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c. 1920

New York City: Lesbians and gay men open some 20 restaurants and "personality clubs" in Greenwich Village.

Paris: Romaine Brooks has begun to paint portraits of famous or soon-to-be-famous lesbians, including her lover, Natalie Barney; Una Troubridge; and herself.

1920

Magnus Hirschfeld's Scientific Humanitarian Committee forms a coalition with two other German homosexual organizations, Adolf brand's Gemeinschaft der Eigenen (Community of [Those Who Are] Their Own Persons) and the German Friendship Association, to revitalize the fight to decriminalize sex between adult males.

1921

United Kingdom: The House of Commons approves a clause making "gross indecency by females" subject to the same penalties as those between males. The House of Lords, however, rejects the clause on the grounds that it would simply publicize a vice that the overwhelming majority of British women know nothing about.

Berlin: Magnus Hirschfeld sponsors the first conference of the World League for Sexual Reform.

April 30, 1921

France: Marcel ProusT publishes the first part of Sodome et Gomorrhe (Cities of the Plain), part of his 16-volume opus A la Recherche du Temps Perdu (Remembrance of Things Past). The themes of male and female same-sex passion interwoven into the previous volumes now come to the fore in an extended essay on the homosexual.

July 19, 1921

The US Senate Naval Affairs Committee issues its "Report on Alleged Immoral Conditions and Practices at the Naval Training Station, Newport, RI," accusing officers under the command of Franklin D. Roosevelt, former assistant secretary of the US Navy, of ordering enlisted men to engage in 11 immoral practices" in order to entrap "perverts" in the MILITARY and obtain evidence against them. The report is also one of the first to document gay male cruising areas, including Riverside Drive in New York City.

March 18, 1922

Magnus Hirschfelds petition for the repeal of Paragraph 175 is presented to the Reichstag. Although 6,000 people have signed the petition, including Sigmund Freud, the late Leo Tolstoy, and Albert Einstein, it falls to persuade German lawmakers to decriminalize sex between men.

December 19, 1922

The God of Vengeance opens at the Provincetown Playhouse. The drama, translated from Yiddish and performed in English for the first time, includes the first lesbian scenes on the American stage.

February 4, 1923

Nazi thugs fire guns into a Vienna homophile gathering attended by Magnus Hirschfeld and wound a number of people in the crowd.

March 6, 1923

Shortly after The God of Vengeance moves to Broadway, the producer, the theater owner, and 12 cast members are arrested and charged with "presenting an obscene, indecent, immoral and impure theatrical production." The play had previously been performed successfully and without interference in nine countries in Europe. Although a jury rules against the play two months later, the verdict is later overturned on appeal.

December 1924

Hanover, Germany: A gay man named Fritz Haarmann has confessed to more than 120 murders, mostly of young men. This month, he is tried and found guilty of 27 counts of murder. The publicity given the case results in a major setback for the German homophile movement.

December 10, 1924

Henry Gerber, a German-born immigrant and early activist, receives a charter from the state of Illinois for the Society for Human Rights, an organization intended to be an American equivalent of contemporary German emancipation groups such as Magnus Hirschfelds. Gerber is arrested soon after and the society falls apart.

May 1925

At the end of a year's worth of police raids on predominantly lesbian and gay restaurants and clubs in New York City's Greenwich Village, only three are left open.

Meanwhile, the Harlem Renaissance gives rise to the earliest documented African-American lesbian and gay subculture.

1926

France: Andre Gide comes 'out' in his autobiographical essay, Si le Grain ne Meurt (If It, Dies . . . ). He is believed to be the first public figure to do so.

Richard Bruce Nugent publishes his experimental short story "Smoke, Lilies, and jade" in Fire!, a magazine anthology Of Harlem Renaissance writers. Nugent's story contains what is probably the first fictional evocation of passion between black men written by an African-American.

The annual Hamilton Lodge Ball, another major feature of the Harlem Renaissance, attracts thousands Of cross-dressing men and women.

September 29, 1926

The Captive, a melodrama about a young woman seduced by an older woman (her "shadow"), creates a sensation on Broadway.

June 1928

Ma Rainey records "Prove It on Me Blues," in which she sings of a night out on the town with friends:

|They must been womens
Cause I don't like no mens.
It's true I wear a collar and a tie ... They say I do it.
Ain't nobody caught me.
You sure got to prove it on me.

July 1928

Radclyffe Hall's The Well of Loneliness, the first major novel in English with an explicitly pro lesbian theme, is published in Paris. Advertised extensively in England, the book proceeds into multiple printings.

November 1928

United Kingdom: a court action begins against Radclyffe Halls The Well of Loneliness. Despite protests from intellectuals including George Bernard Shaw and H. G. Wells, the book is declared obscene and sales are banned in England.

December 15, 1928

The Well of Loneliness is published in the US Americans buy more than 20,000 copies of the book in the next month, making it a bestseller. Also see April 19, 1929.

April 19, 1929

In New York City, an appellate court rules that, contrary to a verdict reached earlier in the year by a lower court, The Well of Loneliness is not obscene. The decision clears the way for even wider distribution of the best-selling novel.