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Sunday, 31 July 2011

First Gay Rights Protest at the Pentagon: July 31st, 1965

1965 marked several important milestones in the history of organized gay protest. In April, gay rights advocates held the first ever pickets in front of the White House demanding equal treatment in federal employment and other areas of discrimination. During the year, those pickets would expand to the U.S. Civil Service Commission, Philadelphia’s Independence Hall, and, on 31st July, the Pentagon. Participants in that picket line included gay rights pioneers Frank Kameny, Barbara Gittings (whose birthday is also today; see below), Jack Nichols and eight others. Another 46 years would pass before the military ban on gays serving openly would finally be out the door. The ban officially ends this year on September 20. The New York Public Library has a small online digital gallery of that first Pentagon protest.

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