How good are you with LGBT+ history? What if a drag queen offers you $50 if you can name 5 important historical LGBT+ figures, but you can only think of RuPaul and Elton John?
Don’t stress, we got you, with some help from Twitter user @selfishfeminist.
Pride in the US is a little different to Mardi Gras in Australia, but both have their roots in the Stonewall riots of 1969. The riots were a response to a police raid of the Stonewall Inn in New York, and activists like Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera and Stormé DeLarverie became iconic figures in the LGBT rights movement as a result of their involvement in the events at Stonewall.
While the 78ers can be credited with establishing Mardi Gras in Australia, Brenda Howard was one of the organisers of the first Pride in New York, the Christopher Street Liberation Day March, which commemorated the first anniversary of Stonewall.
South Australia was the first Australian state to decriminalise male homosexuality in 1975, and Tasmania was the last to do so, holding out until 1997.
Gilbert Baker created the first rainbow flag in 1978, and it was first debuted at the San Francisco Gay and Lesbian Freedom Day Parade.
Denmark became the first country to legally recognise relationships between gay couples in 1989, and in 2001, the Netherlands became the first country to legalise same-sex marriage. Australia, as pretty much everyone knows, didn’t do so until after a non-binding plebiscite was held in 2017. Twenty-six countries around the world have now legalised same-sex marriage.
In October 1973, the Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatry Federal Council became the first body in the world to declare that homosexuality was not an illness, and in December of that year, the American Psychiatric Association removed it from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
The first gay political group in Australia was the Australian offshoot of the US-based Daughters of Bilitis, which eventually became known as the Australasian Lesbian Movement.
Lilli Elbe is known as the first woman to undergo gender confirmation surgery in 1930 in Germany (Germany, particularly Berlin, before the Nazis rose to power was pretty progressive when it came to LGBT+ people). The movie The Danish Girl was made about her life, but many trans people had concerns with the film’s portrayal.
While @selfishfeminist suggests that drag is an acronym, standing for ‘Dressed Like A Girl’, there’s no legitimate source for this claim. Drag dates back centuries, so it’s likely we’ll never know the origins of the word. Some have suggested that it comes from theatre slang for long skirts dragging on the floor.
For more LGBT+ history, check out the Australian Lesbian and Gay Archives. You can also listen to the podcast Making Gay History for interviews with important LGBT+ figures about the historical events they lived through and contributed to.