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 response to the media saturation coverage of Jason Collins's coming out, and the prominence of news stories about marriage equality and other glbtq issues, a frequent complaint from heterosexuals is that we should just shut up about being gay. The theory is that if homosexuality were not so much in the news, there would be less opposition. In a powerful column in the New York Times, Frank Bruni explains why we must keep speaking out and tells us when we will be able to just shut up.
Bruni begins by observing that Collins is the "perfect" trailblazer, given his education, connections, values, and eloquence, to say nothing of the fact that "he's strapping even by the brawny standards of the National Basketball Association, and his designated role on the court, as a human roadblock against the most physically imposing opponents, is an aggressive one."
But he is most struck by the opening paragraph in Collins's Sports Illustrated coming out story, "I'm a 34-year-old N.B.A. center. I'm black. And I'm gay." As Bruni observes, Collins's homosexuality is presented simply as a detail, along with his age, profession, and race, rather than as the sum total of who he is, even as the purpose of the story is to clarify who he is.
"That's the integrated way that things should be," Bruni writes, "the unremarkable way a person's sexual orientation ought to be lived and perceived. And that's precisely what Collins and his fellow trailblazers are trying to move us toward: not a constant discussion of the rightful place and treatment of L.G.B.T. people in America, but an America in which the discussion is no longer necessary. He's letting us focus on his gayness precisely so we can focus less on others' down the road."
Bruni acknowledges that some question why so much attention is being lavished on Collins for coming out and that many believe we make too much "fuss" about being gay or lesbian. He notes that his readers routinely tell him that they would be "less bothered by homosexuals if we'd just please shut up about it."
In response, he says we'd also like to be able to shut up and that we will gladly shut up someday when . . .
"when a gay, lesbian or transgendered kid isn't at special risk of being brutalized or committing suicide. When the federal government outlaws discrimination against people based on sexual orientation . . . ."
"When immigration laws give same-sex couples the same consideration that they do heterosexual ones. When the Defense of Marriage Act crumbles and our committed relationships aren't relegated to a lesser status, a diminished dignity."
"When a Rutgers coach doesn't determine that the aptly ugly garnish for hurling basketballs at his players' heads is the slur 'faggot.' When professional football scouts don't try to ascertain that potential recruits are straight."
"When an athlete like Collins can be honest about himself without he and his co-author having to stress that he's a guy's guy, a godly man, someone who stayed mum about himself before now precisely so he wouldn't disrupt his teams or upset his teammates, someone who's inhabited locker rooms for 12 seasons already without incident."
"When a gay person's central-casting earnestness and eloquence aren't noted with excitement and relief, because his or her sexual orientation needn't be accompanied by a litany of virtues and accomplishments in order for bigotry to be toppled and a negative reaction to be overcome."
"When being gay doesn't warrant a magazine cover or a phone call from the president, any more than being 34 or being black does."
Then, maybe, then we can shut up about being gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or queer.
Jason Collins's courageous coming forward helps speed us on the way toward a time when being gay even in the National Basketball Association will be no more newsworthy than learning that a ballet dancer or a fashion designer is gay.
In the video below, Jason Collins discusses his coming out with George Stephanopoulis on Good Morning America.
In the following video, Ellen DeGeneres applauds Jason Collins and promises to "hug his knees."