LGBTQ Political History Lesson Part 1: 1920-1960

Part One: LGBTQ Political Movement History The Stonewall Riots is the most common origin story known as the beginning of political action by the LGBTQ community. This would mean...

Part One: LGBTQ Political Movement History

The Stonewall Riots is the most common origin story known as the beginning of political action by the LGBTQ community. This would mean that the LGBTQ community started fighting for gay rights in late 1960s, but many don’t know the true origin that started political action for gay rights.

The Society For Human Rights
One of the earliest queer political actions took place in the 1920s when a U.S. soldier by the name of Henry Gerber was station in Germany from 1920 to 1923 he witnessed the rise of homophile organizations (the former term for gay rights groups). When Gerber returned to Chicago in 1924 he founded The Society For Human Rights, the first gay rights organization in the U.S. and produced the first gay rights newsletter called “Friendship and Freedom.”

Henry Gerber

Shortly after the newsletter was dispersed the police raided Gerber’s home and arrested him, with the police confiscating the rest of his newsletters. This arrest lead to Gerber losing his job and life savings, with his organization falling apart. He later moved to New York City to start writing activist works again under the pen name ‘Parisex’ and continued his work until his death in the 1970s.

The Mattachine Society
This gay rights group formed in the early 1950s by Harry Hay, with the organization starting in California. The Society quickly spread across the country to providing gays and lesbians support, through gatherings discussing experiences.

The Society was formed during the time when a gathering discussing homosexuality was considered breaking the law in certain states and marked homosexuals as an “oppressed minority.” They found that developing a community would help triumph over oppression and called for anti-gay legislation in the U.S. needed to be overturned.

The Mattachine Society Marching at Gay Liberation Day in New York

In 1953 the radical ideas of the Society evolved for accommodation ideals, stating that homosexuals need to adapt instead of combat heterosexual lifestyles to obtain equality. The Mattachines dissolved at the end of the 1960s when gay rights activism became more aggressive.

This is only the beginning of history behind the politics of LGBTQ rights and for more on the history of the LGBTQ community, check out the video above.

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