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.
Lt. Colonel Victor Fehrenbach in an MSNBC interview.
On September 20, 2011, the U.S. military policy that prohibited the service of openly gay men and women officially ended. In effect since 1993, Don't Ask, Don't Tell was responsible for curtailing the military careers of more than 14,000 American servicemembers and causing psychological damage to many more. The policy forced gay men and lesbians in the military to live in constant fear of exposure as they served under the threat of losing their jobs should their sexual orientation become known.
The cost to American taxpayers of discharging openly gay servicemembers under DADT is estimated at some half a billion dollars. But the cost to military effectiveness and governmental integrity was probably even more staggering.
As proponents of ending DADT pointed out, the ban promoted a hostile working environment, wasted crucial resources on unnecessary investigations, and forced many qualified service members to leave the military, depriving the military of many needed talents.
Moreover, by officially enforcing discrimination, the policy contradicted the democratic values the military is supposed to protect.
In addition, as Admiral Michael Mullen, former Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, observed, the policy forced members of the military to violate the honor code by lying: "I cannot escape being troubled by the fact that we have in place a policy which forces young men and women to lie about who they are in order to defend their fellow citizens," he said in 2010, adding, "For me, personally, it comes down to integrity--theirs as individuals, ours as an institution."
The struggle to end the odious policy has been a long one. Crucial to its success have been organizations such as the Palm Center and Servicemembers Legal Defense Fund; military activists such as Colonel Margarethe Cammermeyer, Lieutenant Dan Choi, Captain Jim Pietrangelo, Captain Tanya Domi, Captain Mike Almy, Sergeant Justin Elzie, Major Margaret Witt, Lt. Colonel Victor Fehrenbach, and Servicemembers United Executive Director Alexander Nicholson, among many others; as well as such politicians as Representative Patrick Murphy and Senators Joseph Lieberman and Carl Levin.
Log Cabin Republicans deserves special credit for pressing on with its lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the policy. The ruling by Judge Virginia Phillips in Log Cabin Republicans v. U.S.A. placed significant pressure on the military to end the policy at a pivotal moment.
The strange history of Don't Ask, Don't Tell is told in a documentary by veteran filmmakers Fenton Bailey and Rocky Barbato, which debuts on HBO on Tuesday.
In the clip below, MSNBC anchor Thomas Roberts interviews Lt. Colonel Fehrenbach and Fenton Bailey about the documentary and the end of DADT: