The gay "climate" of the 80's
1980 - Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, a group of San Francisco drag nuns, form in California
- Democratic National Convention nominates a black gay rights activist and thus begins to support gay rights
1981 - First report of what is now called AIDS - New York Times article states "Rare Cancer Seen in 41 homosexuals."
- Wisconsin became the first state in the US to pass a gay rights bill.
- PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) forms
1982 - First gay games held in San Francisco. Over 1,300 gay men and lesbians athletes form 28 states and 10 nations participated.
- Center for Disease Control investigates what is being called a "gay plague." Dr. James Curran coined the term for the epidemic disease that was unprecedented in the history of US medicine.
- Torch Song Trilogy opens on Broadway
- GMHC (Gay Men's Health Crisis) forms to help gay men with AIDS
- Michael Hardwick, 28, brought up on sodomy charges after police barged in on him and his lover in their own home. This lays groundwork for future sodomy laws.
1983 - Ringling fundraiser for Gay Men's Health Crisis
- First gay High School Graduation in Philadelphia, PA
- First front page New York Times article on AIDS
- Gerry Studds becomes first openly gay member of Congress
- La Cage Aux Folles opens on Broadway
1984 - The Wall Street Journal permits the use of the word "gay," changing their editorial policy to allow this word. Ironically, the New York Times and Associated Press still banned the word gay except when meaning "happy" or when in quotes.
- Federal officials announce discovery of first probable cause of AIDS - the HTLV-III virus. Scientists created a clone of the virus, considered to be an important step toward developing a vaccine against the disease.
- Charles Howard, a 23 year old gay man was assaulted by three teenagers. This was one of the first reported gay hate crimes in the US.
- Gays and lesbians now form the seventh largest voting block in the US, showing their gain in political power
1985 - First HIV blood test
- The first gay high school in New York City, The Harvey Milk School, opens
- Movie star Rock Hudson dies of AIDS, putting a face on AIDS in America
- An Early Frost, a TV movie about AIDS, premiers
- Terry Sweeney, a comedian on Saturday Night Live, becomes the first openly gay TV star
- First International Conference on AIDS held
1986 - The Reagan Administration states that the treatment of persons with AIDS is not of Federal concern
- US Surgeon General Everett Koop publishes a report on AIDS, urging sex education as a means of prevention
- Roy Cohn, Senator Joseph McCarthy's chief counsel, dies of AIDS
1987 - The National March on Washington, D.C. for Lesbian and Gay rights drew over 500,000 people, making it the largest civil rights demonstration in history
- AIDS memorial quilt unveiled in Washington, D.C.
1988 - The Episcopal diocese of Newark, NJ becomes the first church in the US to support ministers and congregations who condoned and blessed relationships between gay and lesbian couples