In America, the year 2022 will mark the 50th anniversary of the Gay Liberation Movement—and much has changed for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people since those early days of protests and activism. In many ways, it has never been easier to be gay in America. There are more openly gay celebrities and politicians than ever before, same-sex marriage is now legal in all 50 states, and public opinion on LGBT issues has become increasingly accepting in recent years.
But despite these advances, challenges remain for the LGBT community.
Only a third of LGBT adults say they are out to everyone in their social circle. A majority of LGBT adults say that most or all of the important people in their lives know about their sexual orientation or gender identity, but a substantial minority (35%) say they have not told anyone in their life.
The group that is most likely to say they are out to everyone is bisexual men, with 44 percent saying they are out to all or most of the important people in their lives. By contrast, gay men are more likely than lesbians to say they have not told anyone in their life about their sexual orientation or gender identity (39% vs. ). Lesbian, gay and bisexual adults who are out to everyone in their lives are more likely than those who have not told anyone to say they would be very comfortable talking with their doctor about LGBT health issues ( ).
From Stonewall to Marriage Equality, the LGBTQIA+ community has made great strides in securing their rights and visibility. However, there is still much work to be done.
The Gay Liberation Movement began in response to a police raid on the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York City. The patrons of the bar fought back, sparking a riot that lasted for several days. This event is widely considered to be the beginning of the modern LGBTQIA+ rights movement. In the fifty years since then, there have been many significant changes for queer people in America.
In 1973, homosexuality was finally declassified as a mental disorder by the American Psychiatric Association. In 1975, the American Psychological Association adopted a statement affirming that homosexuality is not a mental disorder and that “homosexuality per se implies no impairment in judgment, stability, reliability or general social and vocational capabilities. In 1977, the American Academy of Pediatrics stated that homosexuality is a normal variation of human sexuality and in 1986, the National Education Association passed a resolution stating that homosexuality should be accepted as compatible with normal human sexuality. In 1993, President Clinton lifted the ban on gay and lesbian military service members.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1996 that the state of Colorado could not withhold public benefits from same-sex couples on the basis of their sexual orientation. In 1998, President Clinton issued an executive order ending discrimination based on sexual orientation in federal employment. In 2000, Vermont passed the first law requiring that civil unions be granted to same-sex couples. In 2003, Massachusetts became the first state to legalize gay marriage. In 2004, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that laws criminalizing sodomy between consenting adults were unconstitutional, and in 2005 it ruled that state bans on gay marriage were unconstitutional.
The 2006 elections brought victories for many candidates who publicly support gay rights, and in 2008, the Iowa Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling that legalized same-sex marriage. In 2010, President Obama signed into law the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. And in 2011, the New York legislature voted to legalize gay marriage. In 2013, the Supreme Court struck down DOMA and California s Prop 8 (allowing gay marriage in that state), and several other states legalized same-sex marriage. In 2015, same-sex marriage was legalized nationwide by the Supreme Court. The change in attitudes toward gay rights has been remarkable. In 1996, as noted above, 53% of Americans opposed gay marriage. In 2013, 54% of Americans supported same-sex marriage.