The sexual revolution of post-World War II America changed sexual and gender roles profoundly.
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
In British law, Section 28 of the Local Government Act, enforced from 1988 until 2003, prohibited the promotion of homosexuality and teaching the acceptability of homosexuality as a "pretended family relationship".
The Hijras--men who dress and act like women--have been a presence in India for generations, maintaining a third-gender role that has become institutionalized through tradition.
The dominant ideology among politicized lesbians during the 1970s and 1980s, Lesbian Feminism was based on the premise that lesbianism and feminism were inextricably linked.
Harvey Milk, among the first openly gay man to be elected to public office in the United States, was assassinated in San Francisco's City Hall, making him the American gay liberation movement's most visible martyr.
By the early twentieth-century, YMCAs had become popular havens for men who sought sex with other men.
Compulsory heterosexuality is the assumption that women and men are innately attracted to each other emotionally and sexually and that heterosexuality is universal, a view that leads to an institutional inequality of power that privileges heterosexual males and denigrates women, especially lesbians.
Congratulations to April Ashley, who on June 15, 2012 was named a Member of the British Empire (MBE) by Queen Elizabeth II. A former model and actress turned activist, Ashley is the first openly transgender person named in the monarch's "honor's list." She was honored for her "services to transgender equality."
The 77-year-old Ashley was born George Jamieson in Liverpool. Fleeing an unhappy childhood, in which she endured numerous beatings because of her effeminacy, she joined the Merchant Navy at the age of 14. After a suicide attempt at the age of 15, she was discharged from the Merchant Navy and subjected to electric shock treatment at a mental institution, where she was raped.
In 1950, she moved to Paris, where she began living as a woman, became a transvestite entertainer, and worked as a hostess at Le Carousel, a drag club. At the age of 25, on May 12, 1960, she underwent sex reassignment surgery in Casablanca.
Ashley then returned to England, where she became a top fashion model and appeared in small roles in films. She was "outed" in 1961, when a friend sold her story to the media.
The exposure created a scandal and made her into a "celebrity freak." It effectively ended her career.
She was rumored to have had romantic liaisons with prominent men, including actors Omar Sharif and Peter O'Toole and artists Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali.
In 1963, she married Arthur Corbett, an Eton-educated aristocrat who later became the 3rd Baron Rowallan. Although Corbett knew of her history when they married, in 1970 he sued to have the marriage annulled on the grounds that Ashley had been born male.
As Michael Seabrook and Nick McDermott report in London's Daily Mail, the divorce proceedings "became one of the most talked about events of the decade with details of the case exploding over the newspapers. The couple faced each other in the courtroom, with Corbett claiming the union should be annulled on the grounds that because Ashley had been born a man, the marriage had never been legally sound."
The court ruled in Corbett's favor, thus setting a precedent that left transsexuals in legal limbo. Not until 2004 was legislation passed that allowed transsexuals to be recognised legally as the gender of their choice, legislation that Ashley emerged in the new millennium to champion.
In 2005, after the passage of the Gender Recognition Act 2004, Ashley was finally legally recognized as a female and issued with a new birth certificate. The then Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom John Prescott, who knew Ashley from the 1950s, helped her with the procedure.
In the video below, Ashley is interviewed in 2010 in connection with an exhibit on gender at London's Wellcome Collection.