JUNE IS PRIDE MONTH
The sun isn’t the only thing that comes out in June. Rainbow flags also start appearing in corporate office windows, coffee shops, and your neighbor’s front yard. June has been an unoffcial month of the LGBT community for decades. Though the origins of Pride Month span back to the ’50s, President Bill Clinton offcially made it “Gay and Lesbian Pride Month” in 2000. President Barack Obama made it more inclusive in 2011, calling it Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month. No matter what you call it, Pride Month has a rich history that informs how it’s observed today.
THE EARLY GAY RIGHTS MOVEMENT
The gay rights movement in the United States has seen huge progress in the last century, and especially the last two decades. Laws prohibiting homosexual activity have been struck down; lesbian, gay and bisexual individuals are now allowed to serve openly in the military (transgender individuals were allowed to serve openly from 2016 until March 2018, when a new ban was put in place). And same-sex couples can now legally get married and adopt children in all 50 states. But it has been a long and bumpy road for gay rights proponents, who are still advocating for employment, housing and transgender rights.
GAY RIGHTS IN THE 1960s
The gay rights movement saw some early progress in the 1960s. In 1961, Illinois became the first state to decriminalizing homosexuality, and a local TV station in California aired the first documentary about homosexuality, called The Rejected.
In 1965, Dr. John Oliven, in his book Sexual Hygiene and Pathology, coined the term “transgender” to describe someone who was born in the body of the incorrect sex.
Despite progress, LGBT individuals lived in a kind of urban subculture and were routinely subjected to harassment and persecution, such as in bars and restaurants. In fact, gay men and women in New York City could not be served alcohol in public due to liquor laws that considered the gathering of homosexuals to be “disorderly.”
THE STONEWALL INN
In 1969, a now-famous event catalyzed the gay rights movement: The Stonewall Riots.
The clandestine gay club, Stonewall Inn, was an institution in Greenwich Village because it was large, cheap, allowed dancing and welcomed drag queens and homeless youths.
But in the early hours of June 28, 1969, New York City police raided the Stonewall Inn. Fed up with years of police harassment, patrons and neighborhood residents began throwing objects at police as they loaded the arrested into police vans. The scene eventually exploded into a full-blown riot, with subsequent protests that lasted for five more days.
On the first anniversary of the police raid on the Stonewall Inn, gay activists in New York organized the Christopher Street Liberation March to cap off the city’s first Gay Pride Week. As several hundred people began marching up 6th Avenue toward Central Park, supporters from the crowd joined them. The procession eventually stretched some 15 city blocks, encompassing thousands of people.
Inspired by New York’s example, activists in other cities, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston and Chicago, organized gay pride celebrations that same year. The frenzy of activism born on that first night at Stonewall would eventually fuel gay rights movements in Canada, Britain, France, Germany, Australia and New Zealand, among other countries, becoming a lasting force that would carry on for the next half-century—and beyond.
A CULTURE OF INCLUSION
I'M AN ALLY
Did you know that Hyve Solutions supports the United Nations Free and Equal (UNFE) Standards of Conduct for Business? Hyve has pledged to meet its responsibility to respect everyone’s rights – including, in this case, the rights of lesbian, gay, bi, trans and intersex (LGBTI) people in the workplace. Learn more about the UN efforts HERE.
Ever wonder how the push for LGBT rights started at the UN? Watch the story unfold!
HOW YOU CAN CELEBRATE PRIDE THIS YEAR
Celebrations this year will look very different because of the coronavirus pandemic and the protests that have swept the nation following the killing of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis police. Therefore, many of the traditional Pride parades have been canceled or postponed. In some cases, Pride organizers have joined forces with the Black Lives Matter organization to show solidarity with their black brothers and sisters, specifically the black trans women who can be credited with beginning the Gay Rights movement.
- CELEBRATE VIRTUALLY. The Human Rights Campaign has compiled a list of ways to celebrate without the usual in-person gatherings here.
- GET INVOLVED. Whether it’s working for a phone or text bank or attending town halls virtually, make your voice known!
- INVESTIGATE WHAT PRIDE ACTIVITIES ARE TAKING PLACE IN YOUR TOWN.
- Check out SFPride, Memphis Pride Fest, or Birmingham Pride and join in!
- LEARN ABOUT WHAT YOU CAN DO TO BE AN ALLY.
OUTBREAK OF AIDS
The outbreak of AIDS in the United States dominated the struggle for gay rights in the 1980s and early 1990s. In 1981, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published a report about five previously healthy homosexual men becoming infected with a rare type of pneumonia.
By 1984, researchers had identified the cause of AIDS—the human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV—and the Food and Drug Administration licensed the first commercial blood test for HIV in 1985. Two years later, the first antiretroviral medication for HIV, azidothymidine (AZT), became available.
Gay rights proponents held the second National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights in 1987. The occasion marked the first national coverage of ACT UP (AIDS Coalition To Unleash Power), an advocacy group seeking to improve the lives of AIDS victims.
The World Health Organization in 1988 declared December 1 to be World AIDS Day. By the end of the decade, there were at least 100,000 reported cases of AIDS in the United States.
GAY MARRIAGE AND BEYOND
In 1992, the District of Columbia passed a law that allowed gay and lesbian couples to register as domestic partners, granting them some of the rights of marriage (the city of San Francisco passed a similar ordinance three years prior and California would later extend those rights to the entire state in 1999).
Though LGBT Americans now have same-sex marriage rights and numerous other rights that seemed farfetched 100 years ago, the work of advocates is not over.
Universal workplace anti-discrimination laws for LGBT Americans is still lacking. Gay rights proponents must also content with an increasing number of “religious liberty” state laws, which allow business to deny service to LGBT individuals due to religious beliefs, as well as “bathroom laws” that prevent transgender individuals from using public bathrooms that don’t correspond to their sex at birth.
THE HOMOSEXUAL SPORTS COMMUNITY
Much like the LGBT community at large, the homosexual sports community has struggled with recognition, rights, and acceptance. However, following the Stonewall riots there has been marginal and gradual improvement in the rights and acceptance of homosexual athletes coming out as lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender. In the past, an athlete who made the decision to come out was, in essence, committing career suicide, and would risk losing support from fans who come from more conservative or intolerant backgrounds.
Throughout history, however, there have been athletes who have proudly stood up for who they are, and who have been supported by their teammates and fans.
From Rugby to Golf, here is a short list of past and present athletes who have come out as LGBTQ.
Adam Rippon made history as the first openly gay American male figure skater to win a medal at the Winter Olympics. Rippon made headlines for publicly denouncing Vice President Mike Pence as the leader of the diverse U.S. delegation to South Korea due to his anti-LGBT positions. Since the Olympics, Rippon competed in and won Dancing with the Stars, acted in an episode of Will & Grace, and has continued to voice his political opinions around LGBT+ rights. Although retired from figure skating, Rippon continues his activism by leading GLAAD’s youth engagement campaign. According to him, “to have somebody out there that I could’ve looked up to, it would’ve made a world of difference, and it would’ve changed my life.” Rippon was recognised with the HRC Visibility Award for his LGBT+ advocacy.
Welsh rugby star Gareth Thomas became one of the first known active gay athletes when he publicly acknowledged his sexuality in 2009. Thomas was recently the victim of a homophobic attack in Cardiff, and upon his request, the 16-year-old boy who abused him was dealt with by way of restorative justice. Thomas felt that this was the best way for his attacker to learn. Rugby players from across the globe rallied behind Thomas as part of the Rainbow Laces campaign that the charity Stonewall UK began in 2013.
Freestyle skier Gus Kenworthy who came out as gay in an ESPN article in 2015 had the most iconic LGBT+ sports moment in 2018 when he kissed his boyfriend Matt Wilkas on live TV. According to him, “The only way to really change perceptions, to break down barriers, break down homophobia, is through representation. That’s definitely not something I had as a kid. I never saw a gay athlete kissing their boyfriend at the Olympics. I think if I had, it would’ve made it easier for me.”
In 2015 Keegan Hirst became the first British rugby league player to come out as gay. He also became the first British Rugby League player to take to the pitch as an out gay man, receiving an overwhelmingly positive reaction from fans and fellow players alike. “I think visibility of any kind is really important, whether it’s role models or campaigns like Rainbow Laces,” says Hirst who has been a champion for LGBT+ equality in the sports world. He also believes that although the rugby league may appear to be a ‘macho’ sport to the outside world, it is hugely inclusive. Hirst has also appeared as a dater on Channel 4’s dating show First Dates.
It’s never too late to come out of the closet. The LGBT+ community will support people who want to live their truth, whenever they decide to live it. In 2017, former Olympic swimmer Mark Foster revealed he was gay. “I tiptoed around the issue for so long,” he said, “I got really good at the dance of telling half-truths.” The swimmer began seeing a therapist in 2017 and decided that now was the time to share his feelings. Despite living an openly gay life to friends and family, he’d hid his identity as a sportsman. Foster has supported the Terence Higgins Trust, Stonewall and Ben Cohen’s Stand Up to Bullying Campaign. Foster has recently admitted that his life is “much easier now.”
In an interview with Athlete Ally in December 2018, Mel Reid who has won six times on the Ladies European Tour and has two top-10 finishes on the LPGA Tour came out as gay. For the longest time she protected her sexuality as a means to advance her career and as a result of the fear of losing sponsorship. According to Reid, she acknowledges the influential power her platform has given her. “I’ve just reached a point in my life where I feel like my true, authentic self,” Reid said. “If my story helps one person, then I feel like it’s a good cause. There is only one of you in the world and you have one life, so be the best version of yourself and be proud of who you are.”
Nicola Adams OBE is Great Britain’s most successful female boxer of all time. At the London 2012 Olympic Games she became an icon after winning her country’s first ever female boxing Gold medal as an openly LGBT person, a feat she repeated in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro to become the first British boxer to successfully defend their Olympic title for 92 years. Adams is openly bisexual and was named the most influential LGBT person in Britain by The Independent in 2012. In recognition of her services to boxing and unprecedented achievements, Nicola was appointed MBE (Most of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) in 2013 and OBE (Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) in 2016.
Parinya Charoenphol (also known as Nong Toom) is a Thai boxer, former Muay Thai champion, model and actress who underwent gender affirmation surgery at the age of 18. As a child, she was already aware of her gender-identity, and after a short period as a Buddhist monk, she started to train as a boxer. Subject of the 2003 film Beautiful Boy, she has challenged gender stereotypes within the male-dominated sport of Muay Thai and the conservative social underpinnings thereof. Nong Toom is currently an actress and model and teaches Muay Thai and aerobics to 80 children at the Baan Poo Yai School.
Tadd Fujikawa, the youngest player to ever compete in the U.S. Open, became the first male professional golfer to publicly come out as gay. Fujikawa, a native of Hawaii, said that he was inspired to tell his story on World Suicide Prevention Day. In an Instagram post, he said that through his coming out, he hopes to “inspire each and every one of you to be more empathetic and loving towards one another.” He decided to come out so that others like him wouldn’t feel alone. “My purpose in life is more than golf. Golf is a huge part of it, but what drives me is my passion to change lives, and I want to empower people to be their best.”
British gravity bike champion Zack Leader came out publicly as gay via Instagram on Jan. 1 2018, taking the opportunity of the new year to start anew. According to Leader, he worried that coming out would “hinder me from getting sponsors and maybe even signed by teams in the future; that team managers wouldn’t want the hassle and so wouldn’t bother, regardless of how good I may be.” However, by coming out he hopes to inspire others and provide LGBT+ sportsmen some necessary representation. Leader won British Evo Gravity Bike Championships in 2016 and 2017.
Casey Jean Stoney MBE (Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) is an English professional football manager and former player who is the head coach of WSL (Women’s Super League) Club Manchester United. A versatile defender, she was capped more than 100 times for the England women’s national football team since making her debut in 2000.
- 1951 First known British trans woman to undergo reassignment surgery and have her birth certificate changed.
- 1958 The Homosexual Law Reform Society is founded to campaign the legislation of same-sex relationships in UK.
- 1967 The Sexual Offences Act decriminalises sex between two men over 21 and ‘in private.’ It did not extend it to the Armed Forces, or in Scotland, Northern Island, the Channel Island or the Isle of Man.
- 1969 The Stonewall riots in America, a series of spontaneous, violent demonstrations by members of the LGBT community against a police, started as a reaction to police raiding the Stonewall Inn in Manhattan. This key event triggers the modern LGBT liberation movement in the US and beyond.
- 1971 The Nullify of Marriage Act was passed, explicitly banning same-sex marriages in England and Wales.
- 1972 The first Pride is held in London, attracting approximately 2,000 participants.
- 1975 The Liberal Party became first UK political party to support LBGT rights, passing a motion to support full equality for homosexuals, including equalising the age of consent.
- 1977 A bill to reduce the age of consent to 18 is defeated in UK House of Lords.
- 1980 The first black gay and lesbian group is formed in the UK.
- 1981 The first UK case of AIDS was recorded suffering PCP pneumocystis Carinii pneumonia, he died 10 days later.
- 1983 Gay men are asked not to donate to UK blood banks amid the AIDS crisis. 2011 the department of health lifts the lifetime ban on gay men donating blood although a 12-month celibacy clause is still in place to be eligible.
- 1987 The International Foundation for Gender Education (IFGE) is founded to promote acceptance for transgender people.
- 1988 Stonewall UK is formed on 24th May in response to Section 28 of the local government act. Section 28 was a British law that prohibited the “promotion of homosexual.”
- 1988 Denmark becomes the first country in the world to give legal recognition to same-sex partnerships.
- 1990 Lesbian and gay police officers established the UK lesbian and gay police association.
- 1990 Footballer Justin Fashanu becomes the first professional footballer to come out as gay, he later dies of suicide.
- 1992 World Health Organisation declassifies same-sex attraction as a mental illness.
- 1992 Stonewall begins its major campaign for an equal age of consent UK. 1994 The House of Lords defeats the clause.
- 1999 Trans Day of Remembrance is founded in the USA, and then later in the UK and worldwide, to memorialise those who have been murdered as a result of transphobia and to bring attention to the continued violence endured by the trans community.
- 2000 UK government lifts the ban on lesbians, gay men and bi people serving in the armed forces.
- 2001 The of age consent is lowered in the UK to 16, making it the same as the age of consent for straight people.
- 2002 Equal rights in the UK are granted to same-sex couples for adoption. 2005 this comes into force allowing unmarried couples, including same-sex to couples, to apply for joint adoption.
- 2003 Section 28 is repealed in England, Wales and Northern Island, lifting the ban on local authorities from ‘the teaching in any maintained school of the acceptability of homosexuality.’
- 2003 Employment Equality becomes law in the UK, making it illegal to discriminate against LGBT people in the workplace.
- 2004 The Civil Partnership Act 2004 is passed, granting civil partnerships in the UK. The Act gives same-sex couples the same rights as married straight people in England, Scotland, Northern Island and Wales. 2011 permits the celebration of civil partnerships in religious buildings in the UK.
- 2005 Stonewall launches the education for all campaign to tackle homophobic bullying in schools.
- 2010 10 years after the ban on lesbian, gay and bi people in the military is lifted, all armed forces are members of Stonewall’s Diversity Champions Programme.
- 2012 Stonewall begins working with human rights defenders to campaign in over 80 countries.
- 2013 Marriage Same-Sex Couple Act is passed in England, Wales, Scotland and New Zealand. 2014 it officially comes into force, in Ireland in 2015, and for the Isle of Man in 2016.
- 2014 Malta recognised same-sex civil unions; Italy does so in 2016.
- 2015 The US legalises same-sex marriage.
- 2016 North Carolina introduces Law HB2, which forces people to use public toilets or changing facilities that correspond with the gender they were assigned at birth resulting in many celebrities speak out and cancel scheduled appearances in protest.
- 2016 President Obama declares the Stonewall Inn in America’s first national monument to LGBT rights.
- 2017 Amendments made to the Children and Social Work Bill, which will make relationships and sex education mandatory in all schools in England and Wales by 2019.
- 2017 US Supreme Court orders all 50 states to treat same-sex couples equally to opposite-sex couples in the issuance of birth certificates – making adoptions by same-sex couples legal.
How WWI Sparked the Gay Rights Movement: Smithsonian
First gay rights group in the US (1924): Chicago Tribune
Chicago’s Henry Gerber House Designated a National Historic Landmark: U.S. Department of the Interior
Harry Hay, Early Proponent of Gay Rights, Dies at 90: The New York Times
Transgender: Transgender Studies Quarterly
LGBT Rights Milestones Fast Facts: CNN
Stonewall Riots Photo: History Channel
National March on Washington for Gay and Lesbian Rights Photo: NBC News
ACT UP Photo: Museum of the City of New York
Casey Stone Photo: The Irish Sun