List of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, or Transgender Firsts By Year - 1970s - 1972


  • February 14, 1972: the first meeting of the Alice B. Toklas Democratic Club, founded by political activist Jim Foster, took place in San Francisco, on Valentine’s Day, becoming the country’s first gay Democratic political club.
  • The first gay rights legislation enacted in America: March 7, 1972, the East Lansing, Michigan, city council approved by a vote of 4–to-1 an act declaring the city must seek to “employ the best applicant for each vacancy on the basis of his qualifications for the job and without regard to race, color, creed, national origin, sex or homosexuality.”
  • July 1972, the city of Ann Arbor, Michigan – home to University of Michigan — would take East Lansing’s measure one step further, prohibiting discrimination against gays not only in employment, but housing and public accommodations as well – becoming the first community-wide gay rights legislation in the nation. Ann Arbor’s act was spurred by the election to the city council in 1972 of Jerry DeGrieck and Nancy Wechsler, who had run on the Human Rights Party ticket.
  • July 1972: Jim Foster would become the first gay delegate to address a major party presidential nominating convention, the Democratic National Convention, held at the Miami Beach Convention Center in Miami Beach, Florida on July 10 to July 13.
  • July 1972: Democratic presidential candidate George McGovern would endorse gay rights, the first US presidential candidate in history to do so; party stalwarts would denounce him.
  • John Hospers — first openly gay man to run for president of the United States.
  • William Johnson became the first openly gay person to be ordained in a mainline Protestant denomination, the United Church of Christ.
  • Nancy Wechsler became the first openly gay or lesbian person in political office in America; she was elected to the Ann Arbor City Council in 1972 as a member of the Human Rights Party and came out as a lesbian during her only term there.
  • Camille Mitchell became the first open lesbian to be awarded custody of her children in a divorce case, although the judge restricted the arrangement by precluding Ms. Mitchell's lover from moving in with her and the children.
  • Freda Smith became the first openly lesbian minister in the Metropolitan Community Church (she was also their first female minister).
  • Madeline Davis became the first openly lesbian delegate elected to a major political convention when she was elected to the Democratic National Convention in Miami, Florida. She addressed the convention in support of the inclusion of a gay rights plank in the Democratic Party platform. In 1972 she also, along with Margaret Small, taught the first course on lesbianism in the United States (Lesbianism 101 at the University at Buffalo.) That year she also wrote and recorded "Stonewall Nation," the first gay pride anthem, which was produced on 45 rpm record by the Mattachine Society of the Niagara Frontier.
  • Jobriath Boone became the first openly gay rock musician to be signed to a major record label, Elektra Records.
  • Australian soap opera Number 96 features the first openly gay male character (played by Joe Hasham) in an on-going role on Australian television.
  • Hawaii would become the first state to decriminalize consensual homosexual sex acts between adults, while Delaware became the sixth state in the nation to repeal its sodomy law.
  • New York City Mayor John Lindsay issued an anti-bias order protecting city employees from discrimination based on homosexuality. Meanwhile, in San Francisco, the Board of Supervisors banned discrimination based on gender and sexual orientation for both the city and those doing business with the city.
  • National Coalition of Gay Organizations called for the repeal of all legislative provisions that restrict the sex of persons entering into a marriage unit and extension of legal benefits of marriage to all persons who cohabit regardless of sex.
  • the nation’s first gay studies program began at Sacramento State University in California.
  • first off-Broadway play, Nightride, to discuss gay marriage. It would stir controversy with its more strident depiction of a black-white (interracial) homosexual marriage.
  • October 1972: first legal challenge for gay marriage; US Supreme Court heard the case of Baker v. Nelson, which challenged the constitutionality of a state law defining marriage as between one man and one woman. However, the Supreme Court established in the case that such a law is constitutional and does not violate the Equal Protection Clause, Due Process Clause and right to privacy under the 14th Amendment.
  • October 1972: Maryland becomes the first American state to pass a statute banning marriage between homosexual couples
  • November 1972: That Certain Summer aired on ABC, the first television screenplay to sensitively explore homosexuality through the story of an American housewife (Hope Lange) losing her husband (Hal Holbrook) to a young artist (Martin Sheen).
  • American Psychiatric Association (APA) voted 13-0 to remove homosexuality from its DSM-II (the official list of psychiatric disorders). The APA also passed a resolution urging an end to all private and public discrimination against homosexuals.
  • first gay and lesbian synagogue in America opened in Los Angeles, California. Begun as the “Metropolitan Community Temple,” the fledgling synagogue would change its name to Beth Chayim Chadashim, Hebrew for “House of New Life.”

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