LGBT History Timeline

Adapted from the Safe Schools Coalition’s “A Living Memory LGBT History Timeline” and the United Church of Christ’s history.

To read the full timeline, click here.



After a year of police raids, New York City’s roster of 20 gay and lesbian restaurants and “personality clubs” is reduced to 3.
1930 Encyclopedia of Sexual Knowledge illustrates first “sex-change” procedures.
1935 “Successful” electric shock therapy treatment of homosexuality reported at American Psychological Association meeting.
1941 “Transsexuality” first used in reference to homosexuality and bisexuality.
1942 Switzerland decriminalizes adult homosexuality (men only; lesbianism was not outlawed to begin with).
1943 U.S. military bars gays and lesbians from serving in the Armed Forces.

First known female-to-male sex change surgery, on Michael Dillon in Britain.


A Senate hearing reveals the majority of State Department dismissals are based on accusations of homosexuality; Senate approves wide-ranging investigation of homosexuals “and other moral perverts” in national government.

1952 American Psychiatric Association includes homosexuality under “sociopathic personality disturbance” in its first official list of mental disorders.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower orders dismissal of all federal employees guilty of “sexual perversion”.

Kinsey report on women’s sexuality, including lesbian behavior, released.

1954 Dr. Evelyn Hooker presents a study showing gay men are as well adjusted as straight men, at an American Psychological Association meeting.

“Transsexual” coined by Harry Benjamin.

American Civil Liberties Union approves a policy statement saying laws against sodomy and federal restrictions on employment of lesbians and gay men are constitutional.

1960 First U.S. public gathering of lesbians, at San Francisco’s Daughters of Bilitis national convention.
1961 First openly gay person runs for U.S. public office (drag queen Jose Sarria, running for San Francisco city supervisor).
1964  “Life” magazine runs positive cover story on “Homosexuality in America.”

First U.S. gay community center opens, in San Francisco, led by The Society for Individual Rights.

First transgender public uprising at San Francisco’s Compton’s Cafeteria.

1967 England and Wales legalize male homosexuality.
1967 “John” became “Joan” at John Hopkins Hospital after a circumcision accident; published case widely impacts gender theory.

The American Psychiatric Association moves homosexuality from “sociopathic” category to “sexual deviation”.

Bi Alliance begins at the University of Minnesota.


Stonewall Uprising

National Institute of Mental Health study chaired by Dr. Evelyn Hooker urges decriminalization of private sex acts between consenting adults.

The United Church of Christ Council for Christian Social Action adopted the “Resolution on Homosexuals and the Law.”


Unitarian Universalist Association becomes first U.S. mainstream religious group to recognize LGB clergy and laity within its ranks and to demand an end to anti-gay discrimination.

The Vatican issues a statement reiterating that homosexuality is a moral aberration.


The Rev. William R. Johnson became the first openly gay minister to be ordained in the United Church of Christ.

“Ithaca Statement on Bisexuality,” by the Quaker Committee of Friends on Bisexuality, is published in “The Advocate”; National Bisexual Liberation Group forms in New York.

East Lansing, Michigan, becomes first city to ban anti-gay bias in city hiring.


American Psychiatric Association removes homosexuality from its list of mental illnesses.

The United Church of Christ’s Executive Council adopted “Human Sexuality and Ordination,” which recommended that congregations, Associations and Conferences initiate programs of study and dialogue with regard to the implications (meanings) of human sexuality, and the relationship between ordination and human sexuality.


First state-level openly gay person elected: Elaine Noble of Massachusetts. 

Ohio Supreme Court rules that even though homosexuality is legal, the state can refuse to incorporate a gay organization because “the promotion of homosexuality as a valid life style is contrary to the public policy of the state.”

1975 U.S. Civil Service Commission stops banning gay men and lesbians from federal jobs.

1975 The 10th General Synod of the UCC passed the “Resolution on Human Sexuality and the Needs of Gay and Bisexual Persons.”

1975 The 10th General Synod of the UCC also passed the “A Pronouncement: Civil Liberties without Discrimination Related to Affectional or Sexual Preference” resolution.

1976 Tales of the City published by the “San Francisco Chronicle,” includes LGB and T characters.

1976 Lynn Ransom of California is one of the first openly lesbian mothers to win custody of her children in court.

1976 San Francisco Bisexual Center opens.

1977 The Rev. Anne Holmes became the first openly lesbian minister to be ordained in the United Church of Christ.

1977 Anita Bryant and Save Our Children succeed in repealing Miami law against discrimination based on sexual orientation.

1977 80% of surveyed Oregon doctors say they would refuse to treat a known homosexual.

1977 Arkansas recriminalizes gay sex after two years without such a law.

1977 The 11th General Synod of the UCC passed the “Recommendations in Regard to the Human Sexuality Study” and the “Resolution Deploring the Violation of Civil Rights of Gay and Bisexual Persons.”

1980 First Harry Benjamin Standards produced for therapists working with transgender persons.

1980 Aaron Fricke takes Paul Guilbert to his high school prom after winning a lawsuit against the school.

1980 & 1981 The Executive Council of the UCC adopted the “Equal Employment Opportunity Policy and Revision“, where it affirmed its moral and legal commitment to support and implement a program of Equal Employment Opportunity.  

1982 Parents & Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) founded.

1982 Gay Men’s Health Crisis formed.

1983 Congressman Gerry Studds comes out; first federal official to come out as gay

while in office.

1983 The 14th General Synod of the UCC passed these resolutions:

1984 Berkeley (CA) becomes first U.S. city to extend domestic partnership benefits to lesbian and gay employees.

1984 San Francisco Department of Public Health closes the city’s bathhouses.

1985 First school for openly lesbian and gay teenagers opens in New York City (Harvey Milk School).

1985 Rock Hudson comes out, admits he has AIDS.

1985 The 15th General Synod of the UCC passed the “Resolution Calling on United Church of Christ Congregations to Declare Themselves Open and Affirming.” This

resolution encourages a policy on nondiscrimination in employment, volunteer service and membership policies with regard to sexual orientation; encourages the congregations of the United Church of Christ to adopt a nondiscrimination policy and a Covenant of Openness and Affirmation of persons of lesbian, gay and bisexual orientation within the community of faith.

1987 Second National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights; Names Project AIDS Memorial.

1987 What becomes BiNet USA formed.

1987 The 16th General Synod of the UCC passed the “Resolution on the Right to Privacy.” This resolution urges individuals, congregations, Associations and Conferences to work for repeal of current laws which make private consensual sexual behavior a crime.

1988 National Coming Out Day launched.

1989 Jazz musician Billy Tipton dies and is revealed to be FTM.

1989 The 17th General Synod of the UCC passed the “Resolution Deploring Violence against Lesbian and Gay People.”

1990 First National Bisexual Conference held in San Francisco.

1990 Federal Hate Crimes Statistics Act passed; first law extending federal recognition of gay men and lesbians.

1991 First Black Lesbian and Gay Pride celebration held in Washington, D.C.

1991 The 18th General Synod of the UCC passed the “Resolution on Virginia Privacy Laws“. This resolution urged the decriminalization of private and non-commercial sexual activity between consenting adults. General Synod also passed the “Resolution on Affirming Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Persons and their Ministries.”

1992 World Health Organization removes homosexuality from its classification of illnesses.

1993 Intersex Society of North America founded.

1993 “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” U.S. military policy adopted.

1993 March on Washington for Lesbian, Gay and Bi Equal Rights and Liberation held.

1993 The 19th General Synod of the UCC passed the “Resolution Calling on the Church for Greater Leadership to End Discrimination against Gays and Lesbians“.

1993 The 19th General Synod of the UCC also passed the “A Call to End the Ban against Gays and Lesbians in the Military” resolution.

1995 First U.S. conference for FTMs.

1995 President Clinton names the first-ever White House liaison to the gay and lesbian communities.

1996 Congress passes Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), forbidding federal recognition of (and benefits for) married same-sex couples.

1996 The Directorate of the Office of Church in Society of the UCC voted for “Equal Marriage Rights for Same-sex Couples.”

1996 The Board of Directors of the United Church Board for Homeland Ministries of the UCC voted for “Equal Marriage Rights for Same Gender Couples.”

1997 South Africa becomes the first country to enact a constitutional ban outlawing sexual orientation discrimination.

1997 The 21st General Synod of the UCC passed the “Fidelity and Integrity in all Covenanted Relationships” resolution.

1998 Matthew Shepard murdered in Wyoming.

1998 The Executive Council of the UCC called for the “Passage of Hate Crimes Legislation“. In this, they called for immediate passage of the Federal Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 1998 and urged all United Church of Christ members to communicate support for this legislation to their congressional representatives.  

1999 Britain bans discrimination against transgender people.

1999 The 22nd General Synod of the UCC passed the “Prevention of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Youth Suicide” resolution. General Synod also passed the “Affirming and Strengthening Marriage” resolution.

2000 British ban against lesbians and gay men serving in the military is lifted.

2000 Britain outlaws discrimination against lesbians and gay men.

2000 Vermont offers civil unions to same-sex couples.

2002 MTF teenager Gwen Araujo murdered by sex partners, in California.

2003 Massachusetts Supreme Court rules it is unconstitutional to deny marriage to gay and lesbians.

2003 The 24th General Synod of the UCC passed these resolutions:

2004 In the United Kingdom, transgender people are allowed to change the gender on their birth certificates.

2004 Massachusetts was the first state to legalize same-sex marriage.

2004 The Executive Council of the UCC released a “Call to Action and Invitation to Dialogue on Marriage” during their April meeting.

2005 New Zealand first country to outlaw employment discrimination and hate crimes on the basis of gender identity.

2005  “Equal Marriage Rights for All” resolution passed by the 25th General Synod of the UCC.

2006 Bishop Ronald Warren of the Southeastern Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA) filed formal charges against ELCA pastor, Rev. Bradley Schmeling, because of his committed relationship with Rev. Darin Easler. 

2007 The US House decided to divide the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) into two pieces of legislation – one focusing on sexual orientation and the other on gender identity. ENDA would ban employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. 

2008 15-year-old Lawrence King was shot and killed, a day after a verbal exchange with 14-year-old Brandon McInerney and his friends. King, an eighth-grader who identified as gay and occasionally wore makeup, high heels and other feminine attire to E. O. Green Junior High School, was shot in the head while in class at school.

2008 Rally at National Center for Transgender Equality Lobby Day to end transgender discrimination.

2008 The UCC Florida Conference passed a resolution at its annual meeting in opposition to a proposed constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

2008 California Supreme Court overturns ban on same-sex marriage; gay-marriage opponents bid to get proposed amendment on ballot.

2009 The General Synod of the UCC has joined an Amicus Curiae brief (friend of the court brief) with both California-Nevada Conferences, the California Council of Churches and others in support of the petitioners claiming that Prop 8 should be ruled invalid. 

2009 The Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act / Matthew Shepard Act (LLEHCPA) was introduced in the 111th Congress in the House and in the Senate.

2009 “Affirming Diversity/Multi-Cultural Education in the Public Schools” resolution passed by the 27th General Synod of the UCC. This resolution urges churches to assist public school efforts to protect children and help them understand people of other races and sexual orientation.

2009 The House of Representatives passed Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act / Matthew Shepard Act (LLEHCPA) (H.R. 1913) by a vote of 249-175. 

2009 A fully inclusive version of ENDA (H.R. 3017) was introduced in the House as well as the Senate. 

2009 The Commonwealth of Massachusetts sued the US government over the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which was enacted in 1996.

2010 In Washington, D.C., Mayor Adrian Fenty signed into law the Religious Freedom & Civil Marriage Equality Amendment Act of 2009, and marriage licenses became available on March 3, 2010. This amendment act allows same-sex couples to marry in the city itself.

2010 Maryland’s Attorney General declared that although Maryland does not issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, the state is able to provide marriage rights and benefits to same-sex couples married outside of Maryland.

2010 Prop 8 ruled unconstitutional by Judge Vaughn R. Walker. His decision declared that Prop 8 violates both the due process and equal protection provisions of the U.S. Constitution, the first time the ban on gay marriage has been ruled unconstitutional under the U.S. Constitution. 

2010 The UCC Coalition for LGBT Concerns expanded its criteria for new Open and Affirming (ONA) Statements to include gender identity and gender expression effective July 14, 2010.

 To read the full timeline, click here.