This Is How We Fought For Gay Rights During The ’80s And ’90s

Pride Month is well underway, which means gay men across the country have been peeling off their shirts and pounding back shots while blasting Cher’s latest album. But in addition to the parties and parades, Pride is also a time to remember how far we’ve come in our fight for equality, as well as how far we have left to go.

Last week, we shared this amazing compilation of vintage news clips from the 1970s that showed the faces of the men and women behind the early gay rights struggle. Now, we’ve found more clips to show you, these ones documenting the issues that faced the LGBT community in the 1980s and 1990s, including the AIDS crises, immigration issues for gay people, hate crimes laws, the implementations of DOMA and Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, and more.

Check out this collection of news clips about the gay rights movement from the 1980s.

And here are more clips from the 1990s.

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  • Teeth

    And now we play word police. And now we shame gay men who take PreP, which was our dream to have in the 80’s.

  • vive

    Cher has a new album? Or are we having a 90s flashback?

    I for one am pretty happy about PrEP, by the way.

  • tdx3fan

    I would argue that the visibility marches we had were more a detriment to the community progress than a help.

    It wasn’t until we basically got out of the streets that we started to see real gains in rights. It was by coming out and being ourselves to people that had actual influence that we started to see our rights expand. It was about forming alliances and getting into politics.

    The marches had very little to do with any of that, and in most cases just gave the people we were trying to ally with a reason not to ally with us.

  • Polaro

    Progress is almost always never in a direct line. We are in a better place, but we are clearly still have a long way to go. The young are always clueless. The nice part is they will be old one day too…if we don’t snuff their perky little asses out for being rude.

  • Mezaien

    Is the USA out of the dark ages yet?.

  • DarkZephyr

    @Mezaien: Where do you live?

  • vive

    @tdx3fan, I think you completely misunderstand the purpose and the effect of the marches, not to mention the not so hidden homophobia in your comment. Are you one of those who are ashamed of the in your face gays of the Pride marches too?

    Having to hide our true fabulous selves is not gay liberation, darling.

  • jar

    @tdx3fan: You certainly may argue that, but it would be a fool’s argument. Let’s look at the record. First 70 years of the 20th century, very few marches (and those were poorly attended) and homosexuality was illegal in most states, laws prohibited men dancing with each other or wearing non-gender conforming clothes, homosexuality was a mental disorder under the DSM, law enforcement harassed and abused G&L folks instead of protecting them, and gays and lesbians had no legal recourse under the law.

    The last 50 years: Stonewall, the rise of gay activism, pride marches, people coming out of the closet, Act Up, Queer Nation, gay publications, gay rights orgs- and states and most cities have anti-discrimination laws, homosexuality is no longer illegal or a mental disorder (“reparative” counseling is rejected by the APA and illegal in some states), we can marry in most of the densely populated states, etc. It is these acts that have made it safe for those unwilling to take political risk to live open lives. Sorry, bud, but none of this would have been achieved without the activism that causes you to rend your garments in despair.

  • stranded

    @tdx3fan: I agree, but in order for gay men and women to come out and be themselves, they needed to realize they weren’t alone or weren’t confined to one city block. Demonstrations showed their pride, and diversity, which then allowed others to be brave in their everyday life that led to the changes you talked about.

  • fagburn

    ‘Now, we’ve found more clips to show you…’


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