Our Queerest Century

A team of queer superheroes take to the air
(Marcos Chin / For The Times)

LGBTQ+ people have made tremendous contributions to this country. They cannot be erased.

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In 1924, a Chicago postal worker named Henry Gerber founded the first gay rights organization in the United States. It lasted less than a year. He was arrested on trumped up charges and lost everything.

But the movement Gerber and the Society for Human Rights helped spur led to a century of progress that he never could have imagined and backlash that would have been much more familiar.

Our Queerest Century explores these 100 years of history and exceptional contributions by LGBTQ+ people through six personal essays by queer writers and a groundbreaking poll gauging the views of adults in California and throughout the country.

The project is the work of dozens of queer and allied journalists and artists from throughout The Times newsroom and beyond.

The essays consider the influence of queer people in the arts and entertainment, law and democracy, their heroism in the fight against AIDS. They speak to the lives of young LGBTQ+ Californians and their hopes for the future.

The poll helps explain why rights for gay men and lesbians have expanded and why transgender and nonbinary people still face serious discrimination — even in California, home to the largest LGBTQ+ population in the U.S. and a major battleground in the fight for queer rights.

In many ways, queer history is California history. And as the largest news organization in California, the Los Angeles Times is uniquely positioned to tell this story.

To bring you Our Queerest Century.

— Maria L. La Ganga, deputy managing editor, California and Metro

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Read more: Queer people have shaped America. Why celebrating that fact protects kids

Read more: ‘I don’t have to be caged for your happiness’: Why I find hope in today's queer youth

Read more: We must remember the heroes of the AIDS epidemic, not just the trauma

Read more: Our Queerest Century: A curated timeline

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Read more: How have LGBTQ+ people had a positive influence in your life? We want to hear from you

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Read more: Americans approve of LGBTQ+ people living as they wish, but their support drops for trans people, poll shows

Read more: The U.S. has caught up to California on views of LGBTQ+ rights, poll shows

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.