It started back in 1969, according to the Library of Congress, at the Stonewall uprising in Greenwich Village, New York City. It was considered the tipping point for the Gay Liberation Movement in America.
The term “homosexual,” coined in 1869 by the Hungarian doctor Karoly Maria Benkert, who wrote under the pseudonym K.M. Kertbeny, was not in popular usage till the early twentieth century.
“Gay” emerged as an underground term in the early-twentieth century and came into popular usage in the 1960s.
The term “lesbian” comes from the Greek island of Lesbos, associated with the poet Sappho, whose surviving writing lyrically describes erotic love and attraction between women.
Since the 1990s, different versions of the initialism have proliferated as increasingly nuanced ways to understand and define people’s lived experience of gender and sexuality are articulated.
One expanded version of the initialism in use is LGBTQQIP2SAA, which stands for: lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex, pansexual, two spirit, asexual, and ally.
Although the June 28, 1969, Stonewall riots are generally considered the starting point of the modern gay liberation movement, a number of demonstrations and actions took place before that date. These actions, often organized by local homophile organizations but sometimes spontaneous, addressed concerns ranging from anti-gay discrimination in employment and public accommodations to the exclusion of homosexuals from the United States military to police harassment to the treatment of homosexuals in revolutionary Cuba. The early actions have been credited with preparing the LGBT community for Stonewall and contributing to the riots’ symbolic power. See: List of LGBT actions in the United States prior to the Stonewall riots
December 3, 1996 – Hawaii’s Judge Chang rules that the state does not have a legal right to deprive same-sex couples of the right to marry, making Hawaii the first state to recognize that gay and lesbian couples are entitled to the same privileges as heterosexual married couples.
May 17, 2004 – The first legal same-sex marriage in the United States takes place in Massachusetts.
September 20, 2011 – “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is repealed, ending a ban on gay men and lesbians from serving openly in the military.