LGBT history in the United States

LGBT history in the United States
Stonewall Inn 5 pride weekend 2016.jpg
The Stonewall Inn in the gay village of Greenwich Village, Manhattan, site of the June 28, 1969 Stonewall riots, the cradle of the modern LGBT rights movement, is adorned with flags depicting the colors of the rainbow.[1][2][3]

This article concerns LGBT history in the United States.

18th–19th century

With the establishment of the United States following the American Revolution, such crimes as "sodomy" and "buggery" were considered capital offenses in some states, while cross-dressing was considered a felony punishable by imprisonment or other forms of corporal punishment.[4]

Noah Webster published the original Webster's American Dictionary of the English Language (Webster's Dictionary) in 1828. He included several LGBT terms in his book. Webster, however, focused on terms for gay sexual practices and ignored lesbian sexual practices: bugger, [5] buggery, [6] pathic, [7] pederast, [8] pederastic, [9] pederasty, [10] sodomy, [11] and sodomite, [12] He occasionally cited the King James Version. For example, Webster cited First Epistle to the Corinthians VI to define the homosexual context of the term abuser.[13] Another citation is the Book of Genesis 18 to associate the term, cry to the Sodom and Gomorrah.[14] Both American Presidents James Buchanan and his successor Abraham Lincoln were speculated to be homosexual. The sexuality of Abraham Lincoln has been considered for over a century. Perhaps the greatest proof to connect Lincoln and homosexuality is a poem that he wrote in his youth that reads: "But Billy has married a boy."[15]

LGBT persons were present throughout the post-independence history of the country, with gay men having served in the Union Army during the American Civil War. The United States saw the rise of its own Uranian poetry after the Uranian ("Urnings") movement began to rise in the Western world. Walt Whitman denied his homosexuality in a letter after asked outright about his sexual orientation by John Addington Symonds.[16][17] Horatio Alger, another Civil War-era writer, became a disgraced minister in 1866 after it was discovered that he was guilt of pederasty.[18] Bayard Taylor wrote Joseph and His Friend: A Story of Pennsylvania in 1870. Archibald Clavering Gunter wrote a lesbian story in 1896 that would serve for the 1914 film, "A Florida Enchantment."

Restrictions against loitering and solicitation of sex in public places were installed in the late 19th century by many states (namely to target, among other things, solicitation for same-sex sexual favors), and increasingly tighter restrictions upon "perverts" were common by the turn of the century.[citation needed] Sodomy laws in the United States were enacted separately over the course of four centuries and varied state by state.

Several examples of same-sex couples living in relationships that functioned as marriages, even if they could not be legally sanctified as such, have been located by historians.[19] Rachel Hope Cleves documents the relationship of 19th-century Vermont residents Charity Bryant and Sylvia Drake in her 2014 book Charity and Sylvia: A Same-Sex Marriage in Early America,[19] and Susan Lee Johnson included the story of Jason Chamberlain and John Chaffee, a California couple who were together for over 50 years until Chaffee's death in 1903, in her 2000 book Roaring Camp: The Social World of the California Gold Rush.[20]

Ganymede by Henry Oliver Walker, ca. 1898, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

Henry Oliver Walker was permitted in 1898 to paint a mural in the Library of Congress. What the eccentric artist painted was shocking to pious sympathies: a mural of the catamite Ganymede with Zeus in the depiction of an eagle, which was derived from Greek mythology