Every October, the LGBT community celebrates LGBT history month. Each day, a new LGBT icon is honored, and people all over the country are encouraged to reflect on how far we’ve come as a country, and how far we still have to go. Although DC has gradually become a very accepting place for everyone, our city has an interesting LGBT history, and especially as the nation’s capital, it is important to appreciate the progress we have made and remember where we started. In honor of this month, here is a timeline of LGBT history in DC.
1947: The State Department purged all homosexual members from its ranks.
1957: Nob Hill, the first gay club in DC, opened.
1961: The first safe haven for female impersonators (drag queens) was created. Drag was not illegal at the time, but drag queens were subject to harassment, discrimination, and physical attacks. Safe havens, or houses where drag groups could stay, were created to make a safe space for them.
1961-1975: Dr. Franklin Kameny created the slogan “Gay is Good” and challenged the federal government to revoke their anti-gay policies. He also spoke out against other organizations with homophobic views and rules.
1965: First gay protest held in front of White house.
1966: The first gay magazine is created, “The Homosexual Citizen.”
1971: The oldest active gay activist group in DC, Gay Activists Alliance (GAA), was founded.
1972: The DC school board extended the first civil rights protection to homosexuals.
1973: Homosexuality was removed from the list of mental illnesses by The Board of the American Psychiatric Association.
1975: First pride festival was held in DC.
1979: The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom happened, which takes the title for the first national gay event.
1981: DC Police have sensitivity training for LGBT issues.
1993: Same-sex activity is decriminalized.
1995: In Dean v. District of Columbia, a gay couple goes to court to file for a marriage license, and DC courts deny them the right to marry.
1997: Capital Pride includes bisexual and transgender in their name for the first time.
2009: Mayor Adrian Fenty signed a bill that legalized same-sex marriage in DC.
2010: Marriage licenses are made available to same-sex couples in DC.
2013: Transgender citizens can officially receive a new birth certificate with their true gender identity.
2014: DC Council voted to ban conversion therapy.
2014: A poll shows that 64 percent of DC residents support same-sex marriage, 26 percent oppose it and 10 percent have no opinion.
2015: The Supreme Court rules that same-sex marriage is legal in all 50 states.
The District hasn’t had a perfect past, especially when it comes to the treatment of the LGBT community. But DC, along with many other cities, has come very far and made a lot of progress. It’s important to reflect on how far we’ve come and ponder what work we still have to do in order to be a truly accepting place for everyone.
PHOTO COURTESY OF CREATIVE COMMONS