Media Release - 1 March 2023
Media Release - March 1, 2023
New Project Documents 600+ LGBT Protests from 1965 to 1973
A new study, published jointly by OutHistory and Queer Pasts on March 1, 2023, documents more than 600 LGBTQ+ direct action protests in the United States from 1965 to 1973.
“This is the first comprehensive survey of LGBTQ+ demonstrations, marches, protests, rallies, riots, and sit-ins during one of the most influential periods of LGBT activism in U.S. history,” according to Marc Stein, the study’s lead researcher. Stein is the new director of OutHistory and the coeditor of Queer Pasts.
“The project, completed with the support of student researchers at San Francisco State University, can be understood as a survey of more than 600 events that Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and his allies want to cancel, censor, and closet when we teach U.S. history.”
For the nine years studied, Stein and his research team identified 646 direct action events, averaging 72 per year. The study cites more than 1,800 media sources from the 1960s and 1970s. According to these sources, more than 200,000 people participated in these protests and nearly 200 were arrested. Protests occurred in 20 states and the District of Columbia, challenging the notion that these only occurred in New York, California, and a few other states. The frequency of protests increased significantly in April 1969, two months before the well-known Stonewall rebellion in New York City.
The report includes lists of the cities, states, and months that featured the largest number of LGBT direct action protests, along with the protests that featured the largest number of participants, the largest number of arrests, and longest sustained actions. Each of the largest twenty protests included more than 1000 participants.
The study also examines the targets of LGBT protests, demonstrating that the most common targets were businesses, government policies, and police practices. Other common targets were LGBT organizations and businesses; elected officials and political candidates; military, militarism, and war; meda, arts, and culture; educational institutions; science and medicine; prisons and jails; and religious institutions and policies.
According to Stein, historians have produced in-depth studies of fewer than fifty of these protests, returning again and again to the same ones rather than investigating others. “We need more research on LGBTQ+ protests against hostile television programs and religious institutions, more studies of queer demonstrations against racism and sexism in gay bars, more investigations of activism that targetted prisons and schools, and more examinations of marches and rallies in smaller cities and towns. The Stonewall riots were important, but so were hundreds of other protests.”
The researcher team plans to next document protests for the 1974-76 period.
OutHistory was founded in 2008 by Jonathan Ned Katz, author of the groundbreaking book Gay American History in 1976. Queer Pasts, coedited by Lisa Arellano, was founded in 2021 and is published by Alexander Street/ProQuest. Marc Stein is the Jamie and Phyllis Pasker Professor of History at San Francisco State University and the author of five books, including the 2nd edition of Rethinking the Gay and Lesbian Movement (Routledge, 2023), which discusses many of the protests included in the LGBTQ+ direct action inventory.
Contact: Marc Stein at email@example.com