San Francisco has an important history tied to LGBTQ+ rights.
Some people refer to the city as the “gay capital of the world.” This is because of San Francisco’s ongoing fight for gay rights and its support for LGBTQ+ residents. Here are some of the biggest events that have shaped the city into what it is today.
1. San Fran’s First Big Gay Bar
In 1908, The Dash became popular as San Francisco’s first well known gay bar. The staff there would crossdress and the environment offered a space for individuals in the LGBTQ+ community. It was shut down by the police, but remains a key part to SF’s history.
2. The Black Cat
In the 1950’s, the Black Cat bar was under fire for serving LGBTQ+ customers. A notable figure involved is Jose Sarria, who performed drag there. The bar appealed the Supreme Court in California voted in favor of them, saying that the evidence of gay clientele is not a reason to shut the bar down.
3. Daughters of Bilitis
The first lesbian rights organization began in 1955. It’s followed by others like the Mattachine Society, who fought for gay liberation.
4. The Castro District
By the end of WWII, many gay soldiers were dropped off into San Francisco, and the LGBTQ+ population there only grew. More and more LGBTQ+ people moved to the Castro District which became known as a huge gay-friendly neighborhood.
5. First LGBTQ+ Community Center
In 1966, the Society for Individual Rights opened the first gay community center in the country. This center grew larger and larger and formed a sense of community for LGBTQ+ people in the nation.
6. The First Pride Parade
San Fran birthed the first gay pride parade in late June, 1970. Many people marched in support of gay rights, which began “Pride” for years to come.
7. Harvey Milk
Harvey Milk was the first openly gay politician elected in San Francisco. He was on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and fought to end discrimination based on sexual orientation. He remains a prominent figure in the history of SF’s fight for gay rights.
8. World AIDS Day
The first World AIDS Day was commemorated in San Francisco at the AIDS Memorial Grove. It’s located in Golden Gate Park and open today in remembrance.
9. Same-Sex Marriage Licenses
Mayor Gavin Newsom issued same-sex marriage licenses to LGBTQ+ couples and the first same-sex marriage took place between Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon. The California Supreme Court eventually voided these marriages, but in 2008 same-sex marriage was permitted in the state again.