The confrontations between police and demonstrators at the Stonewall Inn in New York City the weekend of June 27-29, 1969 mark the beginning of the modern glbtq movement for equal rights.
Formed soon after the Stonewall Riots of 1969, the short-lived but influential Gay Liberation Front brought a new militancy to the movement that became known as gay liberation.
The sexual revolution of post-World War II America changed sexual and gender roles profoundly.
"Leather" is a blanket term for a large array of sexual preferences, identities, relationship structures, and social organizations loosely tied together by the thread of what is conventionally understood as sadomasochistic sex.
Although best known for her crusade for women's suffrage, Susan B. Anthony spoke out on a range of feminist issues.
With reports from hundreds of sub-Saharan African locales of male-male sexual relations and from about fifty of female-female sexual relations, it is clear that same-sex sexual relations existed in traditional African societies, though varying in forms and in the degree of public acceptance
Androgyny, a psychological blending of gender traits, has long been embraced by strong women, soft men, members of queer communities, and others who do not easily fit into traditionally defined gender categories.
A cultural crossroads between Asia and Europe, Russia has a long, rich, and often violent heritage of varied influences and stark confrontations in regard to its patterns of same-sex love.
In his remarkable Newsweek article on President Obama's historic statement in favor of marriage equality, Andrew Sullivan traces Obama's evolution from supporter of civil unions to endorser of full-fledged equality. Echoing Toni Morrison's famous description of President Clinton as America's first Black President, Sullivan describes Obama as "America's First Gay President."
Sullivan's essay is an important analysis that deserves very wide reading. Although one might question particular assertions and even its principal thesis, Sullivan's essay is a fascinating work that combines personal revelation, sharp political acumen, and a provocative conclusion.
Sullivan describes his own personal reaction to the President's announcement that he now supports marriage equality. He begins this section by reminding us that "The interview, by coincidence, came the day after North Carolina voted emphatically to ban all rights for gay couples in the state constitution. For gay Americans and their families, the emotional darkness of Tuesday night became a canvas on which Obama could paint a widening dawn."
"But I didn't expect it," Sullivan continues. "Like many others, I braced myself for disappointment. And yet when I watched the interview, the tears came flooding down. The moment reminded me of my own wedding day. I had figured it out in my head, but not my heart. And I was utterly unprepared for how psychologically transformative the moment would be. To have the president of the United States affirm my humanity--and the humanity of all gay Americans--was, unexpectedly, a watershed."
Sullivan here captures the complexity of the gay community's relationship with the President, a man many of us supported with great passion and hope, but who has alternately disappointed and delighted us, to the point, indeed, of making us wary of expecting too much. Many of us were as moved as Sullivan by the President's affirmation of our humanity in what we immediately recognized as a historic moment.
He continues by rehearsing how the President finally became our fierce advocate in the second half of his term and speculating on the political calculations and consequences of the decision to endorse marriage equality.
But most compellingly, Sullivan makes a case for the similarity between Obama's personal history and the gay and lesbian experience.
He points out that "The core gay experience throughout history has been displacement, a sense of belonging and yet not belonging. Gays are born mostly into heterosexual families and discover as they grow up that, for some reason, they will never be able to have a marriage like their parents' or their siblings'. They know this before they can tell anyone else, even their parents. This sense of subtle alienation--of loving your own family while feeling excluded from it--is something all gay children learn."
He argues that Obama's own experience is similar to the "insider outsider" experience that most glbtq people live. "He was a black kid brought up by white grandparents and a white single mother in Hawaii and Indonesia, where his color really made no difference. He discovered his otherness when reading an old issue of Life magazine, which had a feature on African-Americans who had undergone an irreversible bleaching treatment to make them look white--because they believed being white was the only way to be happy."
"This is the gay experience," Sullivan writes: "the discovery in adulthood of a community not like your own home and the struggle to belong in both places, without displacement, without alienation. It is easier today than ever. But it is never truly without emotional scar tissue. Obama learned to be black the way gays learn to be gay."
"I have always sensed that [Obama] intuitively understands gays and our predicament--because it so mirrors his own. And he knows how the love and sacrifice of marriage can heal, integrate, and rebuild a soul. The point of the gay-rights movement, after all, is not about helping people be gay. It is about creating the space for people to be themselves. This has been Obama's life's work. And he just enlarged the space in this world for so many others, trapped in different cages of identity, yearning to be released and returned to the families they love and the dignity they deserve."
In the video below, Sullivan explains to Chris Matthews the complex emotions he felt in hearing Obama's endorsement of marriage equality.