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.
Rene Portland. Photograph by Nathan A. Smith, courtesy trainingrules.com.
Legendary Penn State football coach Joe Paterno, recently fired for his role in covering up child-abuse by former Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky, is also implicated in the scandal caused by former women's basketball coach Rene Portland's discrimination against lesbians.
According to Fawn Yacker, co-director with Dee Mosbacher of the award-winning documentary Training Rules (2009) about homophobia in Penn State's women's basketball program, Joe Paterno supported homophobic coach Rene Portland, whom he hired in the 1980s when he was the university's athletic director.
In a post at Outsports, Yacker states that Paterno "supported her even though she was open about her training rules--No drinking, No drugs, No lesbians. He supported her during student protests that were in response to the statements she made to the press in 1986 and 1991 stating her policies." He even referred to her as his "best hire."
Portland's homophobia was so notorious at Penn State that it finally became the center of a student-led campaign to force the university to adopt a non-discrimination policy, one that Paterno and then-President Joab Thomas opposed.
After several demonstrations against Portland and in favor of a non-discrimination policy, the faculty Senate finally acted and in effect forced a policy on the university in 1991.
At the time, Portland told an interviewer that she would reluctantly respect the new policy: "That is a policy I have to work under as an employee of the university. That's all I'll say about it."
However, as Training Rules documents, it is clear that Portland did not end her practice of discriminating against lesbians or those she perceived to be lesbian.
Training Rules tells the story of Jennifer Harris, whose suit against Penn State ultimately led to the resignation of Portland, an acclaimed and highly successful coach who made no secret of her homophobia.
In 2005, Harris, a premed sophomore, who had been one of the leading scorers on her team, was abruptly kicked off the squad by Portland. Harris suffered so many indignities as a result of this dismissal that she contemplated suicide.
But with the help of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, Harris decided to fight back in order to prevent other student athletes from suffering similar indignities. In 2006, she launched a lawsuit against Portland, athletic director Tim Curley, and Penn State, alleging discrimination on the basis of perceived sexual orientation, racism, and gender stereotyping.
With the announcement of the suit, other women athletes came forward to tell their stories of having been victimized through the years by Portland and the athletic programs at Penn State.
An internal university review of Harris's complaint found that Portland created a "hostile, intimidating, and offensive environment." Portland was fined $10,000, required to attend diversity training sessions, and placed on "zero tolerance" for future violations of Penn State's non-discrimination policy.
Penn State settled the suit under confidential terms and Portland subsequently resigned. Upon her resignation, Paterno said, "I think she's done a great job."
As Mosbacher has written, "Training Rules is a painful reminder that homophobia still exists in women's sports. The Penn State players featured in the film represent many others throughout the world of college athletics whose careers have been terminated because of homophobia."