A Queer History Tour of the U.S.

Aug 12, 2021

A Queer History Tour of the U.S.

Pride is more than rainbow-colored parade floats — though it’s a nice touch. This month is a time for reflection of the activism that has made gay rights what they are today.

Here are some of the most influential places in U.S. LGBTQ+ history.

Henry Gerber House

Once the home of gay rights activist Henry Gerber, this house is now a designated National Historic Landmark.

Gerber, the “Grandfather of the American Gay Movement,” lived here in 1924 while he founded the Society for Human Rights, the first gay rights organization in the U.S.

In 1925, police arrested him and raided this house. Visitors today can visit the outside of this National Historic Landmark.

Rosie the Riveter WWII Home Front National Historical Park

This National Historical Park was once a factory and shipyard during World War II.

It has been considered to be influential in the LGBTQ+ community because of the role it played in allowing workers from all over the country to meet other queer people for the first time.

The park now stands as a museum that preserves the history of not only queer people but workers who fought for women’s and labor rights.


In 1966, a police officer attempted to arrest a drag queen in Compton’s Cafeteria.

In response to the unwarranted arrest, she threw a cup of hot coffee in his face, sparking a riot that is considered the first recorded militant queer resistance to police harassment in the United States and is thought to be a turning point in the local LGBTQ+ movement.

Today, Gene Compton’s Cafeteria Riot hosts an immersive theater experience inspired by the riots.

The Stonewall Inn

In the summer of 1969, police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York City.

Riots ensued and are considered to have been the impetus for the very first Pride march on June 28, 1970, from Greenwich Village to Central Park.

Today, the Inn has undergone major renovation but still exists as a gay bar, representing the spirit of Pride that first began over 50 years ago.

Across the street from the original Inn location stands 7.7-acre Stonewall National Monument.

Friends of Harvey Milk Plaza

Sitting at the intersection of Castro and Market Streets in San Francisco, this plaza commemorates the legacy of San Francisco Board of Supervisors member and LGBTQ+ activist Harvey Milk.

Milk, affectionately known as the “Mayor of Castro Street,” advocated for marginalized individuals in the community until his assassination in 1978.

This plaza aims to provide a symbol of hope and resilience to the people who Milk dedicated his life to fighting for.

One Market Restaurant

San Francisco’s Pride parades typically take place along Market Street. During the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Parade in 1978, the gay pride flag was flown for the first time.

There are several theories as to how the flag originated, but gay activist Gilbert Baker was behind the team who first produced them.

This flag quickly replaced the previous Pink triangle as a symbol for the LGBTQ+ movement.

National Air and Space Museum

The National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights took place on October 14, 1979.

It was the first march on Washington and saw about 100,000 people show up to advocate for civil rights.

The political rally was accompanied by a list of demands for the government and featured speakers such as Audre Lorde.

120 Wall Street

Doctors Mathilde Krim and Joseph Sonnabend founded the AIDS Medical Foundation in 1983. It was the first private organization that would support research on AIDS – two years after the epidemic began.

In ‘85, it joined with the National AIDS Research Foundation to become amfAR and is still committed to research, public policy, and education work to bring an end to AIDS.

Ashland Middle School

Jamie Nabozny was a middle schooler in Ashland, Wisconsin, when he first experienced bullying due to his sexual orientation.

After seeking help from the school administration for over four years to no avail, Nabozny sued the district.

When he won in 1996, not only did the case award him almost $1 million in damages, but it set an important precedent for future cases of bullying toward LGBTQ+ students and clarify that Title IX’s protections extend to queer students.

San Francisco City Hall

In February 2004, San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom told the city to give same-sex couples marriage licenses — even though this wasn’t actually legal yet.

Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin were the first of 90 couples who got married in response to this ordinance, despite having been together for over 50 years.

Lyon and Martin had cofounded the first lesbian organization, Daughters of Bilitis in 1955, and paved the way for this eventual legalization.

Joseph P. Kinneary U.S. Courthouse

James Obergefell and John Arthur James first filed their landmark lawsuit against the state for not recognizing same-sex marriage on death certificates at this District Court in 2013.

The case went through many amendments and appeals until it finally ended up in the United States Supreme Court in 2014.

The following year, the Supreme Court ruled that all states must license same-sex marriages and recognize those performed in other states, effectively granting marriage equality in America.


Home to a tragic shooting in 2016, this gay bar has now established the onePULSE Foundation – a non-profit organization funding the commemoration of those lost and the support of community members moving forward.

onePULSE has also supported the creation of a National Pulse Memorial and Museum in Orlando.

For this year’s five-year anniversary of the shooting, the organization will hold events such as a Rainbow Run, discussions, and art exhibitions.

Forever an explorer, Komal still considers herself a California girl at heart and isn't sure she'll ever leave. She gains and loses hobbies every half-decade and has already amassed several different lives. From neuroscientist to creative consultant, she's had many titles - but the one that has stuck is Content Manager at HER. She hopes we get close to world peace and that society will continue to be a queerer, freer place. You can follow Komal on IG @callmekoms

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