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10 Iconic Images Of Love & Defiance Illustrate The Road To Equality

by jjkeyes October 01, 2016


Broadway Gay Marriage HAIR by Jeffrey James Keyes

On June 26, 2015, we celebrated and cried tears of joy as the US Supreme Court decreed the end to marriage discrimination. Then we snapped photos with our smart phones and posted them on social media, mimicking the process by which Americans got to know us and support marriage equality in the first place.

In fact, looking back through the last 50 years at the start of LGBT History Month, no one can help but reflect on the iconic images that contributed to the nation’s long march towards equality. In some ways, the march is still in it’s infancy, which much left to achieve, but this month we celebrate the victories in images…

1. Frank Kameny and the Mattachine Society of Washington

frank-kameny-c-19070Sometimes called the gay Rosa Parks, Frank Kameny was fired as a government astronomer in 1957 because of his sexual orientation. His appeal of that decision was the first national petition to a high court for a violation of human rights based on sexual orientation. Photo Credit: Kay Tobin

2. The Stonewall Riots


The Stonewall riots broke out in the early morning on June 28, 1969 at the Stonewall Inn. It is part of the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission’s Greenwich Village Historic District, a National Historic Landmark, and the first U.S. National Monument dedicated to the LGBTQ-rights movement. Photo Credit: New York Daily News

3. Gay Liberation Front


On July 4 of 1969 members of the Mattachine Society New York formed The Gay Liberation Front, working to organize a march to keep the spirt of the Stonewall rising going. The GLF worked tirelessly to demand the end of persecution against homosexuals. Photo Credit: Peter Hujar

4. Harvey Milk at the 1987 San Francisco Gay Pride March


Harvey Milk, the first openly gay man elected to public office in the United States, at the 1978 San Francisco Gay Pride march. Photo Credit: Terry Schmitt/Chronicle 1978

5. The Love of Marty Robinson and Tom Doerr


Marty Robinson and Tom Doerr made history in 1970 when they appeared on the cover of America’s first gay weekly  newspaper. Robinson was a union carpenter and Doerr a graphic novelist (who designed the Lambda symbol). At a meeting of the Village Independent Democrats Marty attacked society’s mistreatment and demanded the club help stop police harassment. This image is of Tom Doerr and Marty Robinson during a Gay Activists Alliance sit-in back in 1970. Photo Credit: Diana Davies Collection at the New York Public Library

6. The Marriage of Jack Baker and Michael McConnell


In 1971, Minneapolis couple Jack Baker and Michael McConnell beat the odds and found a way to get married, decades before everyone else. In their book The Wedding Heard ‘Round the World they share an amazing story of their campaign for marriage equality. Photo Credit: Paul R. Hagen

7. New York City’s Marriage Equality Act


On July 24, 2011 the Manhattan City Clerk’s office was buzzing at 141 Worth Street. We were there to document the first few same-sex couples getting married under the Marriage Equality Act in New York City. Christine Quinn introduced five of the first couples to crowd that cheered as each waved their certificate of marriage. Photo Credit: Jeffrey James Keyes/Queerty

8. RuPaul at 2009 Capital Pride


RuPaul fired up the crowd at the Washington, DC 2009 Capital Pride Festival, sixteen years after The 1993 March on Washington for Lesbian, Gay, and Bi Equal Rights and Liberation rally. Ru asked everybody to show “love” towards Pennsylvania Avenue. Photo Credit: Billy Khuong Photography

9. Edie Windsor Goes to Washington


Edie Windsor and Thea Spyer’s love affair lasted for forty years before they were married in 2007. Two years later when Syper passed away, Windsor was ordered to pay $363,000 in estate taxes because the federal government did not acknowledge their union. Windsor challenged the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act. Photo Credit: Kate Barrett

10. Californians React to Supreme Court Rulings on Prop 8 and DOMA


On June 26, 2013 the Supreme Court struck down a crucial part of the Defense of Marriage Act and dismissed the argument to the Proposition 8 ruling. Activists and allies took to the streets and Justin Sullivan captured this image of a same-sex marriage supporter showing her support. It’s difficult to say where we would be without the love and support from our straight allies. Photo Credit: Justin Sullivan



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