Ah, the LGBT movement!
A Quick Jaunt Down History Lane
The LGBT rights movement are deep, nuanced, and globally scattered, but for the sake of brevity (and to avoid going on a century-long detour), let’s focus on the hotspots.
Before Stonewall: The Invisible Years
The Mattachine Society – Founded in the 1950s, this was one of the first gay rights organizations in the U.S. They believed in assimilation and peaceful protest. Picture lots of suits, ties, and sensible shoes. Not exactly the Pride Parade attire we’re used to, but hey, baby steps!
Daughters of Bilitis – Around the same time, this lesbian advocacy group sprung up, focusing on providing support to lesbians who felt alone. It was like a secret club with monthly meetings, potlucks, and no men allowed. Talk about exclusive!
The Swinging ’60s and the Rise of Activism
This era wasn’t just about flower power and love. The gay community was done with playing nice. In cities like San Francisco, New York, and Los Angeles, there was a rise in outspoken, non-conformist LGBT activism. Think less “please accept us” and more “we’re here, we’re queer, get used to it!”
Compton’s Cafeteria Riot (1966) – Before Stonewall, trans folks and drag queens in San Francisco had had enough of police harassment. They rebelled one night by, wait for it, throwing coffee at offending officers! It might not sound epic, but it was a revolutionary step for the trans community.
The Stonewall Riots: The Spark
On June 28, 1969, a police raid at the Stonewall Inn in New York’s Greenwich Village sparked multiple nights of rioting. This wasn’t the community’s first display of resistance, but it was undoubtedly the most iconic. A diverse group, from drag queens to lesbians, clashed with the police, using everything from coins to bricks as weapons. Among the standout figures was Marsha P. Johnson, a Black trans woman, who allegedly threw the first shot glass, heralding the start of the riots. This pivotal moment galvanized the LGBT community, turning once isolated protests into a coordinated movement for rights and recognition.
The Aftermath: Pride Takes Center Stage
A year after Stonewall, the first official Gay Pride marches took place in various cities. The aim? To commemorate the riots and promote unity. It was a parade, a protest, and a party rolled into one.
Throughout the ’70s and ’80s, the movement faced both progress and setbacks. The AIDS crisis brought urgency and tragedy, while increased visibility and activism led to growing acceptance in certain circles.
The Fluctuating Flag
Now let’s dish about the iconic Rainbow flag. It started as a symbol of peace. Then, in 1978, our hero, Gilbert Baker, thought, “Why not make it about Pride?” Originally, the flag had eight colors. But due to fabric dye issues and probably some diva-like behavior from some of the colors (looking at you, hot pink!), it was reduced to six. Over the years, the flag has evolved to include black and brown stripes, representing people of color, and the colors of the trans flag, showing the inclusivity of the community.
LGBT Fashion Through the Years
a. The ’70s: It was all about liberation, baby! Bell bottoms, glitter, and mustaches. If Freddie Mercury and Elton John had a love child, it would be the ’70s LGBT fashion scene.
b. The ’80s: Enter the age of leather, lace, and androgyny. With icons like Boy George and Grace Jones, gender norms were thrown out the window faster than last season’s flannel.
c. The ’90s: LGBT fashion became political. Remember those “Silence = Death” shirts? Also, enter the age of the crop top (and honey, it was not just for the ladies).
d. 2000s-Today: Queer fashion today is as diverse as our community. From gender-fluid outfits worn by celebs like Billy Porter and Janelle Monáe to RuPaul’s legendary drag ensembles, we’re showing the world that gender norms are so last century. Plus the rainbow clothing and fashion it’s a new market for stylist and fashionistas.
4. Gay Fashion Staples: A Rundown
– Flannel shirts: It’s not a lesbian’s closet without a flannel, right?
– Harnesses: Once a symbol of the leather community, body harness, lingerie, leg, arms, etc, now seen on celebs at Met Galas.
– Rainbow…Anything: Because how else would you subtly (or not so subtly) show off your pride outfit?
5. The Runways Get Queer
Let’s not forget the impact of the LGBT community on mainstream fashion. Designers like Marc Jacobs, Alexander McQueen, and Donatella Versace have been pushing boundaries and gender norms on global stages for years.
From riots to runways, the LGBT movement has influenced and been influenced by the world in numerous ways. Our flag, though ever-changing, stands firm in its representation of love, acceptance, and fabulousness. The only thing consistent about LGBT fashion? It’s always in vogue.
Remember, darling, history isn’t just about the past; it’s about the fabulous outfits we wore while making it!