Sigmund Freud, a German scientist, was one of the first to formally study homosexuality. The American Psychological Association suggests that his writings were sympathetic to the concept of homosexual and bisexual orientation. He did not see it as an illness or a crime, and later founded the Institute for Sexual Science in Berlin, which held a huge library archive of materials on gay culture history.

Unfortunately, the great library was burnt to the ground during Nazi Regime. Apparently, the Nazi’s had a lack of tolerance for homosexuality and persecuted hundreds of thousands of people because of their sexual orientation, not to mention their race.

Meanwhile in the US, greater awareness spiked in the ‘50’s when an investigation of homosexuals working in government positions led to the first politically based demand for fair treatment as gays and lesbians were at still risk for psychiatric lockup.

In the mid ‘60’s, the civil right movement won new legislation outlawing racial discrimination, and in ’69 came the turning point for gay liberation when patrons of the Stonewall Inn in New York fought back against ongoing police raids, and as a result Stonewall is still considered a watershed moment of gay pride and has been commemorated since with ‘pride marches” held annually.

It wasn’t until ’73 that the American Psychiatric Association removed homosexuality as an “illness” in classification with diagnostic manuals. Evidently, one generation (44 years since) is not enough to wash away condescending salaciousness.

Shortly thereafter Gilbert Baker was asked to design a united pride flag. His original design incorporated 8 colours to represent sex, life, healing, sunlight, nature, art, harmony, and spirit. But, simply to save money, as printing was quite expensive in the ’80’s, 8 were reduced to 6. Although many variations have sprung up since, this one has held up against the test of time.

Here into the 20th century, millions of people were watching actress Ellen DeGeneres come out on national television, introducing a new era of gay celebrity power with media visibility calling for tolerance and equal rights, but it wasn’t until 2003 when Massachusetts became the first state to allow gay marriage, and is now legal in a few states, Canada, Netherlands, Belgium, Spain and 17 other countries. then there’s Tyler Oakley, a self-made mainstream celebrity and multi-million dollar promoter for The Trevor Project – an organization focused on suicide prevention for LGBTQ youth.

Today, Machlemore and Ryan Lewis’s song Same Love has become an unofficial anthem for pro-gay marriage – “a certificate on paper isn’t going to solve it all, but is a damn good place to start.” It mocks those who “think it’s a choice, and you can be cured with some treatment and religion – man-made rewiring of a predisposition”. Paul Vasey from Canada’s University of Lethbridge asks: “How can a trait like male homosexuality, which has a genetic component, persist over evolutionary time if the individuals that carry the genes associated with that trait are not reproducing?” Scientist cannot explain this, but there are of course several theories, and interestingly enough, most studies conducted are related to homosexuality and not lesbianism or any over label in the LGBTQ community. I suppose this falls back on that fact that this is still a white man’s world?

Vancouver is home to the largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer community in Western Canada, and every year, the Mayor proclaims a week in August as Gay Pride Week as well as appoint advisory committees to consult on relevant LGBTQ issues. Other local communities in Vancouver include QMUNITY, B.C.’s queer resource center, The Gay and Lesbian Business Association of BC, Vancouver Pride, and several more, which are all located on the city’s website under community programs.

 

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