The Society for Human Rights, which was established in Chicago in 1924, is known as the country’s first recognized entity with the purpose of promoting gay rights. The organization strived to bring homosexual individuals together and education and increase awareness of homosexuality to legislators and legal authorities. However in 1925, police places society members under arrest, which ended the organization and no record exists of another Chicago gay rights association until three decades later.
Early on in the 1950s, homosexual men and women established a variety of groups, including the Mattachine Society and the Daughters of Bilitis, both with local chapters located in Chicago in 1955. The organizations strived to educate the public of gay men and lesbians and secure social acceptance.
The University of Chicago Gay Liberation Front organization was established in the late 1960s led by an individual who previously attended the University of Chicago. In early 1970, the Chicago Gay Liberation took in the university group and organized various gay pride events including the city’s original Gay Pride Parade.
In the later part of the 1980s, various gay and lesbian activists partnered with business owners directed a victorious lobbying endeavor that convinced the council of the city to enact the Chicago Human Rights Ordinance that defends gay men, lesbians, and bisexuals from prejudice and inequality. This effort led to a joint venture with the Illinois Federation for Human Rights, which changed to Equality Illinois. In 1997, the city of Evanston became Illinois’ first city to offer protection to people identified as transgender and in 2002 Chicago transgender activists successfully petitioned to include gender identity to the Chicago Human Rights Ordinance.