Gay History

It has never been easy to be gay. That’s just an indisputable fact of history. Of all minority groups, gay men and lesbians, have had perhaps the toughest time of any group. We are born into foreign, hostile environments and left to sink or swim entirely on our own.  Latinos are born into Latino families, Asians are born in Asian families, Blacks are born into Black families.  But gay men and women are born into what amounts to hostile territory.  Its as if we are born behind enemy lines and left to survive entirely by our own instinct, with no instruction manual, no mentors, nothing but trial and error.

Contrary to what many have preached and fervently believed, no one chooses to be gay.  The only choice we have is what to do with who were are.  Being gay is not a choice but is a fact born with us, just as much as the fact that one might have blue eyes or blond hair.  Being gay is genetically programmed into us from the beginning and is most definitely not something anyone chooses.

Gay people have been a part of the world for as long as there have been people.  With so many millions and millions and millions of gay men and women throughout history, there are countless lives and stories that have sadly be lost to time. So much gay history has been lost, but so much still remains and should — must — be remembered. Several times when writing this, I have shifted my starting point, constantly pushing back, earlier and earlier, as I’ve learned more and more.  The bottom line is that as long as there have been people, there have been gay folks among them.  We are simply always there, always part of the story, even though our presence is often hidden or brushed under the carpet. We are, and have been, as much a part of history as any other people or group.

For much of recorded history, the human race has been dead set against gay folks, usually linking back by the thinnest of threads to some ancient biblical mandates that are so ridiculous as to be laughable. And we will not even talk about the other parts of that same code that people are so quick to gloss over, to forget about, in their rush to get to the supposed strictures about gay folks. I do not believe that one can pick and choose what lines of an extensive code they are going to follow and ignore the 99% that remains.  In my view it is impossible to be opposed to homosexuality, but ignore the requirement that clothing not be made of mixed fabrics.  It is impossible to be opposed to homosexuality, but ignore the requirement that shellfish are never to be touched — no more shrimp, no more lobster, no more clams or oysters. It is impossible to be opposed to homosexuality and also ignore the requirement to stone one’s neighbor who is an unbeliever. And we won’t talk about pork.  Needless to say, there are many, many, many strictures that are utterly disregarded, when in reality the entire code is utterly irrelevant and obsolete, written for a particular people in a particular place that existed thousands of years ago, a time and a place and a people that no longer exist. That code is now totally without meaning and the fact that some try to hold onto that single stricture is laughable.

It will be a glorious day when all of those people who have persecuted gay men and lesbians for thousands of years all burn in hell together, suffering as they made my people suffer. So much harm has been done over the years, so many lives needlessly lost, so many lives cut short. So much potential snuffed out. So much creativity simply thrown away.  All of it is senseless.

This is part of why I think its important to remember all who have gone before us, for it is in their footsteps that we walk and on their shoulders that we stand.  They made their way when there was no map, when no one had publicly walked the same path.  It was almost always more difficult than it is now, even though now is not exactly a walk in the park.  Their stories deserve to be remembered and told. These pages are a start on that road — the barest of beginnings.  Our story is huge, covering countless generations and untold millions of people. I will tell what I can find.

If you are interested in reading more about our rich, gay history, there is an abundance of material available to us, more than has existed for any generation.  Countless men and women who came before us and fought fights at tremendous personal cost have been forgotten, but the only reason we are where we are today and can do what we do today is because they went before us and cleared the pathway upon which we now walk.  We are in effect standing on the shoulders of those who came before us.  We owe them a great deal, the least of which is to remember their names and there tremendous sacrifices they made, not for themselves, but those future generations of gay and lesbian folks that would come after them.

Timeline of Major Events in Gay History

Bibliography of Gay History Books

Tom Doerr, Pioneer Gay Activist

Gay Pulp Books

Black Cat Tavern Raid, 1966-7

Gay Activists Picket in Philadelphia, 1965

Fighting for Our Lives, 1983

Long Beach Mass Arrests, 1911

Mansfield, Ohio Entrapment, 1962

Mexico City, 1901

Harvard University Witch Hunt, 1920

William T. Simpson, 1954

Baker Street Vice Raid (1918)

For many, many more events, please see the timeline of gay history. Please note that this timeline is a work in progress and will grow as I have time to add some of the mountains of gay history material I have to it.



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