Gay liberation

Gay liberation
Part of LGBT social movements
and the Sexual revolution
A color photograph of the Stonewall Inn, taken in the summer of 2016; the doorway and windows are decorated with rainbow flags
Gay liberation demonstration in 1970
Date1969 – c. 1980
Location
United States, Canada, Europe, and other areas
Caused byHomophobia
GoalsIncreasing legal rights for LGBT people
Increasing acceptance of LGBT people
Countering internalized homophobia
MethodsCivil resistance
Coming out
Consciousness raising
Direct action
Resulted inSuccess at many of the aims
Legalized same-sex marriage and other LGBT rights in some jursidictions
Backlash
Continuing widespread homophobia
Lower-case lambda, first used in 1970 as a symbol representing Gay rights.[1][2]

The gay liberation[a] movement is a social and political movement of the late 1960s through the mid-1980s[b] that urged lesbians and gay men to engage in radical direct action, and to counter societal shame with gay pride.[7] In the feminist spirit of the personal being political, the most basic form of activism was an emphasis on coming out to family, friends and colleagues, and living life as an openly lesbian or gay person.[7]

The Stonewall Inn in the gay village of Greenwich Village, Manhattan, would be the site of the June 1969 Stonewall riots, and become the cradle of the modern LGBT rights and gay liberation movement.[8][9][10]In this period, annual political marches through major cities, usually held in June (to commemorate the Stonewall uprising) were still known as "Gay Liberation" marches. It wasn't until later in the seventies (in urban gay centers) and well into the eighties in smaller communities, that the marches began to be called "gay pride parades."[7] The movement involved the lesbian and gay community in North America, South America, Western Europe, Australia and New Zealand.

Gay liberation is also known for its links to the counterculture of the time (e.g. groups like the Radical Faeries) and for the gay liberationists' intent to transform or abolish fundamental institutions of society such as gender and the nuclear family;[7] in general, the politics were radical, anti-racist, and anti-capitalist in nature.[11] In order to achieve such liberation, consciousness raising and direct action were employed. While HIV/AIDS activism and awareness (in groups such as ACT UP) radicalized a new wave of lesbians and gay men in the 1980s, and radical groups have continued to exist, by the early 1990s the radicalism of gay liberation was eclipsed in the mainstream by newly-out, assimilationist, white gay men who stressed civil rights and mainstream politics.[3]

The term gay liberation sometimes refers to the broader movement to free LGBT people from social and legal oppression.[12][13] Sometimes the term gay liberation movement is even used synonymously or interchangeably with the gay rights movement.[14] The Christopher Street Liberation Day Committee was formed in New York City to commemorate the first anniversary of the June 1969 Stonewall riots, the beginning of the international tradition of a late-June event to celebrate gay pride.[15] The annual gay pride festivals in Berlin, Cologne, and other German cities are known as Christopher Street Days or "CSD"s.

Origins and history of movement

Although the Stonewall riots of 1969 in New York are popularly remembered as the spark that produced a new movement, the origins predate these iconic events.[16] Militant resistance to police bar-raids was nothing new: as early as 1725, customers fought off a police raid at a London homosexual/transgender molly house. Organized movements, particularly in Western Europe, have been active since the 19th century, producing publications, forming social groups and campaigning for social and legal reform. The movements of the period immediately preceding gay liberation, from the end of World War II to the late 1960s, are known collectively as the homophile movement. [17]The homophile movement has been described as "politically conservative", although its calls for social acceptance of same-sex love were seen as radical fringe views by the dominant culture of the time.