A Queer History


The following is a timeline of major events for LGBT/queer people. This timeline is a living document, as I will be updating it as my own knowledge grows. Sources for the information can be found here.

2,000 BCE

  • Circa 2,000-1,000 BCE; The Summa alu is created: A collection of texts with ancient Mesopotamian origin, the omens include five references to homosexual sex acts.

19 BCE

  • Circa 19 BCE: Virgil’s The Aeneid is published: An epic poem written by Virgil describing the mythological founding of Rome, The Aeneid features the homoerotic relationship of Nisus and Euryalus, two men who serve under the hero Aeneas.

1049 CE

  • Circa 1049-1051 BCE; The Liber Gomorrihianus: Peter Damian, a Roman Catholic priest, publishes the Liber Gomorrihianus, condemning acts of sodomy (i.e. homosexuality), especially among clergy members.

1440 CE

  • Circa 1440s BCE; Donatello completes his DavidDonatello, considered to be homosexual, completes the first life-sized, free-standing bronze statue since the classical era. Named David, this piece is incredibly homoerotic and was produced for the Medici family.

1476 CE

  • April 8; Leonardo da Vinci is publicly denounced for sodomy: Seventeen-year-old Jacopo Saltarelli is charged with sodomy, and da Vinci is found to be one of his lovers. Penalties for homosexuality could be as severe as burning at the stake, but the charge against da Vinci would be dropped a few months later.

1513 CE

  • October 5; Forty Panamanian queer men are murdered by Vasco Núñez de Balboa: Native men who dress as women and engage in sexual behavior with other men are brutally ripped to pieces by Balboa’s mastiffs.

1865 CE

  • September; Bylaws for the Urning Union: Homosexual activist Karl Heinrich Ulrichs drafts a premature gay liberationist manifesto–“Bylaws for the Urning [homosexual] Union” with the goals of founding an Urning literature and pushing the publication of that literature.

1871 CE

  • May 15; Adoption of Paragraph 175 by the Second Reich: Kaiser Wilhelm I of Germany institutes the Second Reich, in which Paragraph 175 of the Prussian Penal Code is adopted. This law criminalizes acts of sex between men, and it will be later be used to persecute gay men during the Holocaust.

1895 CE

  • April 30; Oscar Wilde testifies at his first trial: Wilde defends “the love that dare not speak its name” during the first of three trials he would undergo for having sexual relationships with other men.

1934 CE

  • June 28; “The Night of the Long Knives”: Ernst Roehm, the gay leader of Adolf Hitler’s Sturmabteilung, and his associates are expelled from their positions on account of their homosexuality. Roehm is executed two days later.

1938 CE

  • April 4; Gay men begin to be sent to concentration camps: Nazi leader Heinrich Himmler orders that all convicted gay men can be sent directly to concentration camps. In 1940, he will revise this directive to order that gay men must be transferred to the camps.

1950 CE

  • November 11; The Mattachine Society is founded: Originally using the name Society of Fools, one of the earliest gay rights organization within the United States holds its first meeting.

1953 CE

  • April 27; The Lavender Scare: Prompted by the Red Scare beginning in 1950, President Eisenhower signs Executive Order 10450, which orders all gay and lesbian United States federal employees to be hunted down and fired.

1969 CE

  • June 28; Stonewall Riots: Police raid the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village of New York City. Patrons, enraged by the violence of the officers, take to Christopher Street and other neighboring areas, sparking six days of protests. This event is pointed to as the catalyst of the modern LGBT rights movement in the United States.

1973 CE

  • December 15; The American Psychiatric Association removes homosexuality from its list of mental illnesses: The APA removes Homosexuality and replaces it with Sexual Orientation Disturbance in its list of mental illness. Under this new terminology, only those considered “in conflict with” their sexual orientation would be labelled as mentally ill.

1980 CE

  • November 28; West Street Massacre: Former transit police officer Ronald Crumpley rampages through Greenwhich Village of New York City with a sub-machine gun, killing two gay men and wounding seven others.

1981 CE

  • June 5; AIDS first documented in the United States:  The CDC publishes a report which describes rare cases of lung infection, PCP, in five young, healthy gay men. By July 3, Kaposi’s Sarcoma, a rare and aggressive form of cancer, affected 41 gay men. As the year came to a close, 270 cases of immune deficiency among gay men had been reported, and 121 of these men had died.
  • August 11; The Gay Men’s Health Crisis is founded: The founding members of the GMHC meet in Larry Kramer’s apartment to create the first AIDS service organization in the world.

1982 CE

  • September 24: The term “AIDS” is used for the first time by the CDC: Acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) replaces gay-related immune deficiency (GRID) as the terminology for the ever growing AIDS epidemic.
  • September 29: Police Raid of Blues Bar in Time Square: Primarily frequented by Black and Latino gay men, the Blues Bar in New York City is raided by around 40 police officers. The patrons are brutally beaten by the officers, none of which are charged with a crime. The raid would never be covered by popular news, despite the bar being across the street from The New York Times.

1984 CE

  • March; Gaëtan Dugas named “Paitient O” in a CDC Study: Dugas, an Air Canada flight attendant, is linked to several cases of AIDS in the U.S. He would later be mislabeled as “Patient Zero” of the AIDS Epidemic, which a 2016 study published in Nature would correct by pointing out Dugas was one of many infected during the 1970s.

1985 CE

  • November 14; GLAAD is founded: The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) is created by a small group of journalists and writers in response to the stigmatizing and sentimentalized coverage of the HIV/AIDS Epidemic.

1986 CE

  • March 18; William F. Buckley Jr. calls for tattooing of those with HIV/AIDS: In an Op-Ed piece for The New York Times, Buckley writes, “Everyone detected with AIDS should be tatooed in the upper forearm, to protect common-needle users, and on the buttocks, to prevent the victimization of other homosexuals.”

1987 CE

  • September 5; The Homomunument is unveiled in Amsterdam: Funded entirely by the Dutch parliament and local/regional governments, this monument is the first to memorialize the gay and lesbian victims of the Holocaust.

2003 CE

  • June 26: Lawrence v. Texas: Sodomy laws in Texas and 13 other U.S. states are struck down for violating Fourteenth Amendment rights, making same-sex activity legal throughout the United States.

2015 CE

  • June 26; Obergefell v. Hodges: The U.S. Supreme Court rules 5-4 in favor of marriage equality, making it legal for same-sex couples to marry in all of the United States.