The Origins of the LGBT Movement in the U.S.

A History of the United States

by Joshua Hollands. Produced by Simon Brown, 31st January 2017

Coming Out

In this podcast from 2017, Joshua Hollands of University College London discusses the early LGBT civil rights movement in the United States from the end of World War II, through the Stonewall Riots to political mobilisation and Gay Pride.

In the years following the social disruption caused by WWII, there was an effort to re-establish tradition. This meant that many gay men and women were legally discriminated against. However, this also lead to the politicization of gay rights and organizations were created to protest. Hollands explains how gay rights campaigns were inspired by black civil rights movements and compares how the different groups approached police harassment. This podcast explores different key moments in the fight for gay rights. One of the most famous police raids occurred in 1969 at the Stonewall Inn in NYC, in which resistance, riots and violence ensued. This occasion triggered many to organize for protest and openly defy to sexual oppression. It wasn’t until 1973 that homosexuality was no longer marked as a psychological disorder. In these years, greater visibility achieved by the gay community also lead to greater violence, such as the notorious massacre in 1973 at a New Orleans gay bar. Many achievements were made by the gay community in the last few decades of the twentieth century, especially the passing anti-discriminatory laws. However, these achievements often lead to conservative backlash and at the end of the century there was still much work to be done.

This podcast is a valuable resource for an overview of American gay rights progress throughout the twentieth century. Since each of the exam boards covers civil rights in the US, students using any exam board will find it useful. Students studying with Edexcel will particularly utilize this resource, as the exam board covers gay rights over the entire century.

1. Introduction. WW2 and the Cold War.
2. Early politicisation
3. Stonewall
4. The 1970s: Gay Pride and Coming Out.
5. Immediate issues, greater visibility and electoral success.
6. An explosion of women organising.
7. Anti-discrimination and the Anita Bryant backlash.
8. Conclusion.
9. Harvey Milk.
10. Resistance to direct action.


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