Gay Liberation Movement

Updated: MARCH 18, 2019

The Gay Liberation Movement was the wave of activism which helped the homosexual community begin to rise above oppression. The Gay Liberation Movement had a positive impact on the financial, emotional, and social wellbeing of homosexual people. The Gay Liberation Movement is typically traced back to the raid on New York City’s Stonewall Inn in 1969.

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The raid on Stonewall Inn was not the first raid on an establishment frequented by homosexual individuals, or the last, but it was a pivotal one for the course of gay history. For the first time, the inn’s patrons fought back against the police. Their anger triggered riots and protests which raged across New York City. It also saw the formation of key activist groups including the Gay Liberation Front and the Gay Activist Alliance. Like the members of the homophile movement that came before them, the members of these Gay Liberation Movement groups sought to end the oppression and persecution of gay and lesbian individuals. However, their tactics were more militant and aggressive than their predecessors. They modeled themselves on other modern activist groups including the Black Power Movement, student protestors, and women’s rights activists.

The influence the homophile movement had on the Gay Liberation Movement shouldn’t be underestimated, though. The homophile movement helped unify the gay and lesbian community, and this unity was essential to the Gay Liberation Movement’s uprising. Many homophile activists also went on to become part of the Gay Liberation Movement.

The Gay Liberation Movement continued throughout the 1970s and 1980s. They inspired state leaders to decriminalize homosexual behavior and reduced police harassment. Large cities began acknowledging the civil rights of gay and lesbian individuals. Discrimination on the basis of sexuality became illegal in workplaces. Gay and lesbian people became more welcome in churches and political parties. In some cases, they even attained high-ranking positions. When the AIDS epidemic hit, they helped secure funding for research and treatment facilities. Thanks to the Gay Liberation Movement, the homosexual community transitioned from a subculture to an integral part of society.


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