1970: Midnight Cowboy wins the Oscar for Best Picture, becoming the first (and only) X-rated film to do so. It is also the first major Hollywood film to feature an onscreen sexual encounter between two men. The film’s director, John Schlesinger, also gay, wins for Best Director.
1976: Civil rights crusader and U.S. Congresswoman Barbara Jordan (D-Texas) upsets gay supporters when she publicly refuses to co-sponsor federal gay rights legislation. “That’s the very thing I can’t do. I do not feel that politically I can do that.” She says she is afraid she will lose voters’ support if she becomes associated with gay rights. On a radio talk show appearance earlier, Jordan was angered over comparisons between gay rights and the black civil rights struggle of the Sixties. “There is no way, that I can equate discrimination on the basis of sexual preference with discrimination on the basis of skin color.”
2009: The Vermont Legislature votes to override Gov. Jim Douglas’s veto of a bill allowing gays and lesbians to marry, legalizing same-sex marriage. It is the first state to legalize gay marriage through the legislature; the courts of the other states in which the marriage is legal—Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Iowa—gave approval.
2009: New York City officials announced that the Stonewall Riots of 1969 will be featured in an official city tourism campaign capitalizing on the 40th anniversary of the uprising in June 2009, and promoting the city as a gay and lesbian tourist destination.
2011: The Arkansas Supreme Court upholds a 2010 lower court ruling that a 2008 voter-approved ban on adoption by unmarried cohabiting couples is unconstitutional.
2012: Kate McKinnon, formerly of The Big Gay Sketch Show, joins the cast of Saturday Night Live as the first openly lesbian member of the show (following in the footsteps of other gay SNL cast members Terry Sweeney and Danitra Vance)