1960s in LGBT rights

This is a list of notable events in the history of LGBT rights that took place in the 1960s.

List of years in LGBT rights (table)

Events during this periodEdit






  • February – The Black Cat Bar, having struggled for several months to survive without liquor sales, closes permanently.[11]
  • September 19 – A small group pickets the Whitehall Street Induction Center in New York City after the confidentiality of gay men's draft records was violated. This action has been identified as the first gay rights demonstration in the United States.[12]
  • December 2 – Four gay men and lesbians picket a New York City lecture by a psychoanalyst espousing the model of homosexuality as a mental illness. The demonstrators are given ten minutes to make a rebuttal.[12]



  • January – The South African Police raid a gay party attended by about 300 people in Forest Town, a suburb of Johannesburg. This attracts much public and political attention, leading in 1969 to an extension of the criminalization of male homosexuality.[22][23]
  • January 21 – Time magazine publishes an unsigned two-page article, "The Homosexual in America". The article includes statements such as "Homosexuality is a pathetic little second-rate substitute for reality, a pitiable flight from life. ... it deserves no encouragement ... no pretense that it is anything but a pernicious sickness."[24]
  • February 18 – The first meeting of the coalition of gay rights groups that will become the North American Conference of Homophile Organizations takes place in Kansas City, Missouri.[25]
  • April 21 – Activists stage a "Sip-In" at Julius, a bar in New York City, challenging a state Liquor Authority regulation prohibiting serving alcohol to homosexuals on the basis that they are disorderly. Although the resultant complaint to the Liquor Authority results in no action, the city's human rights commission declares that such discrimination could not continue.[26]
  • May 21 – A coalition of homophile organizations across the country organizes simultaneous demonstrations for Armed Forces Day. The Los Angeles group holds a 15-car motorcade (which has been identified as the nation's first gay pride parade)[27] and activists hold pickets in the other cities.[28][29]
  • July 18 – Around 25 people picket Compton's Cafeteria in San Francisco when new management begins using Pinkerton agents and police to harass gay and transgender customers.[30]
  • August – Gay and transgender customers riot at Compton's in response to continued police harassment. The restaurant and the surrounding neighborhood sustain heavy damage. The following night demonstrators throw up another picket line, which quickly descends into new violence and damage to the restaurant.[30]
  • September – The Chicago chapter of the Mattachine Society pickets the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times for routinely ignoring press material and refusing advertising from the organization.[31]


  • The book Homosexual Behavior Among Males: A Cross-Cultural and Cross-Species Investigation by Wainwright Churchill III breaks ground as a scientific study approaching homosexuality as a fact of life rather than as a sin, crime or disease, and introduces the term "homoerotophobia", a possible precursor to "homophobia".
  • Pierre Trudeau, then Canada's Minister of Justice, introduces an Omnibus Bill to overhaul Canada's criminal laws, which includes decriminalizing homosexual acts. Trudeau tells reporters, "There's no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation" and "What’s done in private between two consenting adults doesn’t concern the Criminal Code."[32] After 18 months of debate, the bill becomes law in 1969.
  • January 1 – In the first hour of the new year, a raid occurs at the Black Cat Tavern in the Silverlake area near Los Angeles.[33] Several hundred people spontaneously demonstrate on Sunset Boulevard and picket outside the Black Cat,[34] fueling the formation of gay rights groups in California.[35]
  • January 16 – The Louisiana Supreme Court rules that the state's statutory ban on "unnatural carnal copulation" applies to women engaged in oral sex with other women.[36]
  • February 11 – In a follow-up action to the Black Cat demonstration, around 40 picketers demonstrate in front of the Black Cat in coordination with hippies and other counterculture groups who had been targeted by police for harassment and violence.[37]
  • March 7 – CBS airs "The Homosexuals", an episode of CBS Reports. This first-ever national television broadcast on the subject of homosexuality has been described as "the single most destructive hour of antigay propaganda in our nation's history."[38]
  • April 23 – The Student Homophile League of Columbia University pickets and disrupts a panel of psychiatrists discussing homosexuality.[39]
  • July 27 – The Sexual Offences Act 1967 receives royal assent from Elizabeth II, decriminalizing private homosexual acts in England and Wales. The age of consent for homosexual acts is set at 21, compared to 16 for heterosexual acts.
  • August – Following the arrest of two patrons at the Los Angeles gay bar The Patch, owner Lee Glaze organizes the other patrons to move on the police station. After buying out a nearby flower shop, the demonstrators caravan to the station, festoon it with the flowers and bail out the arrested men.[40]
  • November 24 – Craig Rodwell opens the first bookstore devoted to gay and lesbian authors in the United States, the Oscar Wilde Memorial Bookshop.[41]



  • Paragraph 175 eased in West Germany.
  • Paul Goodman publishes "The Politics of Being Queer".
  • March – California state assemblyman Willie Brown starts an annual tradition of introducing legislation to repeal the state's sodomy law. He would finally succeed in 1975.[42]
  • April – When gay activist and journalist Gale Whittington is fired by the States Steamship Company after coming out in print, a small group of activists operating under the name "Committee for Homosexual Freedom" (CHF) pickets the company's San Francisco offices every workday between noon and 1:00 for several weeks.[43]
  • May 14 – Canada decriminalizes homosexual acts between consenting adults with the passage of the Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1968-69.
  • May 18 – Fight Repression of Erotic Expression (FREE), later to be called the Queer Student Cultural Center, is formed at the University of Minnesota in the United States. It is the first gay and lesbian organization in the state, and the first gay and lesbian college student-led group in the country.
  • May 21 – The Committee for Homosexual Freedom pickets a Tower Records store for several weeks following the firing of an employee believed to be gay. The employee is re-hired.[44]
  • May 21 – In South Africa, the Immorality Amendment Act, 1969 introduces Section 20A, the infamous "men at a party" clause, which criminalised all sexual acts committed between men "at a party", where "party" is defined as any occasion where more than two people are present. The amendment also raised the age of consent for male homosexual activity from 16 to 19, although "sodomy" and "unnatural acts" were already criminal.[45]
  • June 28 – The Stonewall riots in New York City mark the start of the modern gay rights movement.[46][47] Rioting breaks out sporadically over the next several days.
  • July 1
  • July 2 - A demonstration is held outside the Greenwich Village offices of The Village Voice newspaper, in protest of their seemingly condescending and homophobic account of the riots.
  • July 4 - The final ECHO-organized Annual Reminder is held in Philadelphia.
  • July 8 - Connecticut Governor John Dempsey (D) signs into law a set of revisions to the state penal code, one of which is a repeal of the state's sodomy law. The revisions are scheduled to enter into effect on October 1, 1971.
  • July 9 - The Mattachine Society of New York hosts a "Homosexual Liberation Meeting" at the Freedom House in Midtown Manhattan. Over 100 attend.
  • July 16 - The Mattachine Society of New York hosts another organizing meeting, which over 200 attend. During the course of the meeting, approximately 40 participants walk out in dissatisfaction over chapter president Dick Leitsch's handling of the post-Stonewall political energy.
  • July 24 – The Gay Liberation Front (GLF), a radical leftist group addressing not only gay rights but other left-wing causes, forms in New York City.[50] Over the next few years dozens of local GLF chapters would form across the country.[51]
  • August – Canada decriminalizes consensual sex between adults.[52]
  • October 31
    • Sixty members of the Gay Liberation Front (GLF) and the Committee for Homosexual Freedom (CHF) staged a protest outside the offices of the San Francisco Examiner in response to a series of news articles disparaging LGBT people in San Francisco's gay bars and clubs. Examiner employees dumped a bag of printers' ink from the third story window of the newspaper building onto the crowd. The protestors then used the ink to stamp purple hand prints as well as scrawling "Gay Power" and other slogans on the side of the building.[53][circular reference]
    • Time magazine runs a cover story entitled, "The Homosexual: Newly Visible, Newly Understood".[54] The author, Christopher Cory, presented a "case for greater tolerance of homosexuals" yet "emphasized the effeminate side of homosexuality to the exclusion of everyone else," resulting in a protest at the Time-Life Building on November 12, 1969.[55]
  • November 2 - The Eastern Regional Conference of Homophile Organizations votes at its convention to abandon the Annual Reminder demonstration in Philadelphia in favor of an event to commemorate the Stonewall Riots. This proposed event would eventually blossom into the first Christopher Street Liberation Day, held on June 28, 1970.
  • December 21 – Ten to fifteen members of the New York City chapter of Gay Liberation Front break away to form Gay Activists Alliance to focus exclusively on gay rights issues.[56]
  • December 28 – The Los Angeles chapter of Gay Liberation Front announces plans to establish Stonewall Nation, the world's first legally recognized gay village, by moving several hundred gay people to Alpine County, California, recalling the county government and electing an all-gay slate.[57] After a brief flurry of national attention, GLF announces that the plan is off.[58]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Katz, p. 119
  2. ^ Miller, p. 392
  3. ^ Murdoch and Price, pp. 59—60
  4. ^ "The History of Sodomy Laws in the United States - Illinois". Glapn.org. Retrieved 2018-01-08.
  5. ^ Alwood, p. 41
  6. ^ Miller (1995), p. 347
  7. ^ Shilts, p. 56—7
  8. ^ Peacock, Kent W. (2016). "Race, the Homosexual, and the Mattachine Society of Washington, 1961–1970". Journal of the History of Sexuality. 25 (2): 267–296. ISSN 1535-3605.
  9. ^ Goodhart, Allison. "Mattachine founded 50 years ago". Washingtonblade.com. Retrieved 2018-01-08.
  10. ^ MANual Enterprises v. Day, 370 US 478 (Supreme Court of the United States 1962-06-25).
  11. ^ a b Gorman p. 150
  12. ^ a b Campbell, p. xvii
  13. ^ Miller, p. 348
  14. ^ Loughery, p. 270
  15. ^ Bianco, p. 167
  16. ^ Stein, Marc (2005-05-09). "The First Gay Sit-In". History News Network. Archived from the original on 24 June 2009. Retrieved 2009-06-09.
  17. ^ Fletcher, p. 68
  18. ^ Scott v. Macy, 349 F. 2nd 182 (1965).
  19. ^ Marks Ridinger, p. 130
  20. ^ Gallo, p. 114
  21. ^ Tobin and Wicker, p. 104
  22. ^ Gevisser, pp. 30–36
  23. ^ West, pp. 23–26
  24. ^ "Essay: The Homosexual In America". Time. 1966-01-21. Archived from the original on 19 June 2010.
  25. ^ Bianco, p. 175
  26. ^ Eisenbach, pp. 46–47
  27. ^ Fletcher, p. 42
  28. ^ Slater, Don (May 1966). "Protest on Wheels". Tangents. Archived from the original on 2007-10-20. Retrieved 2009-06-09.
  29. ^ Timmons, p. 221
  30. ^ a b Carter, p. 109
  31. ^ Alwood, p. 62
  32. ^ CBC Radio-Canada Archives: Trudeau's Omnibus Bill Archived 2007-09-16 at archive.today
  33. ^ The Los Angeles Advocate, Vol. 1, No. 4, December 1967
  34. ^ Witt et al., p. 210
  35. ^ Kepner, Jim Archived 2011-05-25 at the Wayback Machine on glbtq.com
  36. ^ Katz, p. 128
  37. ^ Teal, p. 25
  38. ^ Besen, p. 128
  39. ^ Fletcher, p. 67
  40. ^ Clendinen and Nagourney, p. 180
  41. ^ Tobin, pg. 65
  42. ^ Clendinen, Dudley; Nagourney, Adam (2013-07-30). Out For Good: The Struggle to Build a Gay Rights Movement in Ame - Dudley Clendinen, Adam Nagourney - Google Books. ISBN 9781476740713. Retrieved 2018-01-08.
  43. ^ Stryker and Van Buskirk, p. 53
  44. ^ Murray, p. 61
  45. ^ West, p. 25
  46. ^ Duberman, p. xi
  47. ^ Bianco, p. 194
  48. ^ "Remembering the Stonewall Inn riots 50 years ago that spurred the gay rights movement". Penn Live Patriot News. June 26, 2019. Retrieved March 4, 2021.
  49. ^ Norton v. Macy, 21625 (United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit July 1, 1969).
  50. ^ Teal, pp. 19—20
  51. ^ Gross, p. 42
  52. ^ Miller, p. 288
  53. ^ LGBT symbols#Purple hand
  54. ^ "The Homosexual: Newly Visible, Newly Understood". Time.com. 1969-10-31. Archived from the original on September 12, 2012. Retrieved 2018-01-08.
  55. ^ Alwood, pg. 97
  56. ^ Teal, p. 110
  57. ^ Teal, pp. 292–93
  58. ^ Bianco, p. 211


  • Alwood, Edward (1996). Straight News: Gays, Lesbians, and the News Media. Columbia University Press. ISBN 0-231-08437-4.
  • Besen, Wayne R. (2003). Anything But Straight: Unmasking the Scandals and Lies Behind the Ex-gay Myth. Haworth Press. ISBN 1-56023-446-6.
  • Bianco, David (1999). Gay Essentials: Facts For Your Queer Brain. Los Angeles, Alyson Books. ISBN 1-55583-508-2.
  • Campbell, J. Louis (2007). Jack Nichols, Gay Pioneer: "Have You Heard My Message?". Haworth Press. ISBN 1-56023-653-1.
  • Carter, David (2005). Stonewall: The Riots That Sparked the Gay Revolution. Macmillan. ISBN 0-312-34269-1.
  • Cleninden, Dudley and Adam Nagourney (1999). Out For Good: The Struggle to Build a Gay Rights Movement in America. New York, Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0-684-81091-3.
  • Duberman, Martin (1993). Stonewall. Penguin Books. ISBN 0-525-93602-5.
  • Eisenbach, David (2006). Gay Power: An American Revolution. Carroll & Graf Publishers. ISBN 0-7867-1633-9.
  • Fletcher, Lynne Yamaguchi (1992). The First Gay Pope and Other Records. Boston, Alyson Publications. ISBN 1-55583-206-7.
  • Gallo, Marcia M. (2006). Different Daughters: A History of the Daughters of Bilitis and the Rise of the Lesbian Rights Movement. Carroll & Graf Publishers. ISBN 0-7867-1634-7.
  • Gevisser, Mark and Edwin Cameron (1995) Defiant Desire: Gay and Lesbian Lives in South Africa. New York, Routledge. ISBN 0-415-91061-7.
  • Gorman, Micael R. (1998). The Empress is a Man: Stories From the Life of José Sarria. New York, Harrington Park Press: an imprint of Haworth Press. ISBN 0-7890-0259-0 (paperback edition).
  • Gross, Larry P. (2001). Up from Invisibility: Lesbians, Gay Men, and the Media in America. Columbia University Press. ISBN 0-231-11952-6.
  • Katz, Jonathan Ned (1976). Gay American History: Lesbians and Gay Men in the U.S.A. New York, Harper Colophon Books. ISBN 0-06-091211-1 (paperback edition).
  • Loughery, John (1998). The Other Side of Silence – Men's Lives and Gay Identities: A Twentieth-Century History. New York, Henry Holt and Company. ISBN 0-8050-3896-5.
  • Marks Ridinger, Robert B. (2004). Speaking For Our Lives: Historic Speeches and Rhetoric for Gay and Lesbian Rights (1892–2000). Haworth Press. ISBN 1-56023-175-0.
  • Murdoch, Joyce and Deb Price (2001). Courting Justice: Gay Men and Lesbians v. the Supreme Court. New York, Basic Books, a member of the Perseus Books Group. ISBN 0-465-01513-1.
  • Murray, Stephen O. (1996). American Gay. Chicago, University of Chicago Press. ISBN 0-226-55191-1.
  • Miller, Neil (1995). Out of the Past: Gay and Lesbian History from 1869 to the Present. New York, Vintage Books. ISBN 0-09-957691-0.
  • Shilts, Randy (1982). The Mayor of Castro Street. New York, St. Martin's Press. ISBN 0-312-52331-9.
  • Stryker, Susan and Jim Van Buskirk, with foreword by Armisted Maupin (1996). Gay by the Bay: A History of Queer Culture in the San Francisco Bay Area. San Francisco, Chronicle Press. ISBN 0-8118-1187-5.
  • Teal, Donn (1971, reissued 1995). The Gay Militants: How Gay Liberation Began in America, 1969–1971. New York, St. Martin's Press. ISBN 0-312-11279-3 (1995 edition).
  • Timmons, Stuart (1990). The Trouble With Harry Hay. Boston, Alyson Publications. ISBN 1-55583-175-3.
  • Tobin, Kay and Randy Wicker (1972). The Gay Crusaders. New York, Paperback Library, a division of Coronet Communications. ISBN 0-446-66691-2.
  • West, Donald J. and Richard Green (eds.) (1997). Sociolegal Control of Homosexuality: A Multi-Nation Comparison. New York, Plenum Press. ISBN 0-306-45532-3.
  • Witt, Lynn, Sherry Thomas and Eric Marcus (eds.) (1995). Out in All Directions: The Almanac of Gay and Lesbian America. New York, Warner Books. ISBN 0-446-67237-8.

External linksEdit