Club highlights LGBTQ+ civil rights struggles

Hate crime info—David Bell talks about the hate crime enhancment act that went into effect in 1995. CN/ Alejandro Ambriz

By Alejandro Ambriz

Gender and Sexualities Alliance Club provided a presentation highlighting some of the most significant events in the LGBTQ+ civil rights movement. 

The spokesperson, professor and public interest lawyer David Bell went over the history of the movement back to its first documented organization. 

While the Stonewall riots are widely considered to be the beginning of the LGBTQ+ movement in the United States, Bell said that the Society for Human Rights in 1924 was actually the first documented gay rights organization. 

“As history starts to uncover, we learn more about who we are. Every year I do this, I find new information,” Bell said. 

After the Society for Human Rights, organizations such as the Mattachine Society and Daughters of Bilitis were created and hosted private social functions due to fear of police raids and threats of violence. 

They established safe spaces and advocated to decriminalize homosexuality. 

In 1961, Illinois became the first state to pass such an act by repealing their sodomy laws. 

It would not be until 1969, the year of the Stonewall riots, that LGBTQ+ civil rights really took off. 

For Jacob Rubio, president of the Gender and Sexualities Alliance, the Stonewall riots were the main catalyst for the movement and the one he heard about growing up. 

“It’s the one that provided a huge media presence and directed the people’s attention to this. It was just saying that we’re not going to go away, we want our rights, and we want to be treated as equals.” 

The Los Angeles Advocate, an LGBTQ+ newsletter, was renamed The Advocate in 1969 by the activist group Personal Rights in Defense and Education (PRIDE).

In the years that followed, more openly gay political candidates were elected to office, one of the key people being Harvey Milk. 

After being inaugurated as San Francisco city supervisor, he was murdered along with Mayor George Moscone. 

Gilbert Baker was inspired by Harvey Milk and stitched together the first rainbow flag in 1978. 

Since then, LGBTQ+ rights have passed through Supreme Court cases such as People v. 49, West 12 tenants Corp. and Lawrence v. Texas, which further helped the movement gain notoriety. 

Through pop culture, the LGBTQ+ movement has also taken strides forward for equality. Bell cites Ellen Degeneres as an influence when she came out in 1997. 

Not all of the attention that the movement garnered was positive. Aside from the violence LGBTQ+ faced, several government bodies have moved to ban transgenders from military enrollment. 

There have been attempts to create a statutory ban on same-sex marriage. Up until 1973, when the American Psychiatric  Association removed it, homosexuality was labeled as a mental disorder. 

Bell describes the progression of the movement as “two steps forward, one step back.” 

Both Bell and Rubio agree that the LGBTQ+ movement has come a long way since its inception, but it still has a way to go in terms of securing the same rights that heterosexuals have.

GSA meets on Tuesdays at 12:10 p.m. and ,as their motto states, is committed to hosting a safe environment with positive dialogue about prevalent LGBTQ+ issues and events.

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