Celebrating the rich history of LGBTQ+ progress

Article Published on October 7, 2022

LGBTQ+ History Month is a month-long celebration of the history of the diverse and beautiful lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer community and the importance of civil rights movements in progressing gay rights. Our Local 1000 Purpose Statement encourages us to pursue social justice for all Californians, and we join proudly in this month-long celebration.

LGBTQ+ History Month allows the opportunity to examine the rich history of the LGBTQ+ movement and what factors and measures will be successful in building communities and providing role models who will best represent and address the issues of the LGBTQ+ community.

Here are two heroes of the movement we honor today:

Bayard Rustin

Rustin first became known for his leadership during the civil rights movement after helping to organize the first March on Washington in 1941 with A. Philip Randolph. A socialist and advocate of non-violence, Rustin became more involved with gay rights in the 1980s after he was involuntarily outed. In 1986, Rustin fought for the passage of a gay equality bill in New York City, arguing that ”Gay people are the new barometer for social change.”

Unable to marry his same-sex partner, Rustin ended up adopting him to ensure the couple had legal protection. Rustin passed away in 1987. In 2013, President Obama honored Rustin’s life by awarding him the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Barbara Gittings

Longtime LGBTQ activist Barbara Gittings agitated for gay rights as early as the late 1950s, predating the Stonewall riots by 10 years. Gittings founded the New York chapter of the Daughters of Bilitis, the nation’s first lesbian group, in 1958. And in 1965 she was outside the White House helping to lead one of the country’s first gay and lesbian rights protests.

In the 1970s, Gittings successfully lobbied the American Psychiatric Association to stop labeling homosexuality a mental disorder. Remarkably, Gittings helped introduce LGBTQ literature to libraries, and later became the head of the American Library Association’s Gay Task Force.

Local 1000’s Lavender — Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Labor — (LGBTL) Committee is responsible for reviewing policies and programs established by the state directly impacting LGBTL members of Local 1000. Read more about our Lavender Committee here.