The Comprehensive History of the LGBTQIA2+ Movement

Most historians agree that there is evidence of homosexual activity and same-sex love, whether those relationships have been accepted or persecuted, in all documented cultures. From the letter of desire for people of the same sex written by Sappho in the 7th century BC to young people raised as the opposite sex in cultures ranging from Albania to Afghanistan, alternatives to the Western male-female and heterosexual binaries have been present throughout history and across cultures. These realities were gradually made known in the West through travelers' diaries, the ecclesiastical records of missionaries, the diaries of diplomats, and the reports of medical anthropologists. The peaceful flourishing of early trans or bisexual acceptance in different indigenous civilizations was met with opposition from European and Christian colonizers. During the last decade of the 20th century, millions of Americans watched actress Ellen DeGeneres come out on national television in April 1997, heralding a new era of gay celebrity, power and visibility in the media, although not without risks.

Celebrity artists, both gay and straight, continued to be among the most energetic activists calling for tolerance and equal rights. With greater media attention to gay and lesbian civil rights in the 1990s, trans and intersex voices began to gain space with works such as Gender Outlaw (199) by Kate Boernstein and My Gender Workbook (199), Myths of Gender (199), by Ann Fausto-Sterling, and Transgender Warriors (199), by Leslie Feinberg, which improved changes in studies on women and gender to include more transgender and non-binary identities. As a result of the hard work of countless organizations and individuals, with the help of the Internet and direct mail campaign networks, the 21st century announced new legal developments for gay and lesbian couples. Same-sex civil unions were recognized under Vermont law in 2000 and Massachusetts became the first state to celebrate same-sex marriages in 2004; with the end of state laws on sodomy (Lawrence v. Texas, 200, gay and lesbian Americans were finally freed from criminal classification. Gay marriage was first legalized in the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain and Canada; but the recognition of gay marriage by the church and state continued to divide opinion around the world. Following impressive gains in LGBT rights in post-apartheid South Africa, conservative evangelicals in the United States began to provide support and funding for homophobic campaigns abroad.

The dramatic death penalty imposed in Uganda on gays and lesbians in Uganda was perhaps the most severe in Africa. Other symbols used by LGBTQIA2-S groups are green carnations, purple handprints, the lambda symbol in the Greek symbol, blue feathers and cards with aces. The LGBTQIA2+ community, also known as the Rainbow community, are people who are allied with the LGBTQIA2+ movement or who identify as lesbians, gays, transgenders, etc. The main reason why the LGBTQIA2+ community and pronouns are important is because they create a positive impact on the mental health, emotional well-being and quality of life of those who are part of the group or are allied with it. Using a person's correct gender pronouns is one of the most basic ways to show your respect for their identity and show your support for the LGBTQIA2+ community. Even so, the rainbow striped flag has historically been the most used and recognized symbol that represents pride for the LGBTQIA2-S community in general. Like BIPOC and transgender communities, intersex people have been largely underrepresented — or simply ignored — within the broader LGBTQIA2-S movements.

People in the LGBTQIA2+ community come from all walks of life and include people of all races and ethnicities, all ages, all socioeconomic levels, and from all parts of the country. Social workers have a responsibility to promote policies, laws, and programs that affirm, support and value LGBTQIA2S+ individuals, families and communities. What was once simply LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, bisexual, transgender) has become LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning) or, in its most expansive form, LGBTQIA2 (lesbian, gay , bisexual , transgender , queer , questioning , intersex , asexual , Two Spirits).