Emerging from the discovery period of the 1960s and 1970s, the LGBTQ+ community found itself confronted by a series of social and political hurdles.

The devastation of the newly emerging HIV/AIDS epidemic quickly took the lives of countless LGBTQ+ individuals, and the inaction and apathy of the mainstream medical and political institutions lead to the creation of many community-based service organizations and the birth of the radical actions of ACT UP (the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power).  The schism that had long existed between gay men and women was closed as the community banded together to take care of its own. In this new movement, the community adopted the pink triangle, a symbol of oppression in Nazi Germany, and turned it into a symbol for radical empowerment.

During the 1980s and 1990s, the LGBTQ+ community, initially referred to as the “GLB” community, realized that the only way to have a meaningful presence in society, a full seat at the table, was to demand and work towards total acceptance of our families and our rights as citizens of the United States. The fight for complete and total legal recognition of our partners, the right to serve openly in the armed forces, the right to marry, and the right to honest expression of gender identity all came to a head in the 1990s and set the stage for the changes that happened in the 21st century. From pink triangles to Freedom Rings; from KD Lang to RuPaul; from “Real World” and “In the House” to “Fame” and “Paris Is Burning”; and from “Ellen” to “Will & Grace,” we shaped the current LGBTQ+ movement. Our community showed up, spoke up, ACTed UP and created a TOTALLY RADICAL new America.