In an interesting article on Obama's "evolving" position on same-sex marriage, Jack Cashill describes how the progressive left's feelings towards homosexuals has similarly evolved since the Stonewall Riots that putatively got the gay ball rolling. The New York Daily News, providing me with yet another example* of why it can be so much fun to revel in print media from the past before the vise of political correctness had become as suffocatingly tight as it is today, headlined the incident "Homo Nest Invaded, Queen Bees are Stinging Mad". The Village Voice called it the "Great Faggot Rebellion".
I have a hazy conception of the gay rights movement coming a couple of decades after the civil rights movement, sometime during the eighties as AIDS exploded onto the scene and provided homosexuals with the perfect vehicle to ride to Victimhood. People my grandparents' age do not show sufficient sensitivity to the concerns of either Negroes or sodomites. People my parents' age are better when it comes to blacks and Hispanics, but they don't take queers seriously enough. My generation treats African-Americans, Latinos, gays, and lesbians with more civility. Even we still have a long way to go though, of course!
So when did gay rights enter the American lexicon? Google's Ngram viewer gives some idea:
The phrase was almost non-existent until the late sixties (the Stonewall Riots occurred in 1969). It blew up in the mid-eighties before periodically cresting a decade later at the time the Defense of Marriage Act was enacted. After descending a bit, its ascent has resumed. With the legalization of same-sex marriage across much of the US a seeming inevitability sometime in the near future, the growth trend will likely continue.
* My dad, who is a professor of marketing, collects magazines and newspapers from 40s, 50s, and 60s. Flipping through them always brings a chuckle, albeit one tainted by melancholy. Aw, the way we was.