Guest Author: Jessica Michelle Polacek

(My friend Jessica has been doing some awesome queer history of Wisconsin on Facebook, but this summary was too good to not pass on. – hbk)

Wisconsin LGBTQ

Continuing our celebration of LGBTQ history on the last day of Milwaukee Pride, here are some other facts about my home state:

1. Milwaukee had its own version of Stonewall, eight years earlier at the Black Nite Bar

2. LGBTQ recorded history in Wisconsin dates to an 1894 arrest in Black River Falls

3. In 1976, just months before Harvey Milk, James Yeadon defeated 13 other candidates and was elected to public office as an openly gay man – twice!

4. Wisconsin was the first state to pass LGBTQ anti-discrimination laws which came through the help of religious leaders

5. Emmanuel UCC in Oconomowoc was the first open and affirming church in the state

6. Opened in 1968 by June Brehm, This Is It, one of Milwaukee’s beloved gay bars, is one of the oldest in the country

7. Wisconsin was the first state to have three openly LGBTQ elected officials in the US Congress – Tammy Baldwin, Steve C. Gundersen and Mark Pocan

8. Congressman Steve C. Gunderson was unwillingly outed on the floor of the US House of Representatives — then reelected in spite of this

9. Milwaukee was home to some infamous ‘drag wars’ in the 1980s between clubs Two-Nineteen and LaCage

10. Milwaukee has been dubbed an ‘underappreciated gay Mecca’ with more than 100 years of LGBTQ history

11. Nationally acclaimed Gay Peoples Union started right here in Wisconsin

Wisconsin has a rich, colorful and often positive LGBTQ heritage. Just one more reason to celebrate Pride. 

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