While there are hundreds of milestones in LGBTQ history, we’re highlighting a few here and linking to sample content you’ll find in LGBTQ History and Culture since 1940, Part I and images of some of the materials documents that will are contained in Archives of Sexuality and Gender. 

The Mattachine Society is formed by activist Harry Hay and is one of the first sustained gay rights groups in the US.  The Society focuses on social acceptance and other support for homosexual people.  Coordinating Council Minutes of the Mattachine Society.​


Come Out


Police raid the Stonewall Inn in New York City. Protests and demonstrations begin, and it later becomes known as the impetus for the gay civil rights movement in the United States.  News article from Come Out newsletter with coverage of the event.

First meeting of “Parents and Friends of Gays,” which goes national as Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) in 1982.

March 26, 1973



December 15, 1973

By a vote of 5,854 to 3,810, the American Psychiatric Association removes homosexuality from its list of mental disorders in the DSM-II Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

Kathy Kozachenko becomes the first openly LGBT American elected to any public office when she wins a seat on the Ann Arbor (MI) City Council.   article by Kathy Kozachenko published in Gay Liberator (August 1974).

Elaine Noble is the first openly gay candidate elected to a state office when she is elected to the Massachusetts State legislature.  article by Elaine Noble published in Focus (September 1974).


article by Kathy Kozachenko published in Gay Liberator (August 1974).

January 9, 1978

 Harvey Milk is inaugurated as San Francisco city supervisor and is the first openly gay man to be elected to a political office in California. Check out this article about election in GALA Review (1978).

Inspired by Harvey Milk to develop a symbol of pride and hope for the LGBT community, Gilbert Baker designs and stitches together the first rainbow flag.  Check out this profile of Baker 20 years later.


Profile of Gilbert Baker who created the rainbow flag as a symbol of gay pride.

article about the first ever conference of third world gays and lesbians.

October 12, 1979

The first National Conference for Third World Lesbians and Gays convenes in Washington hosted by The National Coalition of Black Gays and aimed to shed light on underrepresented members of the LGBT community.  article from Gay Community News (October 14, 1979).

The first National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights takes place. It draws an estimated 75,000 to 125,000 people marching for LGBT rights.  Check out this article from Mom Guess What (November 1979).

October 14, 1979

A collage of pictures from the first every national march on Washington for Lesbian and gay Rights.

March 2, 1982

Wisconsin becomes the first state to outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation. article from Lambda News (February 19, 1982).

Lambda Legal wins People v. West 12 Tenants Corp., the first HIV/AIDS discrimination lawsuit.



December 1, 1988

The World Health Organization holds the first World AIDS Day to raise AIDS awareness. article from Ottawa-based GO/Info (November 1988).

President Bill Clinton signs a military policy directive that prohibits openly gay and lesbian Americans from serving in the military, but also prohibits the harassment of “closeted” homosexuals. The policy is known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”  article from The Wisconsin Light (June 10-23, 1993).

November 30, 1993

Article about don't ask don't tell

Article from Archives of Sexuality and Gender about the Defense of Marriage Act

September 21, 1996

President Bill Clinton signs the Defense of Marriage Act, banning federal recognition of same-sex marriage and defining marriage as “a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife.”  article from Boston-based Newsweekly (September 22, 1996).

President Barack Obama signs the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act into law. a blog post by Jesse Lee (October 28, 2009).​

October 28, 2009

Blog post about President Barack Obama signing the Shepard act. From Archives of Sexuality and Gender

The legislative proposal to end DOMA. From the Archives of Sexuality and Gender

June 26, 2013

In United States v. Windsor, the U.S. Supreme Court strikes down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, ruling that legally married same-sex couples are entitled to federal benefits. The high court also dismisses a case involving California’s Proposition 8.  Read the legislative proposal repealing the Defense of Marriage Act.

The Supreme Court rules that states cannot ban same-sex marriage. The 5-4 ruling had Justice Anthony Kennedy writing for the majority with the four liberal justices. Each of the four conservative justices writes their own dissent. Read the Supreme Court decision ending state same-sex marriage bans.

June 26, 2015

The court decision that legalized gay marriage in the United States. From Archives of Sexuality and Gender.

The Next Step

Help students, educators, and researchers discover a vast resource of rare and unique resources that document LGBTQ history through newsletters, government documents, manuscripts, pamphlets, and other primary sources. Take the next step to bring resources to your library community and learn more about Archives of Sexuality & Gender: LGBTQ History and Culture Since 1940, Part II.