The first paperback originals include lesbian themed pulp fiction, debuting with Tereska Torres's Women's Barracks, published by Fawcett Crest.
James Barr's Quatrefoil, the romantic tale of a young naval officer, is published. Although it has the tragic ending that remains mandatory for novels about gay men and lesbians, it is one of the first books to feature positive gay male characters who could conceivably be taken as role models.
Scandinavia: Allan Hellman founds Sweden's first gay and lesbian rights organization, which becomes the National Federation for Sexual Equality in 1952.
February 28, 1950
Testifying before the US Senate Committee on Expenditures in the Executive Department (whose members include Joseph R. McCarthy), Undersecretary of State John Peurifroy reveals that the majority of dismissals of State Department employees are based on accusations of homosexuality. Over the next few months, McCarthy and other conservatives accuse the Turban administration of laxity in rooting out homosexuals in government, bringing the Mccarthy Era into high gear.
April 1, 1950
Bowing to Mccarthy Era pressure from anti-Communist conservatives, the Civil Service Commission intensifies its efforts to locate and dismiss lesbians and gay men working in government. Over the next six months, 382 are fired, compared with 192 for the preceding two and a half years.
Los Angeles: A group of black and white men and women, including Merton Bird and Dorr Legg, form Knights of the Clock, a support group for interracial gay, lesbian, and heterosexual couples.
June 14, 1950
After months of controversy, the US Senate authorizes a wide-ranging investigation of homosexuals "and other moral perverts" working in national government.
November 11, 1950
Los Angeles: Chuck Rowland; Harry Hay and his lover, Rudi Gernreich; Dale Jennings; and Bob Hull hold the first of a series of weekly gatherings leading to the formation of a homophile organization the men will call the Mattachine Society.
December 15, 1950
A US Senate committee makes public its report on "The Employment of Homosexuals and Other Sex Perverts". Asserting that homosexuals are a security risk not simply because they are liable to blackmail but also because homosexuality inevitably perverts "moral fibre," the report recommends stringent measures be taken to root all lesbians and gay men out of government.
France: Andre Baudry founds Arcadie, a moderate homophile organization that also produces a publication of the same name.
The California Supreme Court rules in favor of San Francisco's famed Black Cat Bar, finding that no state law prohibits gay men and lesbians from being served alcohol in a public establishment. Four years later, however, a law is passed allowing the state to deny liquor licenses to any BAR that is a "resort for sexual perverts."
Donald Webster Cory (pseudonym of Edward Sagarin) publishes The Homosexual in America, a plea for tolerance that includes the then revolutionary idea that there is "no homosexual problem except that created by the heterosexual society." Perhaps the first American writer to describe lesbians and gay men as a persecuted minority, Cory insists that the "homosexual" must "rise up and demand his rights."
Langston Hughes publishes Montage of a Dream Deferred., which includes " Café, 3 A.M.," a poem about a police raid on a gay bar.
Los Angeles: Bob Mizer's Athletic Model Guild capitalizes on a successful mailing venture by producing Physique Pictorial, the first physique magazine for gay men.
United Kingdom: Gordon Westwood's Society and the Homosexual profiles British gay male life and describes the harmful effects of anti gay laws.
United Kingdom: Brilliant mathematician and computer pioneer Alan Turing is one of 1,686 men charged this year with "gross indecency with males." He is sentenced to undergo a year of hormonal treatments that cause impotence and breast development. He commits suicide in 1954, at the age of 41.
Canada: As part of the Mccarthy Era campaign against leftists and "sex perverts," the Royal Canadian Mounted Police institutes A-3, a special unit whose mission is to root out lesbians and gay men in Canadian government jobs and, somewhat later, to delineate "homosexual networks" in Ottawa and other cities. A-3 compiles a list of suspected "perverts" that quickly grows to include about 3,000 names.
Canada: Parliament makes "homosexualism" an impediment to immigration into the country.
Claire Morgan (pseudonym of Patricia Highsmith) publishes The Price of Salt, one of the first lesbian novels to offer a (relatively) happy ending.
The American Psychiatric Association includes homosexuality as a "sociopathic personality disturbance" in its first official list of mental disorders.
Los Angeles: Dale Jennings, one of the original Mattachine members, is charged with "lewd and dissolute" behavior after being entrapped by a plainclothes officer. The Mattachine Society decides to form a special "Citizens Committee to Outlaw Entrapment" to help him fight the charges and mobilize the gay and lesbian community against police harassment.
June 23, 1952
After an unprecedented campaign that includes the first use of fliers by a homophile group and extensive fundraising to pay legal fees, the Citizens Committee to Outlaw Entrapment declares "a great victory": the case against Dale Jennings, who acknowledges his homosexuality but pleads innocent to charges of "lewd and dissolute behavior," is dropped when the jury falls to reach a verdict after 36 hours of deliberation.
June 27, 1952
US: the McCarran-Walter Immigration and Nationality Act bars immigrants "afflicted with psychopathic personality," a phrase that is interpreted to include all homosexuals.
Harry Hay and other members of the Mattachine Society set up a not-for-profit educational organization and apply for incorporation under California law as the Mattachine Foundation, Inc.
October 15, 1952
Los Angeles: Dorr Legg and six friends, including Dale Jennings, all with ties to the Mattachine Society, discuss forming a group to promote education and research activities beneficial to gay men and lesbians. ONE, Inc., results from the meeting.
Theodore Sturgeon publishes "The World Well Lost," which is considered the first science fiction story to treat homosexuality sympathetically.
United Kingdom: Mary Renault publishes The Charioteer, the story of a young soldier's passion for another man. Because of fears of prosecution for obscenity, it will be six years before the novel is issued in the US
Los Angeles: ONE, Inc., publishes the first issue of One magazine.
The Mattachine Foundation issues a statement denying that the organization espouses any particular "ism," reflecting suspicions held by members and outsiders alike that the Mattachine is in danger of being commandeered by Marxists. March 29, 1953
The Los Angeles Times accuses the Mattachine Society of dangerously subversive activities.
President Dwight D. Eisenhower signs Executive Order 10450, mandating the dismissal of all federal employees determined to be guilty of "sexual perversion." As a result, more than 640 federal employees lose their jobs over the next year and a half. Many more are allowed to resign quietly.
April 11, 1953
The Mattachine Society holds its first constitutional convention at a church in Los Angeles. The original founders begin to lose control of the group to a moderate, anti-Communist contingent led by Kenneth Burns, Hal Call, and Marilyn Rieger.
May 23-24, 1953
When the Mattachine Society reconvenes to approve a constitution, it refuses to seat delegates associated with the Communist Party, including Chuck Rowland, one of the original founders. For the remainder of the decade, the society pursues a low profile, non-confrontational approach to winning societal acceptance of lesbians and gay men.
May 24, 1953
A Mattachine Foundation circular estimates total membership in the society at over 2,000. There are almost 100 different discussion groups meeting in California from San Diego to the Bay Area.
The Kinsey Report on women is released.
Bob Mizer's Physique Pictorial, the first nationally distributed magazine featuring erotic male photography and illustrations, makes its newsstand debut. The quarterly is sold all over the country, providing many men their first hint of the possibilities of gay male eroticism. Later, Mizer will also take political positions, telling readers to join homophile organizations and the American Civil Liberties Union, and, most important, to know their rights.
United Kingdom: historian and philosopher Dr. Jacob Bronowski says "homosexual" on a British Broadcasting Company radio program, Behind the News. This is the earliest documented instance of the words use in an English-language broadcast.
December 3, 1953
United Kingdom: Alarmed by the rise in prosecutions for male-male sex (including several much publicized recent cases involving prominent Britons), two MPs first raise the issue of sex Law reform in the House of Commons.
Estimating that there are more than 6,000 homosexuals in Miami, local police begin a concerted campaign against gay men in which hundreds are arrested on beaches and in bars.
New York City: The Veterans Benevolent Association breaks up due to factionalism and disagreement among members over how active the organization should be in the fight for gay civil rights.
United Kingdom: The Moral Welfare Council of the Church of England issues a report recommending that laws penalizing same-sex acts be revoked and that the age of consent be 17 for all sexual acts.
April 28, 1954
United Kingdom: The Home Office announces that a special committee (later called the Wolfenden Committee) will be formed to study the issue of sex Law reform.
Addressing an American Psychological Association meeting in Chicago, psychologist Dr. Evelyn Hooker presents the results of research done with Rorschach and other personality tests on 30 "male overt homosexuals" and 30 heterosexual men. Dr. Hooker challenges the medical model of homosexuality by demonstrating that the responses of gay and straight men to Rorschach ink blot tests are indistinguishable; gay men appear to be as well adjusted as straights.
The Los Angeles postmaster refuses to accept the October 1954 edition of ONE magazine, calling it "obscene, lewd, lascivious and filthy." One, Inc., appeals the decision in court.
The MattachinE Review publishes its first issue. Contents include the results of Dr. Evelyn Hooker's groundbreaking study .
September 21, 1955
San Francisco: Four lesbian couples, including Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin, found the Daughters of Bilitis, the first homophile organization exclusively for women.
San Francisco: Allen Ginsberg gives a riotous public reading of his poem Howl, a protest against conformity, a celebration of gay sex, and the manifesto of the beat generation.
November 2, 1955
Boise, Idaho: Three men are accused of having sex with teenagers, setting off a politically motivated, 15-month investigation of local gay male networks. Some 1,400 people are questioned in the Mccarthy Era witch-hunt that results. Dozens are arrested, nine men are imprisoned for as long as 15 years, and an untold number of gay men flee the city.
November 24, 1955
In the wake of the murder of a Sioux City, Iowa, boy earlier this year, 29 men suspected of homosexuality have been committed to mental asylums as a preventive measure authorized by the state's "sexual psychopath" laws.
Sam Morford, a psychologist, and Tony Segura, a Cuban-born research chemist, hold the first meeting of a New York City chapter of the Mattachine Society. Both men had been members of the League, an informal and clandestine discussion group that grew out of the Veterans Benevolent Association.
James Baldwin publishes Giovanni's Room, his first novel depicting openly gay main characters. Jeannette Foster publishes Sex Variant Women in Literature, a groundbreaking historical and bibliographical survey of lesbian and female "variant" themes in English, French, and German literature.
At a meeting of the Western Psychological Association, Dr. Evelyn Hooker presents the results of her study, which shows that gay men are no more likely to have psychological problems than heterosexual men.
January 10, 1956
The Mattachine Society of New York holds its first public meeting. About 30 people attend the meeting, which is held at the Diplomat Hotel.
Los Angeles: ONE, Inc., members Jim Kepner, Dorr Legg, Merritt Thompson, and Julian Underwood begin "US Homophile Studies Classes," the earliest organized Lesbian and Gay Studies program in the US.
The Daughters of Bilitis publishes the first issue of the Ladder, mailing 200 copies to lesbians and San Francisco community professionals.
Ann BannoN publishes the paperback original Odd Girl Out, the first of four widely read pulp fiction novels that depict lesbian life of the era as lived by the characters Beth, Laura, and, starting with the second book in the series, Beebo.
January 7, 1957
The board of directors of the American Civil Liberties Union approves a national policy statement asserting that Laws against sodomy and federal restrictions on employment of lesbians and gay men are constitutional.
Bob Mizer's Physique Pictorial prints the first of Tom of Finland's illustrations to appear in the US
September 4, 1957
United Kingdom: The Wolfenden Report is published. It recommends that private consensual sex acts between men aged 21 or older be decriminalized.
January 13, 1958
The US. Supreme Court unanimously reverses three lower court rulings that an issue of ONE magazine seized in Los Angeles was obscene. The Court's affirmation of free speech for gay and lesbian writing opens the way for more widely distributed publications.
United Kingdom: A distinguished group of (mostly heterosexual) men and women demonstrate their support for implementing the recommendations of the Wolfenden Report by becoming founding members of the Homosexual Law Reform Society and its officially registered charity, the Albany Trust.
September 20, 1958
New York City: Lesbians including Barbara Gittings hold the first Daughters of Bilitis New York meeting at the offices of the Mattachine Society of New York. The chapter is the first lesbian organization on the East Coast.
Joe Cino opens Caffé Cino at 31 Cornelia Street in Greenwich Village. The coffeehouse, which caters to a largely gay, bohemian clientele, provides a venue for several openly gay playwrights, including Robert Patrick, Doric Wilson, and Lanford Wilson, and leads to the development of an alternative theatrical scene off-Broadway.
October 7, 1959
Russell Wolden, running for mayor of San Francisco as a Democrat, accuses the incumbent of welcoming and collaborating with the city's "sex deviates." His tactic backfires: the city's newspapers accuse him of irresponsible mudslinging, and he loses in the next month's elections.
December 15, 1959
Reflecting the cautious conservatism of the current homophile movement, Mattachine officer Don Lucas writes Boston Mattachine founder Prescott Townsend (locally notorious Boston Brahmin-turned-activist) asking him not to begin a campaign for Massachusetts sodomy law reform. Lucas believes the risk of a backlash is too great.