Washington State LGBTQ History

Picture of the intersex-inclusive progress flag, the Washington state flag, and the flag of the United States against a blue sky.


The Washington State LGBTQ Commission is proud to present the Washington State LGBTQ History Timeline. This timeline explores LGBTQ historical events and milestones and captures some of the most important developments in LGBTQ rights in our state’s history. 

The Commission finds it critical to acknowledge that this timeline is nowhere near complete and that there is plenty more to be added. As a Commission, we are committed to serving LGBTQ people across the entire state and wish to include more history on LGBTQ communities beyond the I-5 corridor. If you are aware of any historical events, or other information from anywhere in the state, we invite you to submit suggestions for this timeline using the form located at the bottom of this page.

We are excited to collaborate with our communities across the state to showcase Washington’s long and vivid LGBTQ past!


1893 - Washington State – Anti-sodomy law passes unanimously [3]

1898 – Seattle, WA - First known drag performance in Seattle by nationally recognized female impersonator Edward Stewart [4]

1933 – Seattle, WA  - Joseph Bellotti opens the Casino Pool Hall, a dance club allowing same-sex dancing [4]

1934 – Seattle, WA - Bellotti opens the Double Header, which may be the oldest continuously operating gay bar in the country, above the Casino [4]

1950s – Seattle, WA – Lesbian bars first established in Seattle [4]

1959 – Spokane, WA – 1st annual gay community fundraiser Imperial Ball (date from quote by police in 1979) [1]

1960s – Seattle, WA - Massive growth of gay bars in Seattle as a result of police payoff system [4]

1967 – Seattle, WA - First gay organization in Seattle, the Dorian Society founded; Peter Wichern on the cover of Seattle magazine [4]

1970 – Spokane, WA – earliest record in The Spokesman-Review is of two Whitworth students about their concerns as gay and lesbians [1]

1971 – Seattle, WA - First Gay Community Center opens near Pioneer Square; Lesbian Resource Center opens in the University District; Paul Barwick and John Singer apply for marriage license [4]

1973 – Seattle, WA - City Council passes an employment nondiscrimination ordinance protecting homosexuals [4]

1973 – Olympia, WA – Evergreen State College opens Gay Resource Center, one of the first student organizations in the state [6]

1974 – Seattle, WA - Seattle Gay News begins publication [4]]

1975 – Seattle, WA - City Council passes a housing nondiscrimination ordinance protecting homosexuals [4]

1976 – Washington State - State sodomy law repealed [4]

1977 – Seattle, WA - Ingersoll Gender Center formed by Marsha Botzer, still providing services today [12]

1978 – Seattle, WA - Initiative 13 defeated; Washington Supreme Court decides Madeleine Isaacson and Sandra Schuster can maintain custody of their children, the first successful lesbian mothers’ custody case in the United States. [4]

1980 – Seattle, WA Greater Seattle Business Association forms to encourage the growth of gay businesses; Violence against gay men prevalent [4]

1982 – Seattle, WA First AIDS case reported in King County; Northwest AIDS Foundation and Chicken Soup Brigade founded; [4]

1983 – Seattle, WA - Seattle allocates funds for AIDS research and services; St. James Cathedral holds mass for attendees of national Dignity (organization of gay Catholics) Conference, Vatican places Seattle Archdiocese under observation [4]

1985 – Olympia, WA -  United Communities AIDS Network founded, originally as “Olympia Aids Task Force.” [6]

1987 – Washington State - Cal Anderson appointed state representative from Seattle’s 43rd District, becoming first openly gay member of the Washington Legislature; People of Color Against AIDS Network (POCAAN) founded [4]

1989 – Olympia, WA - Lynn Grotsky and Lisa Brodoff make legal history with victory in first open trial of lesbians doing a second parent adoption in the United States. Thurston County Superior Court. [6]

1991 – Seattle, WA - Sherry Harris elected to City Council, first openly lesbian African-American to win elected office in the US; Lambert House established as a drop-in center for gay youth, first of its kind in the U.S. [4]

1991 - Olympia, WA - First Pride Celebration in Olympia organized in partnership with Evergreen students working with community based activists, started at Marathon Park and marched to the State Capital. GLOW, Gays and Lesbians of Olympia Washington, founded. Stonewall Youth, founded by Zan McColloch-Lussier as student project, continues to provide support to LGBT youth. [6]

1992 – Spokane, WA – 1st Pride Parade [1]

1992 – Seattle, WA - Bailey/Boushay House opens as a residential care center for AIDS patients; Bisexual and Transgender added to Pride Parade (Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgender Pride Parade/March and Freedom Rally); Entre Hermanos founded to promote AIDS awareness among Latino gays [4]

1993 – Thurston County, WA  Hands Off Washington (HOW) Thurston County Coalition founded, hosted by United Churches.  HOW was the first statewide GLBT rights organization in US history to effectively leave the safety of the big cities and go statewide with active chapters.

1995 – Seattle, WA - Cal Anderson dies of complications related to AIDS; King County defines “domestic partnership” in the County Code and extends benefits to partners of county employees. [4]

2003 – Seattle, WA - Lincoln Park on Capitol Hill renamed Cal Anderson Park; King County requires contractors with the county to provide benefits to domestic partners. [4]

2005 – Yakima, WA – 1st Yakima Pride Fest [2]

2006 – Washington State - Gay rights bill passes the WA legislature [4]; state Supreme Court upholds state ban on same-sex marriage [5]

2007 – Washington State - Domestic partnership for same-sex couples becomes legal in WA [4]

2012 – Washington State - Referendum 74 passed in Nov. 6 elections, making same-sex marriage legal [4]

2013 – Seattle, WA - Seattle elects the first openly gay mayor, Ed Murray [4]

2018 - Rep Skyler Rude from Walla Walla is elected as first out representative in Eastern Washington [11]

2019 – Washington State – Gov. Jay Inslee signed into law legislation sponsored by Sen. Claire Wilson creating the LGBTQ Commission and J. Manny Santiago appointed Executive Director [5]

2019 - Tacoma Dome raises the Pride Flag for the first time [9]

2020 - Speaker Laurie Jinkins sworn in as Washington’s first woman, first out lesbian House Speaker [10]

2021 - Stella Keating, Washington resident, becomes the first transgender teen to testify before the U.S. Senate [7]

2022 - Rep. Pramila Jayapal introduces Transgender Bill Of Rights to Congress

2023 - Secretary of State's Legacy Washington celebrates the 10th anniversary of Marriage Equality in Washington with exhibit [8]



  1. The Spokesman-Review - From The Spokesman-Review archives: Decades of clips show evolution in attitudes toward LGBT community 6/9/2017 [1]
  2. Yakima Pride Timeline of Triumph [2]
  3. Department of Archaeology + Historic Preservation >> LGBTQ History [3]
  4. The Seattle Civil Rights & Labor History Project; LGBTQ Activism in Seattle [4]
  5. Legacy Washington Love Equally Washington’s Journey to Marriage Equality [5]
  6. Olympia Lesbian and Gay History Highlights and Walking Tour [6]
  7. Human Rights Campaign - Stella Keating Becomes the First Transgender Teen to Testify Before the U.S. Senate 3/21/2021 [7]
  8. Forbes - Will Congress Pass Rep. Pramila Jayapal’s Transgender Bill Of Rights?  6/30/22 [8]
  9. South Sound Magazine - Tacoma Dome Dons Pride Flag for the First Time 10/4/2022 [9]
  10. House Democrats - Jinkins sworn in as Washington’s first woman, first out lesbian House Speaker 1/13/2020 [10]
  11. About Rep. Skyler Rude - [11]
  12. About Us - Ingersoll Gender Center - [12]


The Washington Secretary of State's Legacy Washington, authors of "Love, Equally: The Journey to Marriage Equality," and the Washington State LGBTQ Commission host a panel discussion commemorating ten years of same-sex marriage in Washington. 


This timeline was created by Tracey Carlos.

Please submit an event for the Washington State LGBTQ History Timeline here.

WA State LGBTQ History Timeline Suggestion