Photos of Historic LGBTQ Moments Through the Years

Max Whittaker/Stringer/Getty Images News via Getty Images

Historic LGBTQ Moments Through the Years

Historic LGBTQ Moments Through the Years

Wave your rainbow flag proudly
Photos of Historic LGBTQ Moments Through the Years

Max Whittaker/Stringer/Getty Images News via Getty Images

As Pride Month begins, it’s good to take time to recognize the struggles of the LGBTQ community and celebrate how far the gay rights movement has come. These photos will take you back through the hard times and the landmark moments of the LGBTQ movement.

Christine Jorgensen has the first sex-change operation in America

Christine Jorgensen has the first sex-change operation in America

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Christine Jorgensen was the first American to undergo a sex-change operation. Her story became known when The New York Times published an article about her in 1952.

One of the oldest gay bars in New York

One of the oldest gay bars in New York

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Julius’ is one of the oldest gay bars in New York City, making it one of the city's most-visited tourist attractions. In 1966, three men from the Mattachine Society, an organization dedicated to fighting for gay rights, entered Julius’, proclaimed their sexual identity and asked for drinks. They were denied service, and it was the start of a movement known as the “Sip-In.” Today, Julius’ is one of the most well-known gay bars in the city.

The Compton’s Cafeteria Riot

The Compton’s Cafeteria Riot was before the Stonewall Riots

A plaque commemorating the Compton’s Cafeteria riot, one of the first riots related to LGBTQ rights, even before the famous Stonewall riots of 1969.

The Stonewall Inn

The Stonewall Inn

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The Stonewall Inn located in Manhattan, New York, was where the Stonewall riots of 1969 took place. The riots, which occurred after police raided the gay bar, helped spark the gay rights movement throughout the United States.

Leonard Matlovich becomes the first openly gay service member

Leonard Matlovich becomes the first openly gay service member

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A display featuring Leonard Matlovich, the first openly gay service member to fight the ban on gays in the military, is seen during the grand opening of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender History Museum in San Francisco.

Marchers fight for inclusion of gay rights in the Civil Rights Act of 1968

Marchers fight for inclusion of gay rights in the Civil Rights Act of 1968

Peter Keegan/Stringer/Hulton Archive via Getty Images

The National Gay Task Force, renamed the National LGBTQ Task Force, can be seen here marching in New York in 1975 in favor of the 1968 Civil Rights Act being amended to include gay rights.

First gay pride parade in Paris

First gay pride parade in Paris

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People holding signs and a banner reading “Homosexual Liberation Group, Politics and Daily Life” during the first gay pride parade in Paris in 1977.

Harvey Milk becomes the first openly gay elected official in California

Harvey Milk becomes the first openly gay elected official in California

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Harvey Milk was the first openly gay man voted into public office in California in 1977 when he was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. In this photo, the Harvey Milk Forever stamp is revealed during a ceremony in the Old Executive Office Building in Washington, D.C.

Gilbert Baker designs the gay pride flag

Gilbert Baker designs the gay pride flag

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Gilbert Baker designed the most internationally known symbol for the gay culture, the rainbow flag, in 1978. Here, Baker carries an 820-foot-long rainbow flag at the Stockholm Pride Parade in Sweden.

Fighting for gay rights bill

Fighting for gay rights bill

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A marcher in New York carrying a banner demanding that a gay rights bill, which guarantees homosexuals equal rights in employment, housing and public services, be passed by Congress in 1978.

The National March on Washington

The National March on Washington

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The first National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights took place in 1979. This photo shows a converted U.S. flag with rainbow colors as people relax on the grass after the fourth annual National March for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Rights in 2000.

A protest during New York’s Gay Day parade

A protest during New York’s Gay Day parade

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A crowd of gay rights protesters takes part in the Gay Day parade in New York City in 1980.

Sally Ride becomes the first LGBTQ astronaut

Sally Ride becomes the first LGBTQ astronaut

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American astronaut, physicist and engineer Sally Ride became the first American woman, and the first LGBTQ person, in space in 1983. However, Ride kept her sexuality private until her death in 2012.

Parents and friends show their support

Parents and friends show their support

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Parents and friends of lesbians and gays, also known as PFLAG, are seen here taking part in the 1983 Pride parade in New York City on the 13th anniversary of the founding of the Gay Alliance Association.

The Gay Liberation Monument

The Gay Liberation Monument

Massimo Salesi/Shutterstock

The Gay Liberation Monument was made by George Segal and erected in Christopher Square Park, Greenwich Village, New York, in 1992. It honors the events that occurred at the Stonewall Inn.

Advocating gay rights in Washington, DC

Advocating gay rights in Washington, DC

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Hundreds of thousands of gay rights demonstrators march down Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C., in 1993.

AIDS Memorial Quilt

AIDS Memorial Quilt

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In April 1993, volunteers for the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt gathered in front of the Washington Monument in Washington, D.C., to unfold a panel with the names of people who died of AIDS.

Ellen DeGeneres becomes first openly gay lead character on TV

Ellen DeGeneres becomes first openly gay lead character on TV

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Ellen DeGeneres is seen here after she was nominated for an Emmy in the category of Lead Actress in a Comedy Series for her role in "Ellen" in 1997. She was the first openly gay lead character on a primetime television show.

The world’s longest rainbow flag

The world’s longest rainbow flag

Andy Newman/Florida Keys News Bureau/Getty Images News via Getty Images

Volunteers helped to stretch the 1.25-mile-long "World's Longest Rainbow Flag" from the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic coast along Duval Street in Key West, Florida. The record-setting flag measures 8,000 feet long by 16 feet wide and used more than 14,000 square yards of fabric.

A plaque to remember the Stonewall riots

A plaque to remember the Stonewall riots

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A plaque marks the site of the Stonewall riots at the Stonewall Inn on Christopher Street in Manhattan, New York.

The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009

The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009

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President Barack Obama applauds the sisters of James Byrd Jr. and the parents of Matthew Shepard after speaking in honor of the enactment of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act during a reception in the East Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., in 2009.

The end of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’

The end of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’

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Local leaders and former members of the military hold a banner that marked the end of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell” in 2011. The end of this law allowed people of the LGBTQ community to openly serve in the armed forces.

The first LGBTQ museum in America

The first LGBTQ museum in America

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The GLBT Historical Society Museum, the first LGBT museum in America, opens in San Francisco in 2011.

Laverne Cox is the first openly transgender person to be nominated for an Emmy

Laverne Cox is the first openly transgender person to be nominated for an Emmy

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Laverne Cox was the first openly transgender person to be nominated for an Emmy in 2014. She was also the first trans woman of color to have a lead role on a mainstream television show through her show “Orange Is the New Black.”

Same-sex marriage legal in all 50 states

Same-sex marriage legal in all 50 states

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The San Francisco Pride parade took place two days after the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark decision to legalize same-sex marriage in all 50 states on June 26, 2015.

The Stonewall Inn becomes a national monument

The Stonewall Inn becomes a national monument

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Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor to President Barack Obama, stands with Congressman Jerrold Nadler as they unveil a plaque at a dedication ceremony officially designating the Stonewall Inn as a national monument to gay rights in Manhattan, New York, in 2016.

'Moonlight' wins an Oscar for Best Picture

Moonlight wins an Oscar for Best Picture

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Screenwriter Tarell Alvin McCraney and director Barry Jenkins, of “Moonlight,” are photographed holding their Academy Awards. In 2017, “Moonlight” became the first LGBTQ film to win an Oscar for Best Picture.

Kate McKinnon is the first openly lesbian 'SNL' cast member

Kate McKinnon is the first openly lesbian SNL cast member

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Kate McKinnon wins an Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for “Saturday Night Live” in 2017. She is the show's first openly lesbian cast member.

Gay sex legalized in India

Gay sex legalized in India

DOMINIQUE FAGET/Contributor/AFP via Getty Images

Indian members and supporters of the LGBT community take part in the country’s first gay Pride parade in New Delhi after the landmark ruling by the country's top court legalizing gay sex in 2018.

Marsha P. Johnson poster unveiled

Masha P. Johnson poster unveiled

TIMOTHY A. CLARY/Contributor/AFP via Getty Images

A poster depicting transgender activist Marsha P. Johnson is unveiled during an event at The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center in New York in 2019. The event was in honor of Johnson and fellow pioneering transgender activist Sylvia Rivera, who were key figures in the Stonewall uprising. If you’re not familiar with what the letters in LGBTQIA+ stand for, here is what each letter means.

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