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San Francisco: A Brief Gay History

This is a story we’ll all tell 50 years from now: “When I was your age, an iPhone cost $200. And gay people couldn’t get married. Can you imagine?”

Love won. On June 26, 2015 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that marriage equality is a right guaranteed by the 14th Amendment of the Constitution. The decision has been eagerly awaited by the community and city of San Francisco, and the announcement comes on the eve of the 45th Pride celebration and parade unfolding in San Francisco this weekend.

As the symbolic heart of gay rights progress for decades, San Francisco has so many reasons to be proud of this moment. The first gay bar. The first gay Pride parade. The first same sex issued marriage license. So many “firsts” in this civil rights struggle have taken place right here.

We’ve created a little timeline to commemorate some of these milestones. We’ve come a long way and we can’t wait to see what comes next.

1955: First U.S. Lesbian Organization

San Francisco A Brief Gay History1

San Francisco is the home of the first lesbian organization in the U.S., The Daughters of Bilitis.


1964: Gay Captial of America

San Francisco A Brief Gay History2

Life Magazine links San Francisco as the “Gay Capital of America” in an article “Gay San Francisco”

1966: First U.S. Gay Community Center & More

The Society for Individual Rights opens the first gay community center in the U.S.

1970: First Gay Pride Parade

San Francisco A Brief Gay History5

On June 27, 20 to 30 people march down Polk Street from Aquatic Park to City Hall in San Francisco’s first gay rights march. A “gay-in” the next day in Golden Gate Park draws many more people. This is the start of the Gay Freedom Day Parade, also known as Pride.

1972: First Openly Gay Bar in SF

San Francisco A Brief Gay History4

With open windows, Twin Peaks tavern opens as the first openly gay bar in San Francisco. Before, gay bars were required to install blackened windows or no windows at all.

1977: Milk

Harvey Milk is elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. Milk is the first openly gay elected official in California history.

1978: Rainbow Flag Designed In SF

The first rainbow flag was designed by Gilbert Baker, a San Francisco artist, in response to calls by activists for a symbol for the community.

1982: First Gay Games

First Gay Games draws more than 1,350 athletes from 10 countries to compete in 17 sports at Kezar Stadium.

2004: First Same-Sex Marriage Licenses Issued

San Francisco A Brief Gay History7

First same-sex marriage licenses issued. Long-time San Franciscans Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon (co-founders of the Daughters of Bilitis) became the first same-sex couple to be legally married in the U.S.

2015: U.S. Supreme Court Legalizes Marriage Equality

San Francisco A Brief Gay History6

The 45th annual Pride parade takes place following a historical 5-4 Supreme Court vote to legalize same-sex marriage across the U.S.

Source: sanfrancisco.travel

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