“NOT TONIGHT, DEAR ... IT’S A FELONY” pinback, c. 1990
One of the most invigorating struggles of our time has been the fight to secure dignity and legal protection from the law for people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans (LGBT). In the modern era, the history of gay awareness can be said to start with Oscar Wilde, and the progressive engagement for human rights has had many ups and downs, the rambunctious disco/bath-house 1970s followed by the harrowing advent of AIDS in the early 1980s.
The last 12 years or so has seen AIDS somewhat corralled by the medical community as well as the institutionalization of gay marriage in the federal legal code. A wide array of figures played key roles over the decades, including Quentin Crisp, Harvey Milk, Rock Hudson, Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner, Divine, Brad Davis, Martina Navratilova, Andy Warhol, Ron Vawter, Ellen DeGeneres, Ru Paul and Keith Haring.
The LGBT History Archive keeps active accounts on Instagram and Tumblr, and even the briefest perusal of either yields an emotionally resonant wave of memories and associations. Only a small percentage of the images posted there are buttons, but over time it adds up—there are many more where these came from.
The struggle continues to this day, as legal rulings are issued addressing the right of trans people to use restrooms of the appropriate gender (unfortunately largely as backlash to the progressive position). As I say, the fight continues.
“BATMAN & ROBIN” pinback, design by Randy Wicker, c. 1969
“FUCK YOU I’M GAY” pinback, c. 1974
More after the jump…