The Gay Rights Movements in the United States: LGBT

Many minority groups have been fighting for civil and humane treatment, different by their ethnicity, race, gender and sexual orientation. The fight for the rights and freedoms of people who prefer same-sex relationships has been a significant part of American history.

In the present time, the movement is called “LGBT” and it stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender. The oppression of people who are “different” from the rest of society goes back centuries. In America, one of the first gay rights movements took place in the year 1924. It was organized by Henry Gerber who served in Germany during World War I where the gay movement was out in the open. For the most history of America and other countries, different sexual preferences were frowned upon by the society and kept a secret. When the movement began in United States, the most preposterous thing was the violation of human rights. Everyone deserves fair treatment, free of unreasonable torture and demoralization. People of other sexual orientations were no different from racial minorities, blacks and women. Their rights and freedoms have been greatly oppressed for a long time and the time for them to fight back finally came. Gerber wanted to change society by making everyone equal with the ability to work freely, get education for society on the issue and also the ability to serve in the military. But the society did not allow for this to happen and the organization ceased to exist (Newton, 2009).

The next big change came about 30 years later with Harry Hay. He wanted homosexuals to be treated as a unique group of people, a society, just like racial groups and ethnic minorities. The organization called “Mattachines” gained more support and many people joined the common fight. But the unstable relations in the world and fear of Communism and the Soviet Union halted the movement. The 1960s became a very episodic time with movements and meetings almost every year. On June 27th, 1969, some police officers went to a bar commonly known for its homosexual visitors. Police would often arrest people and take them to the police station for a night. But on June 27, people in Stonewall Inn were outraged and started to fight back. Police officers happened to be trapped inside and the building caught fire. There were no fatalities but this was one of the major turning points in the way the movement manifested itself and its fight for rights and freedoms (Hall, 2010). The government and society’s understanding of homosexuality was so obscure and wrong that there were even legal-criminal prohibitions. Some laws stated that men and women of different sexual orientations could not serve in the military and some laws considered sexuality a psychological or psychiatric disorder. The fight against American Psychiatric Society ended in 1973 with the removal of labels of homosexuality, as a disorder, from the lists. The pressure and persistence of gays and lesbians have played a noticeable role in society. The goal was to change the old mindset and establish a new understanding of a person and their individual life. Society was slowly starting to accept and understand the reasons for the change. For example, in 1997 there was a poll, which showed a statistic that 56 percent of people acknowledged that homosexual men and women should have the same rights in their employment while 33 percent did not agree. The 1980s were a very unpleasant and negative moment, as there was an outbreak of AIDS. This deadly disease attached itself to the gay men population and reinforced many predispositions towards homosexuality. The 1990s were a significant change for the better for the gay and lesbian movement. In 1993, the American military became acceptable of people’s private lives. As the acknowledgment of homosexuality became more widespread, the demands and rights started to align themselves to those of everyone else in society. There was a demand in the allowing of marriages between same-sex partners, ability to have and adopt children and receive full acceptance and coverage of the law (Newton, 2009).

The most current events in the LGBT movement have been characterized by increased liberation. Even though the Supreme Court has accepted, as denial of freedom, any form of homosexual relationships, which were illegal before, the adoption and custody cases have had much difficulty. Society is concerned that if a child is raised in such a family they will have inclinations to feel or think a certain way. There are not very many studies that have been conducted, as the issue is relatively new. The majority of states have administered anti-discrimination laws towards anyone but there are still many cases where a person is treated differently and often even fired for their sexual preferences. The argument is made that people who are homosexual “act provocatively and noticeably.” In reality, there are only individuals who want to stand out. There are very many examples of heterosexual people who require making themselves look “not normal” and stand out from society, as someone special and one who needs preferential treatment. Any society has those kinds of people and it is wrong to generalize and stereotype towards the rest of the group or society. A lot of hostility has been received from the religious grows, which demand that the “word of God” be obeyed no matter what. This prevents individuals from fully functioning in society and limits their ability to develop into confident and functioning human beings. By 2007, 59 percent of Americans voted for same-sex relationships and marriages. It is the right of every human being to have a family with anyone they desire, as long as it is mutually permissive (Newton, 2009). One of the most current supporters of the LGBT rights movement is Hilary Clinton. She acknowledges that the problem is very much existent and gays and lesbians are being treated very violently and unconstitutionally. The democratic government strives to provide the same rights and freedoms to everyone but there are many political and social limitations involved (R, 2012).

The modern world has seen some major changes in people’s rights and freedom of expression. The liberal and democratic view is to let everyone be who they want to be, as long as everyone obeys the common laws and order in society. Whatever people do in their personal lives is their own business. Presently, many peaceful protests and parades promote homosexuality and many people, even those who are not homosexual, join and support the movement. Every living person was created in the same way and on the same planet, this fact alone proves that everyone must be treated with equal respect and understanding.


Hall, S. (2010). The american gay rights movement and patriotic protest. Journal of the History of Sexuality, 19(3), 536-562,604.

Newton, D. (2009). Gay and lesbian rights: A reference handbook, second edition. Santa Barbara, United States: ABC-CLIO.

R, R. R. (2012). Exporting gay rights. First Things, (220), 3-7.

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