What is the history of the LGBT community in the anglophone world?

Chad G. Peters

The history of the LGBT community in the anglophone world is a complex and multifaceted story that spans centuries. Here is a brief overview of some key milestones and events:

  1. Pre-20th Century: Throughout history, same-sex relationships and gender diversity have existed in various cultures around the world. However, attitudes towards homosexuality and gender nonconformity have varied widely. In the Anglophone world, homosexuality was often stigmatized and criminalized during the 18th and 19th centuries.
  2. Late 19th to Early 20th Century: The 20th century saw a growing awareness and discussion of homosexuality. In 1897, the British poet and writer Oscar Wilde was famously convicted of « gross indecency » and sentenced to imprisonment. His trial and subsequent treatment sparked discussions around the rights of homosexuals and the criminalization of homosexuality.
  3. 1950s-1960s: The post-World War II era marked a turning point for the LGBT rights movement. During this time, organizations like the Mattachine Society and the Daughters of Bilitis were formed in the United States. These early advocacy groups sought to address issues related to homosexuality and promote social acceptance.
  4. Stonewall Riots (1969): The Stonewall Inn was a gay bar in New York City. In June 1969, patrons of the bar fought back against police harassment, leading to several days of demonstrations known as the Stonewall Riots. This event is often considered the catalyst for the modern LGBT rights movement.
  5. 1970s-1980s: The 1970s and 1980s saw significant activism and political organizing in the LGBT community. The American Psychiatric Association removed homosexuality from its list of mental disorders in 1973. However, the emergence of the AIDS epidemic in the early 1980s brought devastating consequences for the LGBT community, leading to increased activism and awareness around HIV/AIDS.
  6. Late 20th Century: Throughout the late 20th century, various countries in the anglophone world began decriminalizing homosexuality and introducing anti-discrimination laws. In 1996, the United States federal government passed the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which defined marriage as a legal union between one man and one woman. This was eventually ruled unconstitutional in 2013 by the Supreme Court.
  7. 21st Century: The 21st century has seen significant advancements in LGBT rights in the anglophone world. Same-sex marriage has been legalized in several anglophone countries, including Canada (2005), the United States (2015), and the United Kingdom (2014 in England and Wales, 2014 in Scotland, and 2020 in Northern Ireland). There has also been progress in the recognition and protection of transgender rights.
  8. Ongoing Challenges: Despite progress, challenges persist for the LGBT community, including ongoing discrimination, violence, and the fight for equal rights and acceptance.

It’s important to note that the history of the LGBT community is not uniform across all anglophone countries, as cultural, social, and legal contexts have varied. Additionally, the experiences of LGBT individuals have been intersectional, meaning they may face discrimination and challenges related to their race, ethnicity, gender, and socioeconomic status in addition to their sexual orientation or gender identity.