List of LGBT firsts by year
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This list of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) firsts by year denotes pioneering LGBT endeavors organized chronologically. Openly LGBT people remain a demographic minority in most places. In areas that historically are not known for having (or being friendly to) LGBT people who do not remain closeted, a "first" can make it easier for other openly LGBT persons to enter the field or for those who are closeted to come out. Openly LGBT people being visible in society affects societal attitudes toward homosexuality, bisexuality, and the transgender community on a wider level.
One commonly cited example is Harvey Milk, the first openly gay person to be elected to political office in California, becoming the most visible LGBT politician in the world in the 1970s, after decades of resistance to LGBT people by mainstream culture. Milk encouraged LGBT people to "come out of the closet" during his speeches; as a result of his work and his assassination—along with San Francisco mayor George Moscone—thousands of ordinary people did so. In 2002, Milk was called "the most famous and most significantly open LGBT official ever elected in the United States".
- 1 1800s to 1920s
- 2 1930s
- 3 1940s
- 4 1950s
- 5 1960s
- 6 1970s
- 7 1980s
- 8 1990s
- 9 2000s
- 10 2010s
- 11 2020s
- 12 See also
- 13 References
- 14 Bibliography
- 15 External links
1800s to 1920s
- the first issue of Der Eigene appears in Berlin, it is the first gay periodical worldwide (last issue 1932)
- Scientific-Humanitarian Committee formed in Berlin – it was one of the first gay rights organization.
- German journalist Anna Rüling, in a speech to the Scientific-Humanitarian Committee in Berlin, makes the first known public statement of the socio-legal problems faced by lesbians.
- The publication Les Mouches fantastiques, the first known LGB periodical in Canadian and North American history, is launched in Montreal, Quebec by poet Elsa Gidlow and journalist Roswell George Mills.
- Lesbian Elsa Gidlow, born in England, published the first volume of openly lesbian love poetry in the United States, titled "On A Grey Thread."
- Society for Human Rights – First gay rights organization in the United States (West Third). Published Friendship and Freedom, the first American gay publication.
- the first issue of 'Die Freundin (the girlfriend) appears; it was the first Lesbian magazine worldwide.
- Wings is released and includes the first on screen male-male kiss in cinema.
- In Berlin, Dora Richter, born as Rudolph Richter, is the first known transgender woman to undergo vaginoplasty.
- 'Mädchen in Uniform is released and is the first film with a pro-lesbian story.
- Mona's 440 Club, the first lesbian gay bar in America, opened in San Francisco. Mona's waitresses and female performers wore tuxedos and patrons dressed their roles.
- Actor William Haines, refuses to have an arranged wedding, and retires from acting to live with his partner Jimmie Shields until his death in 1973.
- Frances V. Rummell, an educator and a teacher of French at Stephens College, published an autobiography under the title Diana: A Strange Autobiography; it was the first explicitly lesbian autobiography in which two women end up happily together. This autobiography was published with a note saying, "The publishers wish it expressly understood that this is a true story, the first of its kind ever offered to the general reading public".
- Vice Versa – First lesbian-interest publication in the United States.
- The Mattachine Society founded in Los Angeles by Harry Hay becomes the first gay (men's) rights organization in the Americas.
- Christine Jorgensen (born in 1926 named George William Jorgensen, Jr.) a Euro-American became the first widely known person to have sex reassignment surgery.
- "Spring Fire," the first lesbian paperback novel, and the beginning of the lesbian pulp fiction genre, was published in 1952 and sold 1.5 million copies. It was written by lesbian Marijane Meaker under the false name Vin Packer, and ended unhappily.
- One Magazine publishes as the first gay men's magazine in the United States. Founded in Los Angeles, it would later transform into an education institution and then into The One Archives, one of the worlds largest and oldest surviving LGBT archives. (see ONE, Inc. )
- The Daughters of Bilitis (DOB) was founded in San Francisco in 1955 by four lesbian couples (including Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon) and was the first national lesbian political and social organization in the United States.
- The first gay leather bar, the Gold Coast, opened in Chicago in 1958.
- South, earliest known gay TV drama, broadcast in the UK, 24 November 1959
- Liverpool born April Ashley became Britain's first person to undergo sexual reassignment surgery
- Cpls. Fannie Mae Clackum and Grace Garner, U.S. Air Force reservists in the late 1940s and early 1950s, became the first people to successfully challenge their discharges from the U.S. military for being gay, although the ruling turned on the fact that there wasn't enough evidence to show the women were lesbians—rather than that there was nothing wrong with it if they were.
- Nancy Ledins (born William F. Griglak), an ordained Catholic priest, came out as a transgender woman, becoming the first openly transgender Catholic priest.
- José Sarria – first openly gay person to run for public office in the United States (San Francisco city-county supervisor).
- The Tavern Guild, the first gay business association in the United States, was created by gay bar owners in 1962 as a response to continued police harassment and closing of gay bars (including the Tay-Bush Inn raid), and continued until 1995.
- The first photograph of lesbians on the cover of lesbian magazine The Ladder appeared in September 1964, showing two women from the back, on a beach looking out to sea.
- Vanguard, an organization of LGBT youth in the low-income Tenderloin district of San Francisco, was created in 1965. It is considered the first Gay Liberation organization in the U.S.
- The first lesbian to appear on the cover of lesbian magazine The Ladder with her face showing was Lilli Vincenz in January 1966.
- In 1966 the first case to consider transsexualism in the US was heard, Mtr. of Anonymous v. Weiner, 50 Misc. 2d 380, 270 N.Y.S.2d 319 (1966). The case concerned a transsexual person from New York City who had undergone sex reassignment surgery and wanted a change of name and sex on their birth certificate. The New York City Health Department refused to grant the request, and the court ruled that the New York City and New Jersey Health Code only permitted a change of sex on the birth certificate if an error was made recording it at birth, so the Health Department acted correctly. The decision of the court in Weiner was affirmed in a case brought by Deborah Hartin, Mtr. of Hartin v. Dir. of Bur. of Recs., 75 Misc. 2d 229, 232, 347 N.Y.S.2d 515 (1973) and Anonymous v. Mellon, 91 Misc. 2d 375, 383, 398 N.Y.S.2d 99 (1977).
- Grupo Nuestro Mundo (English: "Our World Group") is formed in Greater Buenos Aires, the first gay rights organization in Argentina and Latin America.
- Craig Rodwell opens the Oscar Wilde Memorial Bookstore, the first bookstore devoted to gay and lesbian authors.
- In the aftermath of the Compton's Cafeteria riot, a network of transgender social, psychological, and medical support services was established, which culminated in 1968 with the creation of the National Transsexual Counseling Unit [NTCU], the first such peer-run support and advocacy organization in the world.
- Rev. James Lewis Stoll, M.Div. (January 18, 1936 – December 8, 1994), a Unitarian Universalist minister, is the first ordained minister of an established denomination to come out as gay. He leads the effort that convinced the Unitarian Universalist Association to pass their first-ever gay rights resolution in 1970.
1960s (year unknown)
- In the late 1960s in New York, Mario Martino founded the Labyrinth Foundation Counseling Service, which was the first transgender community-based organization that specifically addressed the needs of female-to-male transsexuals.
- The Greek letter lambda was selected as a symbol by the Gay Activists Alliance of New York in 1970.
- The first lesbian/feminist bookstore in the U.S. was the Amazon Bookstore Cooperative, which opened in Minneapolis in 1970. It later became True Colors bookstore (with a labrys acting as the "T,") but has since closed.
- On June 27, 1970, the first gay and lesbian pride parade in the world was held in Chicago, followed by a march in New York City and a parade in Los Angeles on June 28, 1970 to commemorate the anniversary of the Stonewall riots. Today such parades are held annually throughout the world.
- In September 1970, University of Southern California staff member Del Whan taught the first LGBTQ class at USC. Her class, entitled "Social Movement: Gay Liberation" was offered through the Experimental College. It soon evolved into a student group called The Gay Liberation Forum, the first gay and lesbian group on campus. After years of struggle the group was finally recognized by USC in 1975. It continues today under the name Queer and Ally Student Assembly.
- In 1970, the Task Force on Gay Liberation formed within the American Library Association. Now known as the GLBT Round Table, this organization is the oldest LGBTQ professional organization in the United States.
- Jim Morris – first openly gay IFBB professional bodybuilder
- In February 1971 Virginia Hoeffding and Del Whan of the Los Angeles Gay Liberation Front opened the Gay Women's Service Center in Echo Park. It was the first social service center for lesbian women in the country. Their listing in the phone book was the first time the word "Gay" had ever appeared in the directory.
- The University of Michigan became the first college in America to establish an LGBT office.
- In 1971, during a UCLA conference called "The Homosexual in America," Betty Berzon became the first psychotherapist in the country to come out as gay to the public.
- Frank Kameny became the first openly gay candidate for the United States Congress when he ran in the District of Columbia's first election for a non-voting Congressional delegate.
- Boys in the Sand was the first gay porn film to include credits, to achieve crossover success, to be reviewed by Variety, and one of the earliest porn films, after 1969's Blue Movie by Andy Warhol, to gain mainstream credibility, preceding 1972's Deep Throat by nearly a year. It was promoted with an advertising campaign unprecedented for a pornographic feature, premiered in New York City in 1971 and was an immediate critical and commercial success.
- December 1971: first off-Broadway play to discuss a romantic gay relationship, 'Nightride' by Lee Barton, opens.
- The Alice B. Toklas Democratic Club, founded in San Francisco in 1971, was the first gay Democratic club of the United States.
- February 14, 1972: the first meeting of the Alice B. Toklas Democratic Club, founded by political activist Jim Foster, took place in San Francisco, on Valentine's Day; it was the country's first gay Democratic political club.
- The first gay rights legislation enacted in America: March 7, 1972, the East Lansing, Michigan, city council approved by a vote of 4-to-1 an act declaring the city must seek to "employ the best applicant for each vacancy on the basis of his [sic] qualifications for the job and without regard to race, color, creed, national origin, sex or homosexuality."
- July 1972, the city of Ann Arbor, Michigan – home to University of Michigan – took East Lansing's measure (which was limited to government hiring) further, prohibiting discrimination against gays by public and private parties not only in employment, but in housing and public accommodations, as well – the first community-wide gay rights legislation in the nation. Ann Arbor's act was spurred by the election to the city council in 1972 of Jerry DeGrieck and Nancy Wechsler, who had run on the Human Rights Party ticket. Both would come out as gay in 1973.
- July 1972: Jim Foster became the first openly gay delegate to address a major party presidential nominating convention, the Democratic National Convention, held at the Miami Beach Convention Center in Miami Beach, Florida on July 10 to July 13.
- July 1972: Democratic presidential candidate George McGovern endorsed gay rights, the first US presidential candidate in history to do so; as a result, some party stalwarts denounced him.
- William Johnson became the first openly gay person to be ordained in a mainline Protestant denomination, the United Church of Christ.
- Nancy Wechsler and Jerry DeGrieck simultaneously became the first openly lesbian and openly gay elected officials in America. Both were recent graduates of the University of Michigan when they were elected to the Ann Arbor City Council in 1972 as members of the Human Rights Party. They came out in at a City Council meeting in October 1973 when the Chief of Police was in attendance. An anti-gay attack at a local bar had occurred the night before, which violated the recently passed Human Rights Ordinance, and they wanted to ask the Chief of Police why the Police who were called to the scene did not seem to be aware of the contents of the ordinance.
- Camille Mitchell became the first open lesbian to be awarded custody of her children in a divorce case, although the judge restricted the arrangement by precluding Ms. Mitchell's lover from moving in with her and the children.
- Freda Smith became the first openly lesbian minister in the Metropolitan Community Church (she was also their first female minister).
- Madeline Davis became the first openly lesbian delegate elected to a major political convention when she was elected to the Democratic National Convention in Miami, Florida. She addressed the convention in support of the inclusion of a gay rights plank in the Democratic Party platform. In 1972 she also, along with Margaret Small, taught the first course on lesbianism in the United States (Lesbianism 101 at the University at Buffalo.) That year she also wrote and recorded "Stonewall Nation", the first gay pride anthem, which was produced on 45 rpm record by the Mattachine Society of the Niagara Frontier.
- Jobriath Boone became the first openly gay rock musician to be signed to a major record label, Elektra Records.
- Australian soap opera Number 96 features the first openly gay and regular character (played by Joe Hasham) on television anywhere in the world.
- Hawaii would become the first state to decriminalize consensual homosexual sex acts between adults, while Delaware became the sixth state in the nation to repeal its sodomy law.
- New York City Mayor John Lindsay issued an anti-bias order protecting city employees from discrimination based on homosexuality. Meanwhile, in San Francisco, the Board of Supervisors banned discrimination based on gender and sexual orientation for both the city and those doing business with the city.
- National Coalition of Gay Organizations called for the repeal of all legislative provisions that restrict the sex of persons entering into a marriage unit and extension of legal benefits of marriage to all persons who cohabit regardless of sex.
- The first gay studies program in the U.S. began at Sacramento State University in California.
- October 1972: first legal challenge for same-sex marriage; the U.S. Supreme Court declines to hear the appeal of Baker v. Nelson "for want of a substantial federal question" in a state court case where two men challenged Minnesota's refusal to approve their application for a marriage license.
- October 1972: Maryland becomes the first U.S. state to pass a statute banning marriage between homosexual couples
- November 1972: That Certain Summer aired on ABC, the first television screenplay to sensitively explore homosexuality through the story of an American housewife (Hope Lange) losing her husband (Hal Holbrook) to a young artist (Martin Sheen).
- American Psychiatric Association (APA) voted 13–0 to remove homosexuality from its DSM-II (the official list of psychiatric disorders). The APA also passed a resolution urging an end to all private and public discrimination against homosexuals.
- Beth Chayim Chadashim was founded in 1972 as the first LGBT synagogue in the world, and the first LGBT synagogue recognized by the Union for Reform Judaism.
- A Quaker group, the Committee of Friends on Bisexuality, issued the "Ithaca Statement on Bisexuality" supporting bisexuals. The Statement, which may have been "the first public declaration of the bisexual movement" and "was certainly the first statement on bisexuality issued by an American religious assembly," appeared in the Quaker Friends Journal and The Advocate in 1972. Today Quakers have varying opinions on LGBT people and rights, with some Quaker groups more accepting than others.
- The first gay bar to have clear windows in San Francisco was Twin Peaks Tavern, which removed its blacked-out windows in 1972.
- Sally Miller Gearhart became the first open lesbian to obtain a tenure-track faculty position when she was hired by San Francisco State University, where she helped establish one of the first women and gender study programs in the country.
- Lavender Country, an American country music band, released a self-titled album which is the first known gay-themed album in country music history.
- Pedro Felipe Ramírez, became the first gay Ministry of State in Chile.
- Jim Morris, became the first openly gay bodybuilder to win AAU Mr. America overall, most muscular, best arms, and best chest titles.
- Kathy Kozachenko – first openly gay or lesbian candidate to win public office in the United States (won a seat on the Ann Arbor, Michigan, city council) She was elected from the Human Rights Party, and replaced Nancy Wechsler, who did not run for re-election.
- Elaine Noble became the first openly gay or lesbian candidate ever elected to a state-level office in America when she was elected to the Massachusetts House of Representatives. She had come out as a lesbian during her campaign.
- Allan Spear – served almost thirty years in the Minnesota Senate, including nearly a decade as President of the Senate.
- Gay activists in Boston chose the purple rhinoceros as a symbol of the gay movement after conducting a media campaign in 1974. They selected this animal because, although it is sometimes misunderstood, it is docile and intelligent – but when a rhinoceros is angered, it fights ferociously. Lavender was used because it was a widely recognized gay pride color; the heart was added to represent love and the "common humanity of all people".
- Angela Morley became the first openly transgender person to be nominated for an Academy Award, when she was nominated for one in the category of Best Music, Original Song Score/Adaptation for The Little Prince (1974), a nomination shared with Alan Jay Lerner, Frederick Loewe, and Douglas Gamley.
- In December 1974, the lambda was officially declared the international symbol for gay and lesbian rights by the International Gay Rights Congress in Edinburgh, Scotland.
- The world's first gay softball league was formed in San Francisco in 1974 as the Community Softball League, which eventually included both women's and men's teams. The teams, usually sponsored by gay bars, competed against each other and against the San Francisco Police softball team.
- Minneapolis became the first city in the United States to pass trans-inclusive civil rights protection legislation.
- Clela Rorex, a clerk in Boulder County, Colorado, issued the first same-sex marriage licenses in the United States, issuing the very first of them to Dave McCord and Dave Zamora, on March 26, 1975. Six same-sex marriages were performed as a result of her giving out licenses, but all of the marriages were overturned later that year.
- Twelve women became the first group of women in Japan to publicly identify as lesbians, publishing one issue of a magazine called Subarashi Onna (Wonderful Women).
- In 1976 the first case in the United States which found that post-operative transsexuals could marry in their post-operative sex was decided. It was the New Jersey case M.T. v. J.T., 140 N.J. Super. 77, 355 A.2d 204, cert. denied 71 N.J. 345 (1976). Here the court expressly considered the English Corbett v. Corbett decision, but rejected its reasoning.
- Tom Gallagher became the first United States Foreign Service officer to come out as gay; he quit the Foreign Service after that, as he would have been unable to obtain a security clearance.
- On March 26, 1977, Frank Kameny and a dozen other members of the gay and lesbian community, under the leadership of the then-National Gay Task Force, briefed then-Public Liaison Midge Costanza on much-needed changes in federal laws and policies. This was the first time that gay rights were officially discussed at the White House.
- Anne Holmes became the first openly lesbian minister ordained by the United Church of Christ.
- Ellen Barrett became the first openly lesbian priest ordained by the Episcopal Church of the United States (serving the Diocese of New York).
- The first lesbian mystery novel in America was published: Angel Dance, by Mary F. Beal.
- Shakuntala Devi published the first study of homosexuality in India.
- The TV show Soap becomes the first sitcom to feature an openly gay character, Jodie Dallas played by Billy Crystal. Subsequently, Crystal becomes the first actor to play an openly gay character on a primetime TV Show.
- San Francisco hosted the world's first gay film festival in 1977.
- Peter Adair, Nancy Adair and other members of the Mariposa Film Group premiered the groundbreaking documentary on coming out, Word Is Out: Stories of Some of Our Lives, at the Castro Theatre in 1977. The film was the first feature-length documentary on gay identity by gay and lesbian filmmakers.
- Beth Chayim Chadashim became the first LGBT synagogue to own its own building.
- Harvey Milk – first openly gay or lesbian candidate elected to political office in California; seventh openly gay/lesbian elected official nationally (third man to be openly gay at time of his election)
- Allen Bennett became the first openly gay rabbi in the United States in 1978.
- Samois, the first lesbian S/M group in the United States, was founded.
- Robin Tyler became the first out lesbian on U.S. national television, appearing on a Showtime comedy special hosted by Phyllis Diller. The same year she released her comedy album, Always a Bridesmaid, Never a Groom, the first comedy album by an out lesbian.
- Gilbert Baker raised the first Rainbow Flag at San Francisco Pride on June 25, 1978.
- Elizabeth Ettorre completed the first Ph.D. on lesbians (The Sociology of lesbianism: female "deviance" and female sexuality) in the UK at the London School of Economics.
- The San Francisco Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band was founded by Jon Reed Sims in 1978 as the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Marching Band and Twirling Corp. Upon its founding in 1978, it became the first openly gay musical group in the world.
- San Francisco became the first city in America to have a recruitment drive for gay police officers, bringing in over 350 applications.
- Stephen Lachs – first openly gay judge appointed in the United States (Los Angeles County Superior Court)
- The first National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights was held in Washington, D.C. on October 14, 1979.
- The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence begins in San Francisco on the Saturday before Easter Sunday with three men in nuns' habits cadged from an Iowa City convent, becoming the first house of Sisters in a movement that now features over 50 houses in 12 countries, over 40 in North America.
- The Radical Faeries began with the first gathering on the grounds of a Hindu ashram in the Arizona desert.
- Esta Noche, a gay bar located at 3079 16th & Mission Street in San Francisco, was the first gay Latino bar in San Francisco, and first opened in 1979.
- Grady Quinn and Randy Rohl became the first known gay couple to attend a high school prom when they attended the Lincoln High School prom in Sioux Falls, South Dakota on May 23, 1979.
1970s (year unknown)
- Angela Douglas founded TAO (Transsexual/Transvestite Action Organization), which published the Moonshadow and Mirage newsletters. TAO moved to Miami in 1972, where it came to include several Puerto Rican and Cuban members, and soon grew into the first international transgender community organization.
- Lionel Blue became the first British rabbi to come out as gay.
- Becoming Visible: The First Black Lesbian Conference was held at the Women's Building, from October 17 to 19, 1980. It has been credited as the first conference for African-American lesbian women.
- Mary C. Morgan became the first openly gay or lesbian judge when she was appointed by California Governor Jerry Brown to the San Francisco Municipal Court.
- Ien Dales – first lesbian member of the cabinet of the Netherlands
- Tennis player Billie Jean King became the first prominent professional athlete to come out as a lesbian, when her relationship with her secretary Marilyn Barnett became public in a May 1981 "palimony" lawsuit filed by Barnett. Due to this she lost all of her endorsements.
- Randy Shilts was hired as a national correspondent by the San Francisco Chronicle, becoming "the first openly gay reporter with a gay 'beat' in the American mainstream press."
- A Sergeant of the New York City Police Department (Charles H. Cochrane Jr.) came out as gay during a city council hearing. This made him the first New York City Police Department member to publicly announce his homosexuality.
- Chris Dickerson – first openly gay professional bodybuilder to win the Mr. Olympia title.
- New York City police sergeant Charles H. Cochrane Jr. and former Fairview, New Jersey sergeant Sam Ciccone formed the first group targeted at the needs of gay members of law enforcement, the Gay Officers Action League (GOAL).
- Gerry Studds – first openly gay member of the United States House of Representatives. Admitted a past relationship with a page when confronted in Congress.
- Sally Ride first went into space this year. In 2012, she died, and her obituary revealed that Ride's partner of 27 years was a woman, Tam O'Shaughnessy, a professor emerita of school psychology at San Diego State University and childhood friend, who met Ride when both were aspiring tennis players. Ride had also been married to a man previously. Ride is thus the first and only known LGBT astronaut (until 2019).
- David Scondras was the first openly gay official elected to the Boston City Council.
- BiPOL, the first and oldest bisexual political organization, was founded in San Francisco by bisexual activists Autumn Courtney, Lani Ka'ahumanu, Arlene Krantz, David Lourea, Bill Mack, Alan Rockway, and Maggi Rubenstein.
- Chris Smith – first openly gay MP in the United Kingdom.
- Reconstructionist Judaism became the first Jewish denomination to allow openly lesbian and gay rabbis and cantors.
- On Our Backs, the first women-run erotica magazine and the first magazine to feature lesbian erotica for a lesbian audience in the United States, was first published in 1984 by Debi Sundahl and Myrna Elana, with the contributions of Susie Bright, Nan Kinney, Honey Lee Cottrell, Dawn Lewis, Happy Hyder, Tee Corinne, Jewelle Gomez, Judith Stein, Joan Nestle, and Patrick Califia.
- BiPOL sponsored the first bisexual rights rally, outside the Democratic National Convention in San Francisco. The rally featured nine speakers from civil rights groups allied with the bisexual movement.
- Liverpool-based soap opera, Brookside, featured the first openly gay character on a British TV series.
- Terry Sweeney became Saturday Night Live's first openly gay male cast member; Sweeney was "out" prior to being hired as a cast member.
- Dmitri Belser and Thomas White became the first openly gay couple to adopt an infant (adoption finalized in 1987).
- Becky Smith and Annie Afleck became the first openly lesbian couple in America granted legal, joint adoption of a child.
- Elsa, I Come with My Songs: The Autobiography of Elsa Gidlow is the first lesbian autobiography published where the author does not employ a pseudonym.
- Hill Street Blues featured the first lesbian recurring character on a major network; the character was a police officer called Kate McBride, played by Lindsay Crouse.
- Barney Frank – first U.S. congressman to come out as gay of his own volition.
- David Norris – first openly gay elected senator in the Republic of Ireland.
- A group of 75 bisexuals marched in the 1987 March On Washington For Gay and Lesbian Rights, which was the first nationwide bisexual gathering. The article "The Bisexual Movement: Are We Visible Yet?", by Lani Ka'ahumanu, appeared in the official Civil Disobedience Handbook for the March. It was the first article about bisexuals and the emerging bisexual movement to be published in a national lesbian or gay publication.
- Svend Robinson – first Canadian Member of Parliament to come out.
- Stacy Offner became the first openly lesbian rabbi hired by a mainstream Jewish congregation, Shir Tikvah Congregation of Minneapolis (a Reform Jewish congregation).
Wallace Swan, Minneapolis, Minnesota, became the first openly gay member of the United States Electoral College,
- Dallas S. Drake – first openly gay firefighter (Fire Motor Operator) in the upper Midwest (Burnsville Fire Department, Burnsville, Minnesota).
- Denmark – first country to legally recognize same-sex registered partnership.
- Ien Dales – first openly lesbian government minister in the Netherlands.
- Marcella Di Folco – world's first openly transgender person to be elected for an administrative role, as municipal Councillor in Bologna, Italy.
- Justin Fashanu – first professional footballer (soccer player) ever to identify himself publicly as gay (Swedish footballer Anton Hysén became the second in 2011).
- The oldest national bisexuality organization in the United States, BiNet USA, was founded in 1990. It was originally called the North American Multicultural Bisexual Network (NAMBN), and had its first meeting at the first National Bisexual Conference in America. This first conference was held in San Francisco in 1990, and sponsored by BiPOL. Over 450 people attended from 20 states and 5 countries, and the mayor of San Francisco sent a proclamation "commending the bisexual rights community for its leadership in the cause of social justice," and declaring June 23, 1990 Bisexual Pride Day.
- Dale McCormick became the first open lesbian elected to a state Senate (she was elected to the Maine Senate).
- Sherry Harris was elected to the City Council in Seattle, Washington, making her the first openly lesbian African-American elected official.
- The first lesbian kiss on television occurred; it was on L.A. Law between the fictional characters of C.J. Lamb (played by Amanda Donohoe) and Abby (Michele Greene).
- The first Southern Comfort Conference was held. The Southern Comfort Conference is a major transgender conference that takes place annually in Atlanta, Georgia. It is the largest, most famous, and pre-eminent such conference in the United States.
- The first officially recognized gay and lesbian hall of fame in the United States, the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame, was founded.
- Althea Garrison was elected as the first transgender state legislator in America, and served one term in the Massachusetts House of Representatives; however, it was not publicly known she was transgender when she was elected.
- The first Dyke March (a march for lesbians and their straight female allies, planned by the Lesbian Avengers) was held in Washington, D.C., with 20,000 women marching.
- The Triangle Ball was held; it was the first inaugural ball in America to ever be held in honor of gays and lesbians.
- Rand Hoch – Florida's first openly LGBT judge.
- Roberta Achtenberg became the first openly gay or lesbian person to be nominated by the president and confirmed by the U.S. Senate when she was appointed to the position of Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity by President Bill Clinton.
- Lea DeLaria was "the first openly gay comic to break the late-night talk-show barrier" with her 1993 appearance on The Arsenio Hall Show.
- In December 1993 Lea DeLaria hosted Comedy Central's Out There, the first all-gay stand-up comedy special.
- Deborah Batts – first openly gay or lesbian United States federal judge (United States District Court for the Southern District of New York)
- Liverpool-based soap opera, Brookside, broadcast the UK's first pre-watershed lesbian kiss.
- The Gay Asian Pacific Alliance and Asian Pacific Sister joined the Chinese New Year Parade in San Francisco, which was the first time that queer Asian American communities had attended in a publicly ethnic activity.
- Steve Gunderson was outed as gay on the House floor by representative Bob Dornan (R-CA) during a debate over federal funding for gay-friendly curricula, making him one of the first openly gay members of the U.S. Congress and the first openly gay U.S. Republican representative.
- Georgina Beyer – world's first transgender mayor (Carterton District, New Zealand)
- Rachel Maddow – first openly gay or lesbian American to win an international Rhodes Scholarship.
- Harvey Brownstone – first openly gay or lesbian judge appointed in Canada (Ontario Court of Justice)
- Ian Roberts became the first high-profile Australian sports person and first rugby footballer in the world to come out to the public as gay.
- Maria Zoe Dunning became the first and only openly gay person allowed to remain on active duty in the U.S. military prior to the end of the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy.
- The International Bear Brotherhood Flag was designed in 1995 by Craig Byrnes. Bear is an affectionate gay slang term for those in the bear communities, a subculture in the gay male community with its own events, codes, and culture-specific identity.
- Kings Cross Steelers, the world's first gay rugby club, was founded.
- Rabbi Margaret Wenig's essay "Truly Welcoming Lesbian and Gay Jews" was published in The Jewish Condition: Essays on Contemporary Judaism Honoring Rabbi Alexander M. Schindler; it was the first published argument to the Jewish community on behalf of civil marriage for gay couples.
- Ed Flanagan served as Vermont's State Auditor from 1993 through 2001, becoming the first openly gay, statewide-elected official in the United States when he came out in 1995, before his 1996 reelection.
- Michael Kirby – first openly gay judge of the High Court of Australia (appointed February 1996; named his male partner in his 1999 entry in "Who's Who in Australia")
- Bob Brown – first openly gay member of the Parliament of Australia (elected March, his term started July)
- South Africa – first country to explicitly prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation in its constitution.
- The first lesbian wedding on television occurred, held for fictional characters Carol (played by Jane Sibbett) and Susan (played by Jessica Hecht) on the TV show Friends.
- The first openly gay speaker at a Republican National Convention was Log Cabin Republicans member Steve Fong of California in 1996.
- Reverend Erin Swenson – first openly transgender mainstream (Presbyterian, USA) minister to have her ordination upheld after a gender transition from male to female.
- Muffin Spencer-Devlin became the first LPGA player to come out as gay.
- Ellen DeGeneres was the star of the situation comedy Ellen. In 1997, she came out as a lesbian on The Oprah Winfrey Show. Shortly afterwards, still in 1997, her TV series character Ellen Morgan also came out as gay in the fourth-season episode "The Puppy Episode", thus making DeGeneres the first openly lesbian actress to play an openly lesbian character on television.
- Angela Eagle, MP for Wallasey (Merseyside), became Britain's first 'out' lesbian MP
- Evelyn Mantilla came out as America's first openly bisexual state official in 1997 in Connecticut.
- Patria Jiménez became the first openly gay person to win a position in the Mexican Congress, doing so for the Party of the Democratic Revolution.
- Jay Fisette became the first openly gay person elected to public office in Virginia.
- The Gay and Lesbian Medical Association launched the Journal of the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association, the world's first peer-reviewed, multi-disciplinary journal dedicated to LGBT health.
- Paul Oscar became the first openly gay singer in the Eurovision Song Contest in Dublin.
- Jackie Biskupski – first openly gay elected official in Utah, won a seat in the Utah House of Representatives.
- Dana International – first transsexual to win the Eurovision Song Contest.[dubious ]
- Glen Murray – first out gay man to be elected mayor of a major city in the world: Winnipeg, the capital of Manitoba (population 700,000).
- Gender identity was added to the mission of Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays after a vote at their annual meeting in San Francisco. Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays is the first national LGBT organization to officially adopt a transgender-inclusion policy for its work.
- Tammy Baldwin became the first openly gay or lesbian non-incumbent ever elected to United States Congress, and the first open lesbian ever elected to Congress, winning Wisconsin's 2nd congressional district seat over Josephine Musser.
- The first bisexual pride flag was unveiled on Dec 5th, 1998.
- Julie Hesmondhalgh first began to play Hayley Anne Patterson, British TV's first transgender character (in Coronation Street).
- BiNet USA hosted the First National Institute on Bisexuality and HIV/AIDS.
- Georgina Beyer – first transsexual Member of Parliament (elected in 27 November New Zealand general election; representing the Wairarapa electorate)
- Stephen Brady and his partner Peter Stephens – world's first openly gay ambassadorial couple; accompanied by Stephens, Brady presented his credentials as Australian Ambassador to Denmark, to Queen Margrethe II on 15 February 1999
- James Hormel – first openly gay United States ambassador (sworn in June 1999)
- In 1999, the first Celebrate Bisexuality Day was organized by Michael Page, Gigi Raven Wilbur, and Wendy Curry.
- The Transgender Pride flag, created by transgender woman Monica Helms, was first shown, at a pride parade in Phoenix, Arizona.
- Civil unions were legalized in Vermont (the first state to do so) and Carolyn Conrad and Kathleen Peterson became the first couple in the United States to be civilly united.
- Hillary Clinton became the first First Lady to march in an LGBT pride parade.
- Rachel Maddow – first lesbian Rhodes Scholar
- Libby Davies – first female Canadian Member of Parliament to come out as a member of the LGBT community
- Klaus Wowereit – first elected mayor of Berlin as an openly gay German
- Bertrand Delanoë – first openly gay person to be elected mayor of Paris
- Netherlands – first country to legally recognize same-sex marriage.
- The UK's first ever televised gay wedding was screened live on air from Liverpool's Albert Dock on ITV's This Morning
- San Francisco became the first city in America to cover sex reassignment surgeries for government employees.
- The first memorial in the United States honoring LGBT veterans was dedicated in Desert Memorial Park, Cathedral City, California.
- Helene Faasen and Anne-Marie Thus, from the Netherlands, became the first two women to legally marry.
- Pim Fortuyn – the first openly gay candidate for Prime Minister of the Netherlands, assassinated nine days before election day, his sexual preference not being a motive.
- Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays established its Transgender Network, also known as TNET, as its first official "Special Affiliate," recognized with the same privileges and responsibilities as its regular chapters.
- Per-Kristian Foss – Minister of Finance, acting Prime Minister of Norway, thus being the first openly homosexual head of government in modern times. Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir, Prime Minister of Iceland, later became the first openly homosexual head of government, on an elected basis, in 2009.
- In 2002 at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in New York the Reform rabbi Margaret Wenig organized the first school-wide seminar at any rabbinical school which addressed the psychological, legal, and religious issues affecting people who are intersex or transsexual.
- Ang Ladlad – the first lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) political party
- David Cicilline – first openly gay mayor of a U.S. state capital (Providence, Rhode Island)
- Gene Robinson – first openly gay person to be ordained bishop in a major Christian denomination
- On 1 November 2003, Taiwan Pride, the first gay pride parade in the Chinese-speaking world, was held in Taipei, with over 1,000 people attending. It has taken place annually since then, but still, many participants wear masks to hide their identity because homosexuality remains a social taboo in Taiwan. However, the 2010 parade attracted 30,000 attendees and increasing media and political attention, highlighting the growing rate of acceptance in Taiwan. Since 2010, there has also been a pride parade in Kaohsiung, which attracted over 2,000 people.
- In 2003 Reuben Zellman became the first openly transgender person accepted to the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, where he was ordained in 2010.
- In 2003 the Reform rabbi Margaret Wenig organized the first school-wide seminar at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College which addressed the psychological, legal, and religious issues affecting people who are intersex or transsexual.
- Jennifer Finney Boylan's autobiography, She's Not There: A Life in Two Genders, was the first book by an openly transgender American to become a bestseller.
- Patrick Harvie became the first openly bisexual Member of the Scottish Parliament.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer showed girlfriends Willow Rosenberg and Tara Maclay in bed together, which though not a sex scene was considered the first scene of its kind for a broadcast network series.
- The first lesbian sex scene in broadcast TV history occurred, on Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
- The L Word featured television’s first ensemble cast of lesbian characters.
- Nicole LeFavour– first openly gay member of the Idaho Legislature, first as a Representative and then as a Senator.
- Bill Siksay – first openly gay Canadian elected to a first term as Member of Parliament
- Felipe "Alejandra" González Pino – First transgender councilman in Chile (Lampa commune)
- Oras Tynkkynen – first openly gay member of parliament in Finland. Initially appointed as a replacement for an MP who stepped down, was elected to his seat in 2007.
- The first all-transgender performance of The Vagina Monologues was held. The monologues were read by eighteen notable transgender women, and a new monologue revolving around the experiences and struggles of transgender women was included.
- Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon became the first same-sex couple to be legally married in the United States, when San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom allowed city hall to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples. However, all same-sex marriages done in 2004 in California were annulled. After the California Supreme Court decision in 2008 that granted same-sex couples in California the right to marry, Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon remarried, and were again the first same-sex couple in the state to marry. Later in 2008 Prop 8 illegalized same-sex marriage in California, but the marriages that occurred between the California Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage and the approval of Prop 8 illegalizing it are still considered valid, including the marriage of Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon. However, Del Martin died in 2008.
- Same-sex marriage was legalized in the state of Massachusetts, and Marcia Hams and Sue Shepard became the first same-sex couple to marry in Massachusetts.
- Karamo Brown started his career in television on the MTV reality series The Real World: Philadelphia in 2004, becoming the first out gay black man on reality TV.
- Same-sex marriage was legalized in part of Oregon, as after researching the issue and getting two legal opinions, the commissioners decided Oregon's Constitution would not allow them to discriminate against same-sex couples. The Chairwoman of the Board of Commissioners ordered the clerk to begin issuing marriage licenses. Mary Li of Portland and her partner, 42-year-old Becky Kennedy, became the first same-sex couple to marry in Oregon. However, later that year, Oregon voters passed a constitutional amendment defining marriage as involving one man and one woman. The same-sex marriages from 2004 were ruled void by the Oregon Supreme Court.
- James McGreevey, then governor of New Jersey, came out as gay, thus becoming the first openly gay state governor in United States history. He resigned soon after.
- Bisi Alimi became the first Nigerian to declare his homosexuality on television.
- Luna, by Julie Anne Peters, was the first young-adult novel with a transgender character to be released by a mainstream publisher.
- The first Trans pride march was held in San Francisco in 2004.
- Same-sex marriage legalized in Canada
- Bonnie Bleskachek became the first openly lesbian fire chief of a major metropolitan area in the United States (Minneapolis).
- Liverpool Register Office became the UK's first to include a gay couple on the front cover of civil ceremony promotional material
- Transgender activist Pauline Park became the first openly transgender person chosen to be grand marshal of the New York City Pride March, the oldest and largest LGBT pride event in the United States.
- The Simpsons became the first cartoon series to dedicate an entire episode to the topic of same-sex marriage.
- The first European Transgender Council Meeting was held in Vienna.
- Eli Cohen became the first openly gay man to be ordained a rabbi by the Jewish Renewal Movement.
- Andrew Goldstein was the first American male team-sport professional athlete to be openly gay during his playing career. He came out publicly in 2003 and was drafted by his hometown team, the Boston Cannons of Major League Lacrosse, in 2005. Goldstein played goaltender for the Long Island Lizards from 2005 to 2007, appearing in two games in 2006.
- Vladimir Luxuria first transgender person elected as Deputy to the Italian Parliament.
- Chaya Gusfield and Lori Klein, both ordained in America, became the first openly lesbian rabbis ordained by the Jewish Renewal movement.
- In the United Kingdom, since 2006 the Pink Jack has been widely used to represent a unique British Gay and Lesbian identity.
- In 2006 Kim Coco Iwamoto was elected as a member of the Hawaii Board of Education, making her at that time the highest ranking openly transgender elected official in the United States, as well as the first openly transgender official to win statewide office.
- Elliot Kukla, who came out as transgender six months before his ordination in 2006, was the first openly transgender person to be ordained by the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion.
- Arizona became the first state to reject a ban on same-sex marriage (it would have banned domestic partnerships and civil unions too) although it did accept one in 2008.
- State Rep. Patricia Todd, D-Birmingham, became Alabama's first openly gay public official when she was elected in 2006.
- Jenny Bailey – the first openly transgender mayor in the United Kingdom.
- Theresa Sparks – first openly transgender police commissioner (San Francisco). In 2003 Theresa Sparks had been the first openly transgender woman ever named "Woman of the Year" by the California State Assembly.
- Jalda Rebling, a German woman born in the Netherlands, became the first openly lesbian cantor ordained by the Jewish Renewal movement.
- From 2007 to 2008 actress Candis Cayne played Carmelita Rainer, a transgender woman having an affair with married New York Attorney General Patrick Darling (played by William Baldwin), on the ABC prime time drama Dirty Sexy Money. The role made Cayne the first openly transgender actress to play a recurring transgender character in prime time.
- Joy Ladin became the first openly transgender professor at an Orthodox Jewish institution (Stern College for Women of Yeshiva University).
- On 29 November, the first foreign gay wedding was held in Hanoi, Vietnam between a Japanese and an Irish national. The wedding raised much attention in the gay and lesbian community in Vietnam.
- Amaranta Gómez Regalado (for México Posible) became the first transsexual person to appear in the Mexican Congress.
- Ellen DeGeneres became the first open lesbian to host the Academy Awards.
- Ventura Place in Studio City was renamed Dr. Betty Berzon Place in her honor, making it the first street ever officially dedicated to a known lesbian in California.
- Rachel Maddow – first openly gay or lesbian anchor of a major prime-time news program in the United States, hosting The Rachel Maddow Show on U.S. cable network MSNBC.
- Tony Briffa was elected to public office as City Councillor, the first openly intersex person to be so elected.
- Silverton, Oregon elected Stu Rasmussen as the first openly transgender mayor in America.
- Angie Zapata, a transgender woman, was murdered in Greeley, Colorado. Allen Andrade was convicted of first-degree murder and committing a bias-motivated crime, because he killed her after he learned that she was transgender. This case was the first in the nation to get a conviction for a hate crime involving a transgender victim. Angie Zapata's story and murder were featured on Univision's Aqui y Ahora television show on November 1, 2009.
- The first ever U.S. Congressional hearing on discrimination against transgender people in the workplace was held, by the House Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions.
- At the request of a lesbian couple (Kitzen and Jeni Branting), the Coquille Indian Tribe on the southern Oregon coast adopted a law recognizing same-sex marriage. Tribal law specialists said the Coquille may be the first tribe to sanction such marriages.
- Same-sex marriage was legalized in Connecticut, and state Rep. Beth Bye and her girlfriend Tracey Wilson became the first same-sex couple to marry in Connecticut.
- Angela Eagle, MP for Wallasey (Merseyside), became the first female Member of Parliament to enter a civil partnership
- Kate Brown was elected as the Oregon Secretary of State in the 2008 elections, becoming America's first openly bisexual statewide officeholder.
- Eva Brunne became the first lesbian bishop in the world and the first bishop of the Church of Sweden to be in a registered same-sex partnership.
- Lesbian and Gay Band Association – first LGBT-represented contingent marching in a U.S. presidential inaugural parade. The parade on January 20 was in celebration of Barack Obama's incoming administration.
- Jared Polis – first male U.S. congressperson to be openly gay when first elected to office
- Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir – Prime Minister of Iceland, and the first openly homosexual head of government in modern times. (On an elected basis, in contrast to Per-Kristian Foss, who was briefly acting Prime Minister of Norway in 2002.)
- Carol Ann Duffy – first openly lesbian or gay Poet laureate of the United Kingdom.
- Alejandro Freyre and José María di Bello – first same-sex marriage in Latin America.
- Gareth Thomas – first openly gay professional rugby player still playing the game.
- Annise Parker was elected as the first openly LGBT mayor of Houston, Texas and the first LGBT mayor of a U.S. city with a population over 1,000,000.
- Diego Sanchez became the first openly transgender person to work on Capitol Hill; he was hired as a legislative assistant for Barney Frank. Sanchez was also the first transgender person on the Democratic National Committee's (DNC) Platform Committee in 2008.
- Barbra "Babs" Siperstein was nominated and confirmed as an at-large member of the Democratic National Committee, becoming its first openly transgender member.
- Kitzen and Jeni Branting married in the Coquille Indian tribe's Coos Bay plankhouse, a 3-year-old meeting hall built in traditional Coquille style with cedar plank walls. They were the first same-sex couple to have their marriage recognized by the tribe, of which Kitzen was a member.
- Same-sex marriage was legalized in Iowa, and Shelley Wolfe and Melisa Keeton became the first lesbian couple (and the second same-sex couple) to marry in Iowa.
- Same-sex marriage was legalized in Vermont, and Claire Williams and Cori Giroux became one of the first same-sex couples to marry in Vermont (others including them married the moment same-sex marriage was legalized).
- Guido Westerwelle became the first openly gay foreign minister and vice chancellor of Germany.
- All My Children featured daytime TV's first lesbian wedding.
- Simone Bell became the first African-American lesbian elected to serve in a U.S. state legislature.
- In September 2009, Vandy Beth Glenn delivered the first United States Congress testimony (before the House of Representatives) from an openly transgender witness, urging passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.
- In October 2009, LGBT activist Amy Andre was appointed as executive director of the San Francisco Pride Celebration Committee, making her San Francisco Pride's first openly bisexual woman of color executive director.
- Dylan Orr became the first openly transgender presidential appointee in America, when he was appointed as special assistant in the Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy.
- Orthodox Israeli rabbi Ron Yosef became in 2009 the first Israeli orthodox Rabbi to come out, which he did when appearing in Uvda ("Fact"), Israel's leading investigative television program, in an episode regarding conversion therapies in Israel. Yosef remains in his position as a pulpit Rabbi.
- Siddur Sha'ar Zahav, the first complete prayer book to address the lives and needs of LGBTQ as well as straight Jews, was published. Publisher: J Levine Judaica & Sha'ar Zahav (2009); ISBN 0-982197-91-8; ISBN 978-0982197-91-2. Sha'ar Zahav is a progressive Reform synagogue in San Francisco.
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