh circle of hell.

1483: During the Spanish Inquisition homosexuals are tortured, stoned, castrated and burned. More than 1,600 people are prosecuted for sodomy.

1492: Columbus discovers the new world. Desiderius Erasmus writes a series of love letters to a fellow monk at a monastery in the Netherlands.

1500: The Spanish invader Vasco Núñez de Balboa orders Native American homosexuals to be eaten alive by dogs. 

1532: The Holy Roman Empire makes sodomy punishable by death. Nevertheless, Michelangelo begins writing over 300 love poems dedicated to Tomasso dei Cavalieri.

1533: King Henry VIII (such a lovely lad!) passes the Buggery Act, which makes anal intercourse punishable by death throughout England. At the same time, he marries Anne Boleyn in defiance of Rome, which makes him an adulterer. He would later behead his new wife (such a lovely lad!).

1598: Around this time William Shakespeare is writing love poems to a "fair youth" and a "dark lady." He writes 126 sonnets to the young man, only 28 to the woman.  

1757: The birth of the English poet William Blake, who would become an early advocate of racial tolerance, equality of the sexes, and free love. When the Beatles met Bob Dylan for the first time and things started off a bit slow and uncomfortable, Allen Ginsberg broke the ice by bringing up Blake and his poetry.

1791: The novel Dream of the Red Chamber by Cao Xueqin is published in China. It includes an openly bisexual character as well as an account of gay-bashing. The birth of Anne Lister, an Englishwoman who has been called the first modern lesbian. She kept detailed diaries of her relationships, but used a secret code based on algebra and ancient Greek. The code was finally cracked in 1980: "I love and only love the fairer sex and thus beloved by them in turn, my heart revolts from any love but theirs."

1814: The term "crime against nature" first appears in the in the US criminal code.

1819: The birth of Walt Whitman, not only America's greatest gay poet, but perhaps its greatest poet, period, and the one who first called for tolerance and free love, echoing William Blake. Later in life, Whitman would model his crypt after Blake's engraving "Death's Door." 

1829: Around age 20, Abraham Lincoln wrote what appears to be the first American poem about a gay marriage; this bawdy poem was said to have been more popular than the Bible in parts of Illinois!

1844: The birth of the English poet Gerard Manley Hopkins. Hopkins is notable for his eclectic style and use of "sprung rhythm." Virtually unknown during his lifetime, Hopkins would become famous when his poems were published after his death by his friend the British poet laureate Robert Bridges. The birth of Paul Verlaine, a French poet who would have a passionate, turbulent relationship with Arthur Rimbaud.

1854: The birth of Oscar Wilde, an Anglo-Irish poet, playwright, novelist, wit and "quintessential aesthete." The birth of the French poet Arthur Rimbaud, a "bad boy" poet who would give up writing to become a slave trader and gun runner!

1855: Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass is published. It is now generally accepted that Whitman was gay and that his love poems were written with males in mind. After Oscar Wilde visited the older poet in 1882, he boasted to his friend George Ives: "I have the kiss of Walt Whitman still on my lips." It seems likely they did more than kiss, because "Oscar desperately wanted to meet Walt Whitman, whom he and many others considered to be America’s greatest living poet …Whitman’s poetry spoke of the potency of friendship and love between men, particularly between working-class men, and positively oozed homoeroticism. Indeed, the ‘Calamus’ section of Whitman’s great poetic cycle Leaves of Grass was so intensely homoerotic that it gave rise to the short-lived term ‘calamite’ to denote a man who loved men." An account of the meeting by John Marshall Stoddart mentions Whitman's hand on Wilde's knee, the quaffing of elderberry wine, the two talking of "nothing but pretty boys" and "how insipid was the love of women," followed by Whitman's suggestion that Stoddart leave the couple alone for "two to three hours" so they could repair to Whitman's "den" and get on a "thee and thou" basis.

1857: The French "decadence" movement develops after Théophile Gautier and Charles Baudelaire used the word to represent a rejection of what they considered banal "progress." Baudelaire referred to himself as decadent in his 1857 edition of Les Fleurs du Mal. He would later use the term "decadence" to include the subversion of traditional standards in pursuit of full, sensual expression. Other notable writers associated with the decadents include Paul Verlaine, Tristan Corbière, Theodore Hannon, Stéphane Mallarmé, Joris-Karl Huysmans, Arthur Symons (“the blond angel”), Oscar Wilde, Ernest Dowson and Lionel Johnson.

1858: The Ottoman Empire decriminalizes homosexuality (more than one hundred years before any US state). William Johnson Cory publishes Ionica, which is considered to be the first work of the "underground" English poets known as the Uranians. According to Michael Matthew Kaylor the three major Uranian writers were Gerard Manley Hopkins, Walter Pater and Oscar Wilde. Other members of the more immediate circle included Lord Alfred Douglas, Montague Summers, John Francis Bloxam, Charles Kains Jackson, John Gambril Nicholson, E. E. Bradford, John Addington Symonds, Edmund John, John Moray Stuart-Young, Charles Edward Sayle, Fabian S. Woodley and several pseudonymous authors such as Philebus (John Leslie Barford) and A. Newman (Francis Edwin Murray). Other writers often associated with the Uranians include Algernon Charles Swinburne, George Ives, Rennell Rodd, the "flamboyantly eccentric" novelist Frederick Rolfe (also known as Baron Corvo), Edward Carpenter, and the "obscure but prophetic" poet-printer Ralph Chubb. Another poet, Digby Dolben, who drowned at age 19, appears to have been influenced by Cory and left poems later published by his distant relative Robert Bridges, the English Poet Laureate who also published the poems of Hopkins. Bridges did not, however, appear to be a Uranian himself and was very critical of Cory in regard to Dolben's work.

1859: The birth of the English poet A. E. Housman.

1865: After the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, the poet Walt Whitman wrote two of his best-known poems as elegies and tributes: "O Captain! My Captain!" and "When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd." The latter has been called  the greatest American poem, by the greatest American poet.

1867: Karl Heinrich Ulrichs becomes the first self-proclaimed homosexual to speak out publicly for homosexual rights when he urges German jurists to repeal anti-homosexual laws.

1869: The term "homosexuality" appears in print for the first time in a German-Hungarian pamphlet written by Karl-Maria Kertbeny.

1870: Joseph and His Friend: A Story of Pennsylvania is published, possibly the first American novel about a homosexual relationship.

1879: The birth of the English writer E. M. Forster, an English novelist, short story writer, essayist and librettist. He would be nominated for a Nobel Prize a remarkable 16 times! While Forster didn't "come out" publicly, he did write what appears to be the first English novel about a same-sex love affair (see the entry for 1913).

1882: The birth of the English writer Virginia Woolf, who would have an affair with another female writer of note, Vita Sackville-West.

1891: Lord Alfred Douglas meets Oscar Wilde; although Wilde was married with two sons, they soon begin an affair.

1892: The birth of the American poet and playwright Edna St. Vincent Millay, who was openly bisexual and had several lesbian relationships in high school and college. Lord Alfred Douglas's "Two Loves," which would be used against Oscar Wilde at the latter's trial in 1895, ends with the famous line that refers to homosexuality as "the love that dare not speak its name," a quote often incorrectly attributed to Wilde.

1894: The Robert Hichens novel The Green Carnation is published. Said to be a roman à clef based on the relationship of Oscar Wilde and Lord Alfred Douglas, it would be one of the texts used against Wilde during his 1895 trial.

1895: Oscar Wilde is tried for "gross indecency" and sentenced to two years hard labor in Reading Gaol. He would write a poem titled "The Ballad of Reading Gaol."

1896: While in prison, Oscar Wilde writes Lord Alfred Douglas a long letter titled De Profundis ("From the Depths"). Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld publishes a pamphlet, Sappho and Socrates, on homosexual love (under the pseudonym Th. Ramien). The gay rights movement began in late 19th-century Germany when courageous activists condemned sodomy laws. Hirschfeld was a driving force behind the movement. He developed scientific theories explaining homosexuality, arguing that because it was a natural condition, homosexuality merited research, not punishment. He co-founded early rights organizations, and founded the Institute for Sexual Research, which became world-renowned. Because of his work, Hirschfeld was labeled "the most dangerous Jew in Germany." But despite attacks, he continued his fight until Nazis destroyed his Institute in 1933. Hirschfeld died in exile two years later.

1897: Upon his release from prison, Oscar Wilde leaves England, never to return. He reunites with Lord Alfred Douglas in Rouen and they live together briefly in Naples. Magnus Hirschfeld founds the Scientific Humanitarian Committee with the publisher Max Spohr, the lawyer Eduard Oberg, and the writer Franz Joseph von Bülow. The group aims to undertake research to defend the rights of homosexuals and to repeal Paragraph 175, the section of the German penal code that criminalized homosexuality. Under Hirschfeld's leadership, the SHC gathered over 5,000 signatures from prominent Germans on a petition to overturn Paragraph 175. Signatories included Albert Einstein, Hermann Hesse, Käthe Kollwitz, Thomas Mann, Heinrich Mann, Rainer Maria Rilke, August Bebel, Max Brod, Karl Kautsky, Stefan Zweig, Gerhart Hauptmann, Martin Buber, Richard von Krafft-Ebing and Eduard Bernstein.

1900: Oscar Wilde dies in exile.

1901: E. M. Forster begins work on his first novel, A Room with a View.

1902: The birth of the African-American poet Langston Hughes.

1906: Imre, possibly the first openly gay American novel with a happy ending, is published.

1907: The birth of the English poet W. H. Auden.

1910: Emma Goldman was "the first and only woman, indeed the first and only American, to take up the defense of homosexual love before the general public." E. M. Forster publishes the novel Howards End. He is praised for his "feminine brilliance of perception." Little did they know at the time! 

1911: The birth of the American playwright Tennessee Williams.

1912: Thomas Mann, on holiday with his wife in Venice, falls in love with Wladyslaw Moes, a ten-year-old Polish aristocrat nicknamed Adzio.

1913: E. M. Forster begins writing Maurice, a novel about same-sex love in early twentieth-century England. The novel was inspired by the relationship between his friend the poet Edward Carpenter and his partner, George Merrill. Forster believes the novel is unpublishable during his lifetime; it would be published after his death (see the entry for 1971).

1919: Different From the Others, one of the first explicitly gay films, is released. Magnus Hirschfeld has a cameo in the film and partially funded its production.

1920: Perhaps the most famous gay-oriented Harlem club of the "roaring twenties" era was Harry Hansberry's Clam House, a narrow, smoky speakeasy on 133rd Street. The Clam House featured Gladys Bentley, a 250-pound, masculine, dark-skinned lesbian, who performed all night long in a white tuxedo and top hat. (Later in her career, she was sometimes accompanied by a chorus of drag queens.) Bentley, a talented pianist with a magnificent, growling voice, was celebrated for inventing obscene lyrics to popular contemporary melodies. The poet Langston Hughes described her thusly: "For two or three amazing years, Miss Bentley sat, and played piano all night long … with scarcely a break between the notes, sliding from one song to another, with a powerful and continuous underbeat of jungle rhythm. Miss Bentley was an amazing exhibition of musical energy—a large, dark, masculine lady, whose feet pounded the floor while her fingers pounded the keyboard—a perfect piece of African sculpture, animated by her own rhythm." Eslanda Robeson, the wife of singer Paul Robeson, gushed to a friend: "Gladys Bentley is grand. I’ve heard her three nights, and will never be the same!" Harold Jackman wrote to his friend the poet Countee Cullen: "When Gladys sings 'St. James Infirmary,' it makes you weep your heart out."

1923: Elsa Gidlow, a lesbian born in England, published the first volume of openly lesbian love poetry in the United States, On A Grey Thread.

1924: The Society for Human Rights is founded by Henry Gerber in Chicago. It is the first documented gay rights organization. E. M. Forster writes A Passage to India.

1926: The speakeasy song "Sissy Blues" by Ma Rainey complains about a husband’s infidelity with a homosexual named Miss Kate. The birth of the American poet Allen Ginsberg, who would become the best-known of the Beat poets, many of whom were gay or bisexual. It has been said that the Beatles spelled their band's name with an "a" because of the Beats.

1927: The song "Foolish Man Blues" by the great blues singer Bessie Smith has lines like: "There's two things got me puzzled, / there's two things I don't understand, / that's a mannish acting woman / and a lisping, swishing, womanish-acting man." Bessie Smith, nicknamed the Empress of the Blues, became the highest-paid black entertainer of her day. She headed her own shows, which sometimes featured as many as 40 performers, and she toured in a custom-built railroad car. Her marriage was stormy with infidelity on both sides, including numerous female lovers for Bessie.

1928: The Well of Loneliness by Radclyffe Hall is published in the UK and later in the United States. The book "roots lesbianism as solidly in English country life as a fox hunt or a mansion." It sparks great legal controversy and brings the topic of homosexuality to public conversation. The birth of Andy Warhol, who would be a leading figure of pop art and the coming sexual revolutions. Orlando, a novel by Virginia Woolf, features a sex-changing poet inspired by her lover, Vita-Sackville-West.

1930: The song "Boy in the Boat" by George Hanna counsels tolerance: "When you see two women walking hand in hand, / just shake your head and try to understand."

1931: Mädchen in Uniform, one of the first explicitly lesbian films and the first pro-lesbian film, is released.

1933: The Nazis ban homosexual groups, send homosexuals to concentration camps, and destroy Magnus Hirschfeld's Institute for Sexual Research. Kurt Hiller, the Institute's main organizer, is sent to a concentration camp. Around 20,000 of its books and journals, and 5,000 images, are destroyed.

1935: "Sissy Man Blues" implores "Lord, if you can't send me no woman, / please send me some sissy man." It was recorded by Kokomo Arnold, Josh White (as Pinewood Tom), George Noble and Connie McLean's Rhythm Boys.

1939: Frances V. Rummell published Diana: A Strange Autobiography; it was the first explicitly lesbian autobiography in which two women end up happily together. This autobiography was published with a note saying, "The publishers wish it expressly understood that this is a true story, the first of its kind ever offered to the general reading public."

1945: WWII ends and with it, the Holocaust. It has been estimated that 3,000 to 9,000 homosexuals died in Nazi concentration and death camps, while 2,000 to 6,000 homosexual survivors were required to serve out the full term of their sentences under Paragraph 175. The first gay bar in post-World-War-II Berlin opened in the summer of 1945, and the first drag ball took place in American sector of West Berlin in the fall of 1945.

1947: Vice Versa, the first North American lesbian publication, is written and self-published by Lisa Ben (real name Edith Eyde) in Los Angeles. Alfred Charles Kinsey, an American biologist, professor of entomology and zoology, and sexologist, founds the Institute for Sex Research at Indiana University, now known as the Kinsey Institute. He is best known for writing Sexual Behavior in the Human Male (1948) and Sexual Behavior in the Human Female (1953), known together as the Kinsey Reports. Kinsey’s research has influenced social and cultural values in the US and internationally. One gay person noted that Kinsey's work "stopped gay people being way over there … and people realized we are more common than they thought. It definitely caused waves."

1949: E. M. Forster declines a knighthood.

1951: Henry "Harry" Hay, Jr. founds the Mattachine Society, the first sustained gay rights group in the United States, as well as the Radical Faeries, a loosely-affiliated gay spiritual movement. Hay has been described as "the father of gay liberation."

1952: Spring Fire, the first lesbian paperback novel, and the beginning of the lesbian pulp fiction genre, was published in 1952 and sold 1.5 million copies. It was written by lesbian Marijane Meaker under the false name Vin Packer. The New York Daily News carries a front-page story (under the headline “Ex-GI Becomes Blonde Bombshell”) announcing that Christine Jorgensen had become the recipient of the first sex change operation. (However, the claim was inaccurate, as this type of surgery had previously been performed by pioneering German doctors in the late 1920s and early 1930s.) Jorgensen became an instant celebrity and used the platform of fame to advocate for transgender people; she became known for her directness and polished wit. She also worked as an actress and nightclub entertainer, and recorded several songs.

1954: Mathematical and computer genius Alan Turing commits suicide by cyanide poisoning, 18 months after being given a choice between two years in prison or estrogen injections (chemical castration) as a punishment for homosexuality. A succession of well-known men, including Lord Montagu, Michael Pitt-Rivers and Peter Wildeblood, are convicted of homosexual offences as British police pursued a McCarthy-like purge of Society homosexuals. Arcadie, the first homosexual group in France, is formed.

1955: The Daughters of Bilitis (DOB) was founded in San Francisco by four lesbian couples (including Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon) and was the first national lesbian political and social organization in the United States. The group's name came from "Songs of Bilitis," a lesbian-themed song cycle by French poet Pierre Louÿs, which described the fictional Bilitis as a resident of the Isle of Lesbos alongside Sappho. Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon would later become the first same-sex couple to be married in the United States, in 2004.

1958: The births of Michael Jackson, Prince Rogers Nelson and Madonna. According to the LGBT magazine The Advocate, Madonna is the greatest "gay icon." The Homosexual Law Reform Society is founded in the United Kingdom. Barbara Gittings founds the New York chapter of Daughters of Bilitis. The United States Supreme Court rules in favor of the First Amendment rights of a gay and lesbian magazine, marking the first time the United States Supreme Court had ruled on a case involving homosexuality.

1959: ITV, at the time the UK's only national commercial broadcaster, broadcasts the first gay drama, South, starring Peter Wyngarde. The first homosexual uprising in the USA occurs at Cooper's Doughnuts in Los Angeles; rioters were arrested by the LAPD.
1960: According to Lou Reed, his parents subjected him to electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) because he was gay: "They put the thing down your throat so you don't swallow your tongue, and they put electrodes on your head. That's what was recommended in Rockland County then to discourage homosexual feelings. The effect is that you lose your memory and become a vegetable. You can't read a book because you get to page 17 and have to go right back to page one again."

1961: The Vatican declares that anyone who is "affected by the perverse inclination" towards homosexuality should not be allowed to take religious vows or be ordained within the Roman Catholic Church. The Rejected, the first documentary on homosexuality, is broadcast by KQED TV in San Francisco. José Sarria becomes the first openly gay candidate for public office in the United States when he runs for the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. Illinois becomes the first U.S. state to remove sodomy law from its criminal code through passage of the American Law Institute's Model Penal Code. (Hallelujah, it's been a long time coming, 100 years after the Ottoman Empire and still 49 states to go!) While the adopted code did not penalize private sexual relations, it criminalized acts of "Open Lewdness."

1962: Another Country by James Baldwin has been described as "One of the greatest American novels of the postwar period, full of passionate rhetoric and fury at social injustice. Reading it is not a comfortable experience. The reader is wrong-footed by what happens at the end of the first section, and indeed never fully recovers from it. At the book’s heart is one of the happiest portrayals of a gay male couple that you’ll find in any novel before the gay liberation period." 

1964: Lou Reed and John Cale form an obscure New York City band called the Primitives, which soon changes its name to The Velvet Underground. The group takes its new name from the title of a book by Michael Leigh about the secret sexual subculture of the early 1960s. The group's first paying gig is $75 for a high school show. The band's fortunes begin to improve when Andy Warhol becomes its manager. The first photograph of lesbians on the cover of lesbian magazine The Ladder, showing two women from the back, on a beach looking out to sea.

1966: The first lesbian to appear on the cover of the lesbian magazine The Ladder with her face showing was Lilli Vincenz. A coalition of Homosexual organizations organized demonstrations for Armed Forces Day to protest the exclusion of LGBT from the U.S. armed services. The Los Angeles group held a 15-car motorcade, which has been identified as the nation's first gay pride parade.

1967: The British Parliament decriminalizes homosexuality, sorta. The Sexual Offences Act 1967 decriminalized homosexual acts between two men over 21 years of age in private in England and Wales; it did not apply to Scotland, Northern Ireland or the Channel Islands. The Oscar Wilde Bookshop, the world's first homosexual-oriented bookstore, opens in New York City. The Student Homophile League at Columbia University is the first institutionally recognized gay student group in the United States.

1969: The Velvet Underground record the song "Candy Says" about Candy Darling, a cross-dresser. The Beatles record "Get Back" with lines like "Sweet Loretta Martin thought she was a woman / but she was another man." Police raid the Stonewall Inn in New York City. Protests and demonstrations begin, and this becomes a spark for the gay civil rights movement in the United States. Paragraph 175 is eased in West Germany. Bill C-150 is passed, decriminalizing homosexuality in Canada. Pierre Trudeau, the Prime Minister of Canada, is quoted as having said: "The state has no place in the bedrooms of the nation." Poland decriminalizes homosexual prostitution. An Australian arm of the Daughters of Bilitis forms in Melbourne and is considered Australia's first homosexual rights organisation.

1970: Dusty Springfield becomes the first famous singer to "come out of the closet" publicly, as bisexual. An obscure band called Smile changes its name to the far more radical and suggestive Queen. Rock will never be the same again, as the group is fronted by the ultimate queen, Freddie Mercury. Mercury designs the group's logo and chooses to represent himself with two fairies. The band's first hit in the US would, quite appropriately, be "Killer Queen." While Mercury has been criticized for not "coming out," it seems that he did come out with the name of the band, its logo and its songs. John Marshall of Gay Times expressed the following opinion: "[Mercury] was a 'scene-queen,' not afraid to publicly express his gayness, but unwilling to analyse or justify his 'lifestyle' ... It was as if Freddie Mercury was saying to the world, 'I am what I am. So what?' And that in itself for some was a statement." Bette Midler becomes an early "gay icon" by performing at the Continental Baths, a gay bathhouse and "sexual Xanadu" in New York City. It is there that she develops her brassy "fag hag" or "Divine Miss M" persona. Her pianist, Barry Manilow, sometimes performs wearing only a white towel, like the patrons! Midler becomes known as "Bathhouse Betty," a name she still bears with pride. (BTW, there is 54-minute YouTube video of her 1971 farewell performance at the Continental Baths.) On the one year anniversary of the Stonewall riots, the first Gay Liberation Day March is held in New York City. This is now considered the first "gay pride" parade. The first "Gay-in" is held in San Francisco. Carl Wittman writes A Gay Manifesto.

1971: E. M. Forster's novel Maurice is published posthumously. Idaho repeals its sodomy law, then re-instates it because of outrage among Mormons and Catholics. The U.S. Libertarian Party calls for the repeal of all victimless crime laws, including the sodomy laws. Dr. Frank Kameny becomes the first openly gay candidate for the United States Congress. The University of Michigan establishes the first collegiate LGBT programs office, then known as the "Gay Advocate's Office." The UK Gay Liberation Front (GLF) was recognized as a political movement in the national press and was holding weekly meetings of 200 to 300 people. George Klippert, the last man jailed for homosexuality in Canada, is released from prison. Boys in the Sand was the first gay porn film to include credits, to achieve crossover success, to be reviewed by Variety, and one of the earliest porn films, after 1969's Blue Movie by Andy Warhol, to gain mainstream credibility, preceding 1972's Deep Throat by nearly a year. It was promoted with an advertising campaign unprecedented for a pornographic feature, premiered in New York City in 1971 and was an immediate critical and commercial success.

1972: "I'm gay," declared David Bowie, "and always have been, even when I was David Jones." When Bowie made this revelation in the Jan. 22, 1972, issue of England's Melody Maker, he was working on his glam-rock masterpiece The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars, which was released in June of the same year. The album stars an "androgynous bisexual rock star who who acts as a messenger for extraterrestrial beings." At the time Bowie was newly married to Angie Bowie, who had just given birth a few months before to future film director Duncan Jones. Bowie was one of the leaders in terms of making it possible to discuss the gay lifestyle openly. For instance, his song "Queen Bitch" with lines like "She's so swishy in her satin and tat!"

1973: The American Psychiatric Association removes homosexuality from its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-II), based largely on the research and advocacy of Evelyn Hooker. Lou Reed, who left The Velvet Underground to go solo, has an off-beat hit with "Take a Walk on the Wild Side." The song has been described as "an ironic yet affectionate salute to the misfits and hustlers who once surrounded Andy Warhol." When first introduced to Reed's music, David Bowie said, "I had never heard anything quite like it. It was a revelation to me." And the lyrics were way a-head of their time, if you'll pardon the pun. For example, these lines about Candy Darling: "Candy came from out on the island, / In the backroom she was everybody's darling, / But she never lost her head / Even when she was giving head ..."

1974: Kathy Kozachenko becomes the first openly gay American elected to public office when she wins a seat on the Ann Arbor, Michigan city council. Robert Grant founds American Christian Cause to oppose the "gay agenda", the beginning of modern Christian politics in America. Angela Morley became the first openly transgender person to be nominated for an Academy Award, when she was nominated for one in the category of Best Music, Original Song Score/Adaptation for The Little Prince (1974), a nomination shared with Alan Jay Lerner, Frederick Loewe, and Douglas Gamley.

1975: The Rocky Horror Picture Show becomes a camp/cult classic, with songs like Sweet Transvestite, sung by Tim Curry. Homosexuality is legalized in California due to the Consenting Adult Sex Bill, authored by and successfully lobbied for in the state legislature by State Assemblyman from San Francisco Willie Brown. Meanwhile, Leonard Matlovich becomes the first U.S. gay service member to purposely out himself. Clela Rorex, a clerk in Boulder County, Colorado, issues the first same-sex marriage licenses in the United States, the first to Dave McCord and Dave Zamora. Six same-sex marriages were performed, but all were overturned later that year.

1976: After undergoing gender reassignment surgery, ophthalmologist and professional tennis player Renee Richards is banned from competing in the women's US Open because of a "women-born-women" rule. Cameron Crowe encourages David Bowie to tell Playboy: "It's true—I am a bisexual. But I can't deny that I've used that fact very well." Bowie's glam-rock style, innovations and reinventions of himself would influence peers like Sweet, Slade, T. Rex, Elton John, Madonna, Michael Jackson, Prince, Boy George, Queen, Pink Floyd and U2, among many others. Bowie had "sartorial influence" on the cross-dressing New York Dolls. His sponsorship of Mott the Hoople (for whom he wrote and produced "All the Young Dudes") and Iggy Pop helped create punk. When Bowie went electronic, he paved the way for The Human League, Depeche Mode, Culture Club and Duran Duran. Bowie also influenced new wave acts like Spandau Ballet and the Eurythmics. Today, acts as diverse as Lady Gaga, Kanye West, Beyoncé, Janelle Monáe and Adam Lambert seem to have clearly been influenced by Ziggy Stardust.

Madonna told a crowd in Houston two days after Bowie's death: "He showed me it was okay to be different."
Madonna again: "Before I saw David Bowie live, I was just your normal, dysfunctional, rebellious teenager from the Midwest, and he has truly changed my life."
Boy George called Bowie his "hero" and said there "would not be Boy George if it wasn't for David Bowie."
"It's not exaggerating to say what Elvis meant to America, David Bowie meant to the U.K. and Ireland," Bono told Rolling Stone in 2010.
Upon hearing of Bowie's death, Kanye West tweeted: "David Bowie was one of my most important inspirations, so fearless, so creative, he gave us magic for a lifetime."
In an editorial for Rolling Stone, Marilyn Manson wrote that Bowie "confused and captivated" him when he first saw him on TV, and soon became a profound influence.
Manson again: "When I grew up, there was David Bowie and Iggy Pop—people who had something to say and had quite an impact on music and society."

1977: Renee Richards competes in the 1977 women's US Open but is defeated in the first round by Virginia Wade. Billy Crystal plays one of the first openly gay characters in a recurring role on a prime time television show in "Soap." Harvey Milk is elected city-county supervisor in San Francisco, becoming the fifth out American elected to public office. Dade County, Florida enacts a Human Rights Ordinance; it is repealed the same year after a militant anti-homosexual-rights campaign led by Anita Bryant. Welsh author Jeffrey Weeks publishes Coming Out. The first eight-color version of the LGBT pride flag. Publication of the first issue of Gaysweek, NYC's first mainstream gay weekly. Police raided a house outside of Boston outraging the gay community. In response the Boston-Boise Committee was formed, which would lead to the founding of NAMBLA. Anne Holmes became the first openly lesbian minister ordained by the United Church of Christ. Ellen Barrett became the first openly lesbian priest ordained by the Episcopal Church of the United States (serving the Diocese of New York).

1978: San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk and Mayor George Moscone are assassinated by former Supervisor Dan White. The rainbow flag is first used as a symbol of homosexual pride. Robin Tyler became the first out lesbian on U.S. national television, appearing on a Showtime comedy special hosted by Phyllis Diller. The same year she released her comedy album, Always a Bridesmaid, Never a Groom, the first comedy album by an out lesbian.

1979: The first national homosexual rights march on Washington, D.C. is held. The White Night riots occur. Harry Hay issues the first call for a Radical Faerie gathering in Arizona. The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence first appear in public on Easter Sunday in San Francisco. A number of people in Sweden called in sick with a case of being homosexual, in protest of homosexuality being classified as an illness. This was followed by an activist occupation of the main office of the National Board of Health and Welfare. Within a few months, Sweden became the first country in the world to remove homosexuality as an illness.

1980: The Democratic Party becomes the first major political party in the U.S. to endorse a homosexual rights platform plank. The Human Rights Campaign is founded by Steve Endean; it is America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality.

1981: The so-called Moral Majority starts its anti-homosexual crusade. The first official documentation of the condition known as AIDS was published by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Tennis player Billie Jean King became the first prominent professional athlete to come out as a lesbian, when her relationship with her secretary Marilyn Barnett became public in a "palimony" lawsuit filed by Barnett. Due to this, King lost all of her endorsements. Mary C. Morgan became the first openly gay or lesbian judge in America when she was appointed by California Governor Jerry Brown to the San Francisco Municipal Court. Randy Shilts was hired as a national correspondent by the San Francisco Chronicle, becoming "the first openly gay reporter with a gay 'beat' in the American mainstream press."
1982: Laguna Beach, CA elects the first openly gay mayor in United States history. The first Gay Games is held in San Francisco, attracting 1,600 participants. Wisconsin becomes the first US state to ban discrimination against homosexuals. The CDC used the term AIDS for the first time when it reported that an average of one to two cases of AIDS were being diagnosed in America every day.

1983: Massachusetts Representative Gerry Studds reveals that he is gay on the floor of the House, becoming the first openly gay member of Congress. AIDS is described as a "gay plague" by Jerry Falwell, a leader of the so-called Moral Majority.

1984: Massachusetts voters reelect representative Gerry Studds, despite his outing himself the year before. Berkeley, CA becomes the first city in the U.S. to adopt a program of domestic partnership health benefits for city employees. West Hollywood, CA is founded and becomes the first known city to elect a city council where a majority of the members are openly gay or lesbian.

1985: The first memorial to gay Holocaust victims is dedicated. Rock Hudson is the first major public figure known to have died from an AIDS-related illness. Terry Sweeney becomes Saturday Night Live's first openly gay male cast member; Sweeney was "out" prior to being hired as a cast member.

1986: Becky Smith and Annie Afleck became the first openly lesbian couple in America granted legal, joint adoption of a child. In the Bowers v. Hardwick case, the U.S. Supreme Court upholds a Georgia law forbidding oral or anal sex, ruling that the constitutional right to privacy does not extend to homosexual relations, but it does not state whether the law can be enforced against heterosexuals. (Shades of Dred Scott!)

1987: U.S. Congressman Barney Frank comes out. Homomonument, a memorial to persecuted homosexuals, opens in Amsterdam. The first AIDS Memorial Quilt is larger than a football field.

1988: Sweden is the first country to pass laws protecting homosexuals regarding social services, taxes, and inheritances. The anti-gay Section 28 passes in England and Wales; Scotland enacts almost identical legislation.

1989: Denmark is the first country in the world to enact registered partnership laws (like a civil union) for same-sex couples, with most of the same rights as marriage (excluding the right to adoption and the right to marriage in a church).

1990: Justin Fashanu is the first professional footballer to come out in the press.

1991: Sherry Harris was elected to the City Council in Seattle, Washington, making her the first openly lesbian African-American elected official. The first lesbian kiss on television occurred on L.A. Law between the fictional characters of C.J. Lamb (played by Amanda Donohoe) and Abby (Michele Greene). The first officially recognized gay and lesbian hall of fame in the US, the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame, was founded.

1992: Althea Garrison was elected as the first transgender state legislator and served one term in the Massachusetts House of Representatives; it was not publicly known that she was transgender when elected.

1993: President Bill Clinton signs a military policy directive that prohibits openly gay and lesbian Americans from serving in the military, but also prohibits the harassment of "closeted" homosexuals. The wishy-washy policy is known as "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." Singer Melissa Etheridge comes out as a lesbian.

1994: The movie Philadelphia, starring Tom Hanks and depicting a closeted gay man dying of AIDS, wins two Academy Awards.

1995: The Hate Crimes Sentencing Enhancement Act goes into effect as part of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994. The law allows a judge to impose harsher sentences if there is evidence showing that a victim was selected because of the "actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, ethnicity, gender, disability, or sexual orientation of any person." Rachel Maddow became the first openly gay or lesbian American to win an international Rhodes scholarship.

1996: President Bill Clinton signs the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, banning federal recognition of same-sex marriage and defining marriage as "a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife." Judge Chang rules that the state does not have a legal right to deprive same-sex couples of the right to marry, making Hawaii the first state to recognize that gay and lesbian couples are entitled to the same privileges as heterosexual married couples. The first lesbian wedding on TV occurred on Friends. RuPaul is signed to a modeling contract for MAC Cosmetics, making him the first drag queen supermodel. Various billboards featured him in full drag, often with the text "I am the MAC girl."

1997: Comedian Ellen DeGeneres comes out as a lesbian on the cover of Time magazine, stating, "Yep, I'm Gay." The laconic nature of her remark signals that the times are a-changin'.  DeGeneres' character Ellen Morgan on her self-titled TV series Ellen becomes the first leading character to come out on a prime time network TV show.

1998: Coretta Scott King, the widow of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., asks the civil rights community to help in the effort to extinguish homophobia. Matthew Shepard is tied to a fence and beaten near Laramie, Wyoming. He is eventually found by a cyclist, who initially mistakes him for a scarecrow. His killers each receive two life sentences. Tammy Baldwin became the first openly gay or lesbian non-incumbent ever elected to Congress, and the first open lesbian ever elected to Congress, winning Wisconsin's 2nd congressional district seat over Josephine Musser. Robert Halford comes out as the first openly gay heavy metal musician.

2000: Vermont becomes the first state to legalize civil-unions between same-sex couples. Hillary Clinton became the first First Lady to march in an LGBT pride parade.

2003: The US Supreme Court strikes down the "homosexual conduct" law, which decriminalizes same-sex sexual conduct, with their opinion in Lawrence v. Texas. The decision also reverses Bowers v. Hardwick, a 1986 US Supreme Court ruling that upheld Georgia's sodomy law.

2004: The first legal same-sex marriages in the US take place in California and shortly thereafter in New Mexico, Massachusetts, New York and Oregon. Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon, two of the founders of the Daughters of Bilitis in 1955, become the first same-sex couple to be legally married in the United States because they are first in line when San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom allows city hall to start granting marriage licenses to same-sex couples. However, all 2004 same-sex marriages in California were later annulled. James McGreevey, the governor of New Jersey, comes out as gay, thus becoming the first openly gay state governor in United States history. He resigns soon thereafter. The first all-transgender performance of the Vagina Monologues is held.

2005: The California legislature becomes the first to pass a bill allowing marriage between same-sex couples. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoes the bill. Brokeback Mountain is released to limited audiences in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco. The film, directed by Ang Lee, focuses on a love story between two men that stretches over decades, and survives in a time and place in which the two men's feelings for each other were utterly taboo. The film stars Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger, and goes on to win several Golden Globe Awards and Academy Awards. The Simpsons became the first cartoon series to dedicate an entire episode to the topic of same-sex marriage.

2006: The New Jersey Supreme Court rules that state lawmakers must provide the rights and benefits of marriage to gay and lesbian couples.

2007: The first ever gay pride parade in a Muslim country is held in Istanbul, Turkey. Ellen DeGeneres became the first open lesbian to host the Academy Awards.

2008: The California Supreme Court rules that limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples is unconstitutional. Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon are once again first in line for marriage licenses! They were remarkable women, and very persistent, as they had been two of the founders of the Daughters of Bilitis in 1955. So they had waited over half a century to tie the knot. Voters approve Proposition 8 in California, which makes same-sex marriage illegal. Rachel Maddow became the first openly gay or lesbian anchor of a major prime-time news program in the United States when she began hosting The Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC. RuPaul begins producing RuPaul’s Drag Race, a reality television game show which marked drag culture’s entry into the mainstream. The title of the show is a play on drag queen and drag racing, and the title sequence and song, “Drag Race,” both have a drag-racing theme.

2009: Sean Penn wins an Oscar for his role as Harvey Milk in the film Milk. The film also won for Best Original Screenplay. Milk is posthumously awarded the Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama, who signs the "Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act" into law.

2010: California's dreadful Proposition 8 is found unconstitutional by a federal judge.

2011: The dreadful "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" is repealed, ending a ban on gay men and lesbians from serving openly in the military. Pussy Riot forms and immediately begins public protests of sexism in Russia, with songs like "Kill the Sexist," "Putin Has Pissed Himself" and "Punk Prayer: Mother of God Drive Putin Away." Later, in 2016 the band would launch similar musical protests against American President Donald Trump.

2012: In an ABC interview, Barack Obama becomes the first sitting US president to publicly support the freedom for LGBT couples to marry. The Democratic Party becomes the first major US political party in history to publicly support same-sex marriage on a national platform. Tammy Baldwin becomes the first openly gay politician and the first Wisconsin woman to be elected to the US Senate.

2013: In US v. Windsor, the US Supreme Court strikes down section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, ruling that legally married same-sex couples are entitled to federal benefits. The high court also dismisses a case involving California's dreadful Proposition 8.

2014: The US Supreme Court denies review in five different marriage cases, allowing lower court rulings to stand, and therefore allowing same-sex couples to marry in five states and possibly six more.

2015: Secretary of Defense Ash Carter announces that the Military Equal Opportunity policy has been adjusted to include gay and lesbian military members. The US Supreme Court rules 5-4 that states cannot ban same-sex marriage. Each of the four conservative justices writes an individual dissent.

2016: The Senate confirms Eric Fanning to be secretary of the Army, making him the first openly gay secretary of a US military branch. President Barack Obama announces the designation of the first national monument to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights. The Stonewall National Monument will encompass Christopher Park, the Stonewall Inn and the surrounding streets and sidewalks that were the sites of the 1969 Stonewall uprising. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter announces that the Pentagon is lifting the ban on transgender people serving openly in the US military. A record number of "out" athletes compete in the summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. The Human Rights Campaign estimates that there are at least 41 openly lesbian, gay and bisexual Olympians. Kate Brown is sworn in as governor of Oregon, becoming the highest-ranking LGBT person elected to office in the United States.

2017: Thousands of gay and bisexual men convicted of now-abolished sexual offenses in Britain have been posthumously pardoned under a new policing law, the Justice Ministry announces, including Oscar Wilde. The law is named after British WWII codebreaker Alan Turing, who committed suicide following his conviction for gross indecency. The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals rules that the Civil Rights Act prohibits workplace discrimination against LGBT employees. District of Columbia residents can now choose a gender neutral option of their drivers license. The US Department of Defense announces a six-month delay in allowing transgendered individuals to enlist in the United States military. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis writes that they "will use this additional time to evaluate more carefully the impact of such accessions on readiness and lethality. (Oh goody, lethality!) President Donald Trump announces via Twitter that "After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the US Military..." (Oh goody, the president is a big fat bigot!) Danica Roem beats Republican incumbent Robert Marshall in race for the Virginia House of Delegates and becomes the first openly transgender state legislator in the country. Marshall, Virginia's self-described "chief homophobe," had refused to debate Roem and released campaign ads that referred to her with male pronouns. Marshall had also introduced a bill that would have required Virginians to use public restrooms that correspond with their birth gender, so it's wonderfully ironic that he lost to Roem!

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