Introduction There have always been and always will be people who engage in homosexual activities and relationships and those who do not conform to the gender binary. Being “gay” is a modern political concept. It refl ects the efforts made by homosexu- als to fi ght against a heterosexist society that tells them they are deviant and not deserving of full human rights. LGBT rights are the process of claiming the respect due all people. Historical Overview of LGBT Rights and Issues Until the Industrial Revolution, the lives of most people were the same and unchanged. The development of steam power, the use of fossil fuels, and the invention of electricity were technical developments that increased the ability of humans to communicate and be productive. These events occurred during the 1800s. Before that, most people worked on farms. A farmer in seventeenth-century England would be virtually indistinguishable from a farmer in 180 C.E. Rome or a farmer in Egypt or China or Africa in 2000 B.C.E. Cultures slowly evolved, and most accepted homosexual behaviors. In general, as long as a person who owned property fulfi lled his or her familial obligations of producing children, whom they had sex with was relatively immaterial. And, in general, the society really didn’t care what poor and marginalized people did sexually as they had no need for assuring property rights through family lineage. What is rarely written about are, what anthropologists term, all-male societies (or societies made up of one gender). Jamestown, the fi rst settlement in America by Europeans, was made up exclusively of men. Frontiersmen, the military, and the movement west were conducted mostly by men. The early settlement of the Midwest, mountains, desert regions, California, Oregon, and Washington was by men. For example, in 1848, San Francisco had a population of 812 people of whom approximately three-fourths were male. Within three years these numbers would become more male dominated as 25,000 Chinese men came to California through San Francisco to participate in the Gold Rush of 1851 and to build the cross-continental railroad. Whom did these men have relationships with? We can only conclude that same-sex relationships were, in fact, the norm in all-male soci- eties, yet public documents will have no record of these lives. LGBT Rights in America The Americas were populated for many thousands of years before the arrival of Europeans. Hundreds, if not thousands, of languages were spoken, and only a few
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