A rundown of some of the biggest moves in the history of the LGBT+ Community

Stu Fenton is Programme Director at R12, a LGBT+ dedicated destination rehab facility, part of The Cabin Addiction Services Group located in Chiang Mai Northern Thailand.

R12 is the first LGBTQ+ rehab facility outside of America addressing the specific needs of addicts in the community globally.

Casey Lucarelli works alongside Stu as a Primary Therapist for the programme.

Stu and Casey have ventured into the depths of LGBT+ history to give us a rundown of some of the key achievements the community has made, alongside some of the pioneers.

Stu comments: “Over the last 100 years the LGBT+ community has experienced repression, negativity, marginalization and cruelty in many forms and while we have achieved much with marriage equality and gay rights there is still a very long way to go in most countries.

Despite the adversity that we have encountered, some believe that it is because of this that many members of the community have become stronger, more aware, empathic and empowered than our predecessors”.

The 'Sea to Sea Rainbow. (Photo credit: Andy Newman/Florida Keys News Bureau/H0)
The ‘Sea to Sea Rainbow. (Photo credit: Andy Newman/Florida Keys News Bureau/H0)

The First World War

During the First World War, LGBT people in concentration camps suffered unusually cruel treatment, they faced persecution from German soldiers and other prisoners as well, many were beaten to death.

They were forced to engage in heterosexual sex acts as a form of conversion therapy and kept isolated so as not to spread homosexuality. When the war ended LGBT+ people were once again incarcerated.

Fortunately, things did improve after this but very slowly. Despite Alan Turing being one of the important factors that brought about Hitler’s demise, he committed suicide in 1952 because homosexuality was a crime and he was prosecuted for gross indecency.

The 1950s-70s

In April 1952, the American Psychiatric Association’s diagnostic manual still listed homosexuality as a ‘sociopathic personality disturbance.’ Then in 1961 Illinois became the first state to decriminalize homosexuality by repealing sodomy laws.

The Stonewall Riots in 1969 started the protests that led to the gay civil rights movement. After the riots the Pride March Phenomena began with New York City and the Christopher Street Liberation Day on June 28, 1970. This event marked the first LGBT Pride march in US history, covering the 51 blocks to Central Park.

In 1978 Harvey Milk was inaugurated as a San Francisco city supervisor, he was the first openly gay man to be elected into political office in California.

That year Harvey Milk was murdered and became a symbol of pride and hope for the LGBT community and the first rainbow flag was stitched together.

The 80s

The Federation of Gay Games began in 1982, they were created to foster and augment the self-respect of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and all sexually-fluid or gender-variant individuals (LGBT+) throughout the world. The goals were to promote the spirit of inclusion and participation.

Hundreds of thousands of people come to Trafalgar Square and Soho for the annual London LGBT Pride ©2017 Westminster, London, Great Britain. Photo: Dave Nash

The 90s: From Ellenvision to Eurovision

In 1997, Ellen DeGeneres came out on TV and appeared on the cover of Time magazine. She was supported by the nation and she still presents her very successful TV show.

In 1998 Dana International, a transgender performer won the Eurovision song Contest and later Conchita Wurst, a gay drag performer won the Eurovision Song Contest 2014 proclaiming “We are unstoppable!”

The 00s

Since 2009 Iceland and Belgium have had LGBT+ Prime Ministers and currently there are three world leaders leading their governments: Luxembourg Prime minister Xavier Bettel, Ireland’s Taoseach is Leo Varadkar, Serbia’s Prime Minister is Anna Brnabic.

Currently Pete Buttergeig in the USA is campaigning for the title of President of the United States.

Gay rugby union player Mark Bingham died in the September 11 attacks, The Bingham Cup was set up in his memory and now more than 30 teams compete in this event bringing LGBT+ people together in healthy environments for sporting competition.

Here and now

Despite the progress all over the world we still have setbacks. Recently in Brunei, the Sultan demanded stoning of anyone found to be engaging in sodomy or adultery (Syariah Penal Code Order).

All over the internet images were broadcast of how this penalty would be carried out; the protests and condemnation from the rest of the world and the boycotting of the Sultan’s luxury hotels made him reconsider this action and put a moratorium on the death penalty.

The journey to 2019 for the LGBT+ community has been a long, exhausting and painful one for millions.

LGBT+ teens and adults are still killing themselves, experiencing mental health problems and drug abuse, addiction and stigma from their environments, but they are also becoming more intelligent, more courageous, more empathetic, more authentic, more self-aware, more resilient, more creative and more powerful than ever before.

The need for LGBT+ community services

Stu comments: “Forty years ago not a single LGBT+ residential rehab existed in the world and today there are at least five designated residential rehabilitation facilities specifically for LGBT+ people and a vast number of IOP’s and LGBT+ community and outpatient programmes and many community centres that service the LGBT+ populations of many large cities around the world.”

Casey says: “Throughout LGBTQ+ history the community has been faced with horrific tragedies, personal prejudices, minority stress, and layers of toxic shame.

“Considering, the LGBTQ+ community faces higher rates of drug and alcohol use and historical challenges within our healthcare systems, I believe LGBTQ+ specific residential treatment is important to the individual’s recovery journey.

“LGBTQ+ individuals are given a safe space to explore various issues specific to our community and allows clients to discover who they truly are without any explanation. Although we have come a long way throughout history, there continues to be a need for improvement.

“I hope we come to a place where we no longer have to fight for who we love and we can live a life of truth without fear.”

Things are getting better for our community with 21 countries now celebrating marriage equality, with Taiwan becoming the first Asian country to campaign for and achieve this.

Through the adversity the LGBT+ community has faced and the individuals within it that we have not only given ourselves the opportunity to become stronger, more empowered people but in many of these situations we have also given permission to others to become more resilient and to have hope for a meaningful and enjoyable life.

For Stu, one of the great things about working with the LGBT+ community in psychotherapy over the last 15 years has been seeing individuals striving to find themselves and to become more liberated, more courageous and more self-aware.

Stu says: “Many LGBT+ people see that we now have many rights especially in Western countries including marriage equality and we see that that HIV is under control, that we are safer in many ways then we’ve been before.”

Written by R12

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