Gay Politics

June 29, 1984

Report Outline
Move into Mainstream
Fighting Public Bias
Persistent Opposition
Special Focus

Move into Mainstream

Convention Rally Symbol of Changed Status

On july 15, the day before the Democratic National Convention opens in San Francisco, thousands of homosexual men and women will congregate in that city for the National March for Lesbian/Gay Rights. Ten years ago, such a march probably would have been headed by radical “gay liberationists” and written off as an act by a fringe group. But the co-chairman of this year's parade and rally, Paul Boneberg, is chairman of San Francisco's Stonewall Democratic Club. One of the scheduled speakers is Virginia Apuzzo, executive director of the National Gay Task Force (NGTF) and a member of the Democratic Platform Committee. And many of the marchers are participating in the mainstream politics of this presidential election year.

The San Francisco march follows on the heels of the 15th anniversary of what many activists call “the birth of the modern gay rights movement.” Throughout most of the nation's history, the majority of Americans viewed homosexuals as mentally diseased. Most gays hid their sexual identities to avoid discrimination in employment and housing, violent attack, arrest or commitment to mental institutions. Then, on June 27, 1969, New York City police raided the Stonewall Inn, a bar on Christopher Street in the heart of the Greenwich Village gay community. Fed up with what they regarded as harassment, the patrons of the bar battled police for several hours. The riot, combined with the social liberalism that also fueled the black civil rights and feminist movements in the 1960s and 1970s, emboldened millions of homosexuals to “come out of the closet,” express their “gay pride,” and demand an end to discrimination based on sexual “preference” or “orientation.”

Researchers have estimated the number of homosexual men and women at between 5 and 10 percent of the American population—11 million to 23 million people. As more people openly expressed their sexual identities and moved into urban gay communities, their power as a voting bloc became evident. And as office-seekers became more willing to enter into political partnership with gays, the movement grew more sophisticated; a national gay lobby and a gay political action committee have offices in Washington, D.C.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgendered Individuals
Mar. 15, 2013  Gay Marriage
Mar. 01, 2011  Gay Rights
Sep. 18, 2009  Gays in the Military Updated
Sep. 26, 2008  Gay Marriage Showdowns Updated
May 05, 2006  Transgender Issues
Oct. 01, 2004  Gays on Campus
Sep. 05, 2003  Gay Marriage
Apr. 14, 2000  Gay-Rights Update
Mar. 05, 1993  Gay Rights
Sep. 04, 1992  Domestic Partners
Jun. 29, 1984  Gay Politics
Mar. 08, 1974  Homosexual Legal Rights
Jul. 10, 1963  Homosexuality: Morals and Security
Civil Rights: Gay, Lesbian and Transgendered
Religion and Politics