AN A-Z GUIDE: Queer History

vor 4 years

A definitive guide and celebration of all things queer!



The annual Pride Month can no longer take place as originally planned, but rainbow flags are still hanging from shop windows, public transport, and parliament buildings. 

Though the bigger Pride events are shut down as a consequence of the coronavirus pandemic, some smaller parties and protests are planned to remember the Stonewall riots of 1969. Here is our guide to the long history of the queer community, and to understand why it’s important for us to acknowledge and appreciate equality and love.


Text: Fräulein Team

A is for Ally

These people are the beacons of hope within the LGBTQI * community. The individuals who are motivated (and motivate others) by enlightened self-interest to end homophobia, biphobia, transphobia. Allies can identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, cisgender, intersex, queer, questioning, or heterosexual. Being an ally opens up the chance to get to know 10% of the population who you would not normally interact with. Celebrity LGBTQI * allies include Dua Lipa, Naomi Campbell, and Benedict Cumberbatch (not forgetting Mother Monster, Lady Gaga herself who also identifies as bisexual).


B is for Bisexuality

The B in LGBTQI * is still one that is often misjudged or generalized as sex-crazy machines, cheating partners, and greedy lovers. More recently though, there has been an increase in representation in bisexuality in popular culture.


C is for Coming Out

This is when someone wants to reveal to people a part of themselves which they have not yet disclosed or spoken about. It can be a very important moment in the LGBTQI * community, often this is them revealing their sexual orientation or gender identification. While most stories of coming out are often love-filled and capture beautiful moments, there can sometimes be negative repercussions from a coming out. Remember, there is no right way to come out, and the choice should be YOURS.


D is for Discrimination

There are too many countries where being lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, or queer leads to daily discrimination. From verbal abuse and bullying, not being offered job opportunities or the appropriate healthcare, the range of unequal treatment faced is extensive and damaging. Sadly, it can also be life-threatening. In all too many cases, LGBTQI * people are harassed in the streets, beaten up and sometimes killed, simply because of who they are.


E is for Eleganza Extravaganza

Noun. To be your most opulent and elegant-self. The word derived from the ballroom scenes of New York City, eleganza extravaganza has seen it’s usage surge within the queer communities thanks to a little show called RuPaul’s Drag Race (heard of it?) 


F is for France

Did you know that France was one of the first European countries to decriminalize homosexual acts between two adults in 1791!


G is for Gilbert Baker

The creator of our wonderful rainbow flag. During his time at the army, Baker was based from 1970 to 1972 in San Francisco, which was the time he noticed the first Women’s, civil rights and gay movement. Gilbert Baker was then motivated to create a flag, which should celebrate all of that.


H is for Harvey Milk

As a Gay Rights Activist and community leader Harvey Milk will go down in history as one of the first openly gay officials in the USA after being elected as Board of Supervisors in San Fransico. Sadly, he was shot and killed a year later though his legacy lives on as his life and work have been documented in numerous books and films.


I is for Intersex

It’s a general term to describe a person who may have the biological attributes of both sexes or whose biological attributes either from the inside or outside do not fit with typical societal assumptions about what constitutes male or female in a mainstream way. Intersex people may identify as male, female, or non-binary.


J is for Justice

As a response to centuries of persecution by church, state and medical authorities, the LGBTQI * community has been fighting for equal rights for over 150 years now. Make no mistakes, we are not talking about special, but equal rights. While a lot has been accomplished in western civilization, where same-sex marriage and adoptions for gay couples have mostly been legalized, let’s not forget about the numerous red spots on the global map where human rights for LGBTQI * people are still a dream that has yet to come true. Especially on the African and Asian continent countless people are still being killed or imprisoned because of their sexuality. But we don’t even have to look this far: last year 245 cases of anti-LGBTQI *-related crime occurred in Germany alone with tendencies rising. This clearly states that this fight is far from over. 


K is for Kink

From leather daddies to role-play kinks, fetishes are becoming more mainstream. Fetishes may evoke images of dark latex-suits and complicated sexual contraptions but the gay culture, in particular, brought sexual kinks to ‘normal’. The appearance of kinks in modern media made underground gay culture more common and society starts slowly understanding and even practicing them. Especially in the gay community, it became easier to find and meet up with like-minded fetishists.


L is for Lesbian

Even though Lesbians got the first letter in LGBTQI*, they seem to be the least visible group which is a shame since they have quite a rich history of the community. The word “lesbian” literally means “from the island of Lesbos”, which is where the famous poet Sappho was born around 630 BC, she writes her poems on feelings of loving women and their beauty. 1947 introduced the first lesbian focused magazine “The Ladder” by Edith Eyde, in spite of anti- LGBTQI * laws making it illegal to publish such content. A few years later, the first known lesbian rights organization in the United States formed in 1955. The Daughters of Bilitis hosted private and social functions while living in fear of police raids and having to endure threats of violence and discrimination in bars and clubs. Nowadays, it seems to have become more silent around the lesbian community. Time for gay females to get back on the main stage!


M is for Marsha P. Johnson

Marsha P. Johnson, an American gay liberation activist, and Drag Queen was one of the most prominent figures in the Stonewall uprising. The middle ‘P’ in her name stands for “pay it no mind,” referring to her gender. Stonewall was previously a bar intended solely for gay men, but with Miss Marsha, they made an exception— making her the first drag queen or female-identifying person allowed inside. Shortly after the Pride Parade in 1992, Marsha was found dead in the Hudson River. The case was closed, yet never solved. A 2017 documentary was released on this seminal being’s life, her fight for equal rights, and her unlawful death, directed by David France.


N is for New York City

New York City, home to many of the gay liberation movements, monuments, and pride parades that have granted the rest of the world a view of the liberty to love and live with who you wish. NYC is home to the Stonewall Inn, the national LGBTQI * memorial, and its streets are filled in July during the annual Pride Parade.


O is for Orlando

The shooting at gay nightclub Pulse in 2016 is the deadliest incident in the history of violence against LGBTQI * people in the US, as well as the deadliest terrorist attack in the US since the September 11 attacks in 2001. 49 people were killed and 53 more were injured, during a three-hour standoff that was played in real-time on the news. Because of this horrific act, police presence was increased exponentially around LGBTQI * landmarks and events. A memorial site and museum are currently in the works, to be erected in the old nightclub’s location, funded by the city of Orlando.


P is for the Pride parade

The Pride parade in NYC is welcoming its 50th anniversary of celebration this year. With over 5 million gatherings each year and hundreds of linked events taking over the city in the form of celebrations, lectures, rallies, and exhibitions throughout the month, the streets of New York turn into a rainbow and gay pride and camaraderie are on full display.


Q is for Queer

Yes, it’s an identity. But it also conveys a sense of community. Queer is an umbrella term for sexual and gender minorities created for anyone outside the heterosexual norm and does not consider themselves as cisgender to contrast from the mainstream.


R is for Rights

Having sex with a partner of the same sex is still illegal in more than 70 countries and leads queers going to prison for life and or getting punished with death. In too many countries members of the LGBTQI * community are under attack just for who they love, how they dress, and ultimately for who they are. Being lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex means still living with daily discrimination from name-calling, physical harassment in the streets up to killing simply because of who they are. But in some countries the situation developed in the right direction: same-sex marriage is legally performed in more and more countries, nowadays.


S is for Stonewall Riots

It was a revolt that started in the early hours of June 28, 1969, when the New York City police raided the “Stonewall Inn”, a New York gay nightclub. Policemen roughly hauled visitors and employees out of the bar. That led to six days of protest and violent clashes with law enforcement outside the bar on Christopher Street. The Stonewall Riots are seen as the birth of the gay rights movement starting in the USA and continuing all around the world. Every year in remembering the Stonewall Riots “Pride Parades” are held worldwide to stand up for LGBTQI * rights and celebrate life. Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera are often seen as the pioneers of gay liberation and transgender rights activism in New York.


T is for Two-Spirit

It’s a modern term chosen to describe Native American and Canadian First Nation people who identify with a third gender, implying a masculine and feminine spirit in one body with mixed-gender attributes. It was originated in 1990 but is nonetheless an ancient and traditional concept. They fulfill distinct gender and social roles in their tribes and are often involved in mystical rituals.


U is for Unauthorized

Decadence and hedonism aren’t words that only described Berghain. At gay parties across the globe, anything goes (mostly), all in the name of being free and having fun.


V is for Voguing 

Prior to Madonna bringing the highly stylized dance to the mainstream in her “Vogue” music video, voguing was a part of the Harlem ballroom scene. The name is derived from the famous fashion magazine and the poses in high fashion and Egyptian art, but also adding exaggerated gestures to tell stories. The highly stylized dance that was created by Latino and black LGBTQI * communities in the 1960s, drag competitions which were known at ‘balls’ evolved to decadent pageants to ‘vogue’ battles. As part of the battles, voguers would compete for trophies and the reputation of their ‘Houses’ – groups that were part accusation, and part surrogate family. 


W is for “Werk it”

Yaaas, slay, werk b # tch, sickening..blablabla! Over the years gay culture created its own slang lexicon, which does not sound like it has any meaning to most people who are not within certain communities or groups of people. However, it has trickled down into today’s pop culture with people such as Khloe Kardashian constantly opening the gay edition of Duden.


X is for X-rated

Before there was PornHub gay erotica was hard to find and the lookout often came with a lot of shame. Recently, Netflix released a documentary, “The Circus of Books”, about a magical place that provided a gay porn wonderland to its costumers for over 35 years. The bookstore made X-rated movies, XXL-dildos, and queer literature accessible in a way that people could look at each other in the eye while discussing their experiences and preferences. The documentary shows how a very regular Jewish husband-and-wife became one of the biggest distributors of hardcore gay porn in the United States, and also gives the audience insights into the appraisal of the role X-rated media has played in queer culture, health, and progress over the past fifty years.


Y is for Youth

Youth as in “Protect LGBTQ * Youth at any cost.”


Z is for Ze

It’s a gender-neutral pronoun used in place of she or he (pronounced “zee”). While “they” describe the singular of a gender-neutral person that does not identify as male or female but something in between or completely outside the spectrum of gender, the neologism “ze” means the singular non-binary term as well but states the non-affiliation with mainstream even more.

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