Discover world's 1st transgender district, more LGBTQ+ stories in Our America: Pride In History II

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Monday, October 24, 2022
Our America: Pride in History II
The history of LGBTQIA+ people is hard to tell. Stigma, embarrassment and anger have resulted in many of this community's records being destroyed. This series tells the history of a community finding its heroes, history and heart. This is Our America: Pride in History II.

Understanding where we come from and where we've been is an important part of telling the human story. For LGBTQ+ people, those stories are often lost to time because of stigma, fear and shame.

Our America: Pride in History II celebrates the amazing stories of perseverance as the community rose up on a path of greater acceptance.

In this episode, meet women who lead the feminist movement and men who stood up to police when their bar was raided.

Discover the world's first transgender cultural district and see why so many people found refuge on an island off the coast of New York. Walk in the shoes of LGBTQ+ pioneers, see where they fought back and how they celebrated, educated their community and mourned the losses of the AIDS epidemic.

These lesbian pioneers paved the way for LGBTQ+ rights years before Stonewall

Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin were leaders of the Daughters of Bilitis, the first lesbian organization in the United States.
GLBT Historical Society

Fifteen years before the Stonewall Riots in New York City, a San Francisco couple was already well on their way to igniting a national conversation about lesbian and gay rights. Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin could easily be called the mothers of the lesbian rights movement. They spent most of their adult lives fighting for recognition and equality and, in 1955, formed Founding the Daughters of Bilitis, the first organization for lesbians in the United States.

How the first documented LGBTQ+ civil rights demonstration in the U.S. unfolded

In Los Angeles, the marquee of a smiling black cat blends with the bustling strip of Sunset Boulevard, but 50 years ago, the site was at the forefront of a civil rights revolution. It happened on New Year's Eve after police saw gay men kissed at the stroke of midnight to ring in 1967.

Inside the secret drag shows of Central California

In the 1960s, Fresno, California's LGBTQ+ people were looking for places to meet. Before gay bars, secret drag shows would provide locals with places to find community. This is where El Daña got her start as one of the area's first male impersonators, better known today as "drag kings." She'd lip-sync to Tom Jones, Ritchie Valens, Glen Campbell, drawing crowds from San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Check out the world's first transgender district

Transgender District flags are seen in Tenderloin of San Francisco on March 11, 2021.
Transgender District flags are seen in Tenderloin of San Francisco on March 11, 2021.

San Francisco's Tenderloin District has been a documented home for transgender residents since the 1920s. The Compton's Transgender Cultural District is the first of its kind in the world, celebrating the contribution of local transgender people. It was here that Compton's Cafeteria riot occurred in August 1966. Patrons of the all-night coffee shop fought back against police for violent and constant harassment of drag queens and trans people, particularly trans women.

This library is working to bring hidden LGBTQ+ history to life

Preserving LGBTQ+ history is challenging. Records are often destroyed to "protect" people from embarrassment when they die. Now, ONE Archives at the University of South Carolina Libraries is bringing these stories to life.

Learn about Chicago's secret society of LGBTQ+ people

Just going to a bar was once a challenge for LGBTQ+ people. In Chicago, the Mattachine Midwest newsletters were run by a secret society of gay people. They sent out urgent warnings about potential bar raids and other threats to the LGBTQ+ community. The newsletters were also in other cities nationwide.

How a lesbian couple bought a tavern in 1971 and transformed it into one of the 1st open gay bars

The Twin Peaks Tavern has been a fixture in San Francisco's Castro neighborhood for decades. Many people don't know that it was the first bar to open up to the world -- literally. While other bars were tucked away in basements or covered their windows, Twin Peaks Tavern installed huge glass windows so the patrons could be seen by anyone who walked by.

How history's preserved at the Fire Island Pines

Step off the 20-minute ferry from Sayville, Long Island, and you'll find bamboo-lined pathways welcoming you to the Fire Island Pines. It's steps away from breathtaking views of the beach and the battle for LGBTQ+ freedoms. At a time when men were not allowed to dance with other men, Fire Islands Pines provided gay men with a safe place to meet one another.

Inside the 1st LGBTQ+ moments in Houston, Texas

A 1977 march led to the rise of political power for Houston’s LGBTQ community, and the creation of services that are still around today, like the Montrose Center and Legacy Communi

Imagine Texas in the 1950s and 60s. Police raids were common at gay and lesbian bars. Gay sex was illegal, and so was cross-dressing. It was here that a courageous group of people stood up against oppression and turned hearts and minds.

The history behind the first Black gay magazine

BLK magazine was the first of its kind in 1988.

Los Angeles is home to many firsts when it comes to LBGTQ+ publications but in 1988, the nation got its first black gay magazine, BLK. It was required reading for Black gays and lesbians looking for reporting that addressed their issues and interests -- from the job hunt and the AIDS crisis to pop culture and entertainment.

The Gay Men's Chorus of San Francisco birthed a choral phenomenon

Gay Men
Gay Men's Chorus 2020 is seen in San Francisco on July 13, 2020.

During the fall of 1978, a call went out inviting men in and around the Castro to sing in a brand new chorus group. The driving force was Jon Sims, the conductor of the Freedom Band. Interest mounted, leading up to the first chorus gathering -- around 100 people showed up on the first night. The men who first gathered more than 40 years ago gave birth to an LGBTQ choral phenomenon that now boasts hundreds of choruses around the globe.

Philadelphia's LGBTQ+ history far predates Stonewall uprising

Philadelphia is often viewed as the birthplace of America, it is also where LGBTQ+ people first found community. At the John J. Wilcox Archives at the William Way Center in Center City, they are working to celebrate the stories.