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Queering the DBQ

The AP United States History (APUSH) Course & Exam Description Guide does not mention a single LGBTQ+ person by name. APUSH teachers and students looking to incorporate LGBTQ+ history in their APUSH course work can refer to the following list of historically significant individuals and organizations displayed by time period.

Period 1



An umbrella term used by indigenous people to describe individuals who have both a feminine and masculine spirit and who do not abide to the gender and sexual norms of white society.

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Period 2


Resources coming soon!

Period 3


Topic 3.11 - Developing an American Identity

In Topic 3.11, it is mentioned that APUSH teachers are to include content covering how “religious beliefs [and]…social mores…shape national, regional, and group cultures in America.” By covering the following topics, students would be given a more comprehensive understanding of period 3.

Charity & Sylvia

Charity and Sylvia were two women who lived in a common law same sex marriage in Vermont during the very early 1800s.

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Public Universal Friend

Jemima Wilkinson went to bed with a severe fever and awoke claiming that they were genderless and would be called the “Public Universal Friend” that was sent by god in order to inform humanity that there was an incoming apocalypse that was sent to disturb humanity.

Recommended Resources

The Public Universal Friend: Jemima Wilkinson and Religious Enthusiasm in Revolutionary America by Paul B. Moyer

Period 4


Resources coming soon!

Period 5


Topic 5.10 - Reconstruction

Susan B. Anthony

While Susan B. Anthony’s involvement with the suffrage movement is very well known, it is lesser known that she lived in a Boston marriage.

Recommended Resource

To Believe in Women: What Lesbians Have Done for America–A History by Lillian Faderman

Period 6


Topic 6.11 - Reform in the Gilded Age

Frances Willard, Leader of the WCTU

Frances Willard was a prominent temperance reformer who was a leader of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union and lived in a Boston marriage. 

Recommended Resources

To Believe in Women: What Lesbians Have Done for America–A History by Lillian Faderman

Topic 6.13 - Politics in the Gilded Age

Alice Dunbar Nelson

Alice Dunbar Nelson was an American writer and teacher at Howard High School where she held multiple relationships with women during her marriage to her second husband.

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Carrie Chapman Catt & Mollie Hay

Carrie Chapman Catt was a prominent suffragist who met Mary (Mollie) Garrett Hay and became an influential team in the community of suffragists in the state of New York. These two women lived together in a boston marriage and continued to advocate for gender equality after the ratification of the 19th amendment.

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Period 7

Topic 7.2 - Imperialism: Debates

Anna Rüeling

Anna Rüeling was one of the first lesbian rights activists in history. She gave a notable speech in 1904 titled, “What Interest Does the Women’s Movement Have in Solving the Homosexual Problem?”

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Topic 7.4 Progressives

Anna Howard Shaw

Rev. Anna Howard Shaw was a leader of the National American Women’s Suffrage Association (NAWSA) who lived in a Boston Marriage.

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Molly Dewson

Molly Dewson was the first president of the League of Women Voters who lived in a Boston marriage with her companion Polly Porter.

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Jane Addams

Jane Addams was a suffragist who founded Hull house with her partner in order to aid European immigrants settle into the United States.

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Topic 7.6 - World War I: Home Front

Alan L. Hart

Alan L. Hart was a transgender man who worked as a medical doctor,

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Topic 7.8 - 1920s: Cultural and Political Controversies

Gladys Bentley

Gladys Bentley was an American jazz musician who sang about lesbian relationships during the 1920s and 1930s.

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Ma Rainey

Ma Rainey was a jazz singer who frequently sang about wanting to wear men’s clothes and her attraction to women.

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Dr. Margaret “Mom” Chung

The first Chinese American woman to work as a physician, Dr. Chung fought against discrimination based on her race, gender as well as her sexuality.

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Period 8


Topic 8.3 - The Red Scare

When teaching about the required topic, the Red Scare, teachers and students can also study the Lavender Scare which was the purging of gay people who worked for the U.S. government.

Mattachine Society

The Mattachine Society was an organization founded before Stonewall that advocated for equal rights for homophiles. This organization started One Magazine, the first gay magazine in the United States.

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Society for Individual Rights

The Society for Individual Rights was founded in San Francisco as a homophile organization fighting for equal rights. Rikki Striecher was affiliated with this organization, a business owner and a prominent activist in San Francisco.

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The Lavender Scare

The Lavender Scare was a moral panic that coincided with the Red Scare and McCarthyism of the 1950s. The Lavender Scare was the purging of homosexuals in jobs provided by the federal government. Joan Cassidy, Frank Kameny, Bruce Scott, and Madeleine Tress were all people who got fired from the federal government.

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Frank Kameny

Frank Kameny was fired during the Lavender Scare and is considered by many to be the Godfather of the gay rights movement, Frank Kameny is infamous for protesting for equal rights while wearing suits.

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Topic 8.5 - Culture after 1945

Phyllis Lyon & Del Martin

Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin were both activists who pushed for equal rights in San Francisco. They were also the first lesbian couple to be married by Gavin Newsom, the former mayor of San Francisco before the legalization of gay marriage.

Recommended Resources

ACLU “Homosexuality and Civil Liberties” (1957)

The ACLU did not always advocate for the rights of LGBTQ+ people, especially during the Cold War. In 1957 the following statement was published which presented their position of support for Executive Order 10450 which purged gay people from working for the U.S. government.

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Valerie Solanas

Valerie Solanas was a radical feminist who shot and attempted to murder Andy Warhol. Solanas self published her own manifesto in 1967 that discussed the positives of the eradication of men from American society.

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Topic 8.6 - Early Steps in the Civil Rights Movement (1940s and 1950s)

Christine Jorgensen

An army veteran who transitioned and became the first American transgender woman celebrity in the 1950s.

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Topic 8.11 - The Civil Rights Movement Expands

Sylvia Rivera & Marsha P. Johnson

Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson were two trans women who founded Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries, which helped provide resources to young and transgender individuals who struggle with housing insecurity and poverty.

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Robin Morgan

A pivotal figure in the women’s liberation movement of the 1960s and 1970s who participated in the 1968 Miss America Protest.

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Barbara Gittings was a feminist who led New York's chapter of the Daughters of Bilitis in New York. 

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Bella Abzug, known as “Battling Bella” was a notable congresswoman from New York who was heavily involved in the women’s movement of the 1960s and 1970s. In 1974 she proposed an Equality Act which would modify the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to make discrimination against gay people illegal.

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Elaine Noble was the first openly gay politician to hold statewide office in the United States. She belonged to the National Women’s Political Caucus as well as the Boston chapter of the Daughters of Bilitis. Noble was invited to the White House in 1977 when Jimmy Carter was president.

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Pauli Murray was a brilliant legal scholar and one of the most important women’s rights activists of the 20th century. Murray was a co-founder of the National Organization for Women and helped contributed to the addition of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which banned discrimation based on sex. Murray was also the first African American woman to be ordained as an Episcopalian priest.

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Kay Tobin Lahusen was an lesbian rights activist and an icon in the LGBTQ+ civil rights movement. Lahusen was a founding organizer of the Daughters of Bilitis (DOB), the first national lesbian rights organization in the United States. She contributed to the DOB publication The Ladder and has been recognized as the first lesbian photojournalist.

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Troy Perry is a pastor and the founder of the highly influential Metropolitan Community Church which welcomed LGBTQ+ people. In 1977 he was invited to the White House during the Carter administration along with 13 other out gay and lesbian activists.

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The Upstairs Lounge Fire was a tragic fire in New Orleans that helped galvanize the gay rights movement.

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Topic 8.12: Youth Culture in the 1960s

The Radicalesbians were a radical feminist group consisting of many young women including Karla Jay and Rita Mae Brown during the 1960s. This group famously performed a “zap” at the National Organization for Women conference in May 1970 to call attention to the need for a women’s movement that was more inclusive of issues of importance to lesbians.

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Topic 8.12: Youth Culture in the 1960s

Liz Carmichael was a trans pioneer, the creator of the Dale car and a complicated figure in history.

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Period 9


It is notable that there is no direct mention of LGBTQ+ people or AIDS in period 9. Students often do not learn about AIDS history in APUSH or survey U.S. history courses so the CED should be amended to specifically mention the AIDS crisis and political activism that resulted as a consequence of this health crisis. APUSH teachers and students can use the following resources to help students learn a more complete story of Reaganism and conservatism during the 1980s and the AIDS pandemic.

Topic 9.2: Reagan and Conservatism

This topic includes a very brief reference to “intense political and cultural debates continued over issues such as…diversity, gender roles, and family structures.” Covering the following topics would provide students with a more comprehensive understanding of this time period.

ACT UP is an organization founded in the 1980s to raise awareness about the need for government action to address the AIDS humanitarian crisis. ACT UP is often considered a healthcare organization and a pivotal group who helped pave the way for an expansion of access to health care through the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).

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Maxine Wolfe is a lesbian rights and AIDS activist who founded the women’s caucus within ACT UP. She also founded the Lesbian Avengers and worked as a professor at CUNY.

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Don’t Ask Don’t Tell became an official government policy when it was signed by President Bill Clinton soon after the end of the Cold War. The law stated it was legal to be gay in the milibiary as long as no one in active duty shared that they were gay. It was repealed in 2010 when President Obama was in office.

Recommended Resource

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