Year of Graduation


Document Type




Directing Professor

Peter Coogan


Gay history, as it is currently taught in America, centers the Stonewall Riots of 1969 as a cataclysm of social change for gay rights, and as the beginning of gay resistance. Most histories of gay resistance in America will mention efforts of early homophile organizations, and credit the Stonewall riots as a cumulation of those earlier efforts. But this is an inaccurate interpretation of gay history. The homophile movement deserves vastly more credit for how gay Americans navigate the world today than do the riots at the Stonewall Inn. This paper will identify these individuals and the several early organizations that make up this “homophile movement.” This is a period of activism and organization preceding the majority of written gay history focusing on the Stonewall riots and Gay Liberation. The term “homophile” was a term created by gay activists in the 1950s who worried that the word “homosexual” would be too off-putting to heterosexuals they sought to gain support from; the suffix “phile” replaced sexual with an emphasis on love.