Honor Our LGBT Elders Day on May 16th each year recognizes the thousands of people in the LGBT community who have paved the way for access and social acceptance.

The rights and acceptance that LGBTQ individuals have today did not occur in a vacuum or happen by accident. LGBT elders worked hard to gain rights and social acceptance. Although LGBT’s history continues to be written, learning the history help to educate and develop understanding. Many pivotal events created a lasting impact, and the people behind those events deserve recognition.

  • 1924 – Henry Gerber establishes the Society for Human rights, the first gay rights group in the United States.
  • 1969 – The Stonewall riots begin in New York City.
  • 1973 – The American Psychiatric Association removes homosexuality from the official list of mental illnesses. Being gay or lesbian is no longer considered a mental illness.
  • 2004 – Massachusetts becomes the first state to legalize same-sex marriage.

These are only a few of the events that made lasting change. The day offers an opportunity to explore more history and people who have brought more equality to the LGBT community. While more work needs to be done, be sure to take time to recognize the LGBT elders who made a difference.  


During Honor Out LGBT Elders Day, community centers, faith organizations, educational institutions, and aging service providers recognize the lives of LGBT older adults and honor their contributions to history.

Organize an event giving LGBT elders an opportunity to speak about their experiences. Host a luncheon, tea, or seminar recognizing LGBT elders for their contributions in your community. Create a badge for social media and change your profile letting others know you honor your LBGT elders. Learn about the Stonewall Riots or the history of the National Gay and Lesbian Taskforce. 

Discover more about those who came before you and share the history using #HonorOurLGBTEldersDay to post on social media.


In 2015 Nate Sweeney founded Honor Our LGBT Elders Day to recognize the contributions and leadership of the older members of the LGBT community. 

The Registrar at National Day Calendar proclaimed the day to be observed on May 16th, annually.

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May 16th Celebrated (and Not So Celebrated) History


Following the Civil War, the 39th Congress passes legislation creating a five-cent coin. The legislation also took a step to rectify and make illegal a previously issued five-cent note (paper money) known as fractional currency. When Congress authorized a third printing of the note, it intended to honor Meriwether Clark with his image on the note. However, the legislation only mentioned the explorer’s last name. When Secretary of Treasury Spencer M. Clark received the authority to start designing the five-cent notes, the secretary placed his own image at the center of the fractional bill. The bill created the first five-cent coin while also making the previous five-cent notes illegal and eliminating Spencer Clark’s legal image.

The five-cent coin, made of nickel and copper, became known as the nickel.


The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences held the first Academy Awards ceremony at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel in Los Angeles, California. The event honored two years’ worth of films and performances from 1927 and 1928.


U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop released his report declaring the nicotine in tobacco to be addictive similar to heroin and cocaine.

May 16th Celebrated (and Not So Celebrated) Birthdays

Elizabeth Palmer Peabody – 1804

In 1860, Elizabeth Palmer Peabody opened the first English-language kindergarten in the United States. At the time, education for children younger than 6 years old was uncommon.

H.H. Holmes – 1896

Considered America’s first serial killer before the term was even coined, H.H. Holmes confessed to 27 murders, though some estimate his total number of victims may be much higher. Born Herman Webster Mudgett, Holmes terrorized Chicago during the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair.

Henry Fonda – 1905

An actor of both stage and screen, Henry Fonda earned critical acclaim for roles in The Grapes of Wrath and an Academy Award for On Golden Pond.

Liberace – 1919

Born Wladziu Valentino Liberace, the American pianist rose to prominence in 1951 when his self-named program The Liberace Show premiered.

Janet Jackson – 1966

The American singer, songwriter and performer won her first Grammy in 1989 for her Rhythm Nation 1814 video. That year she was also nominated for Best R&B vocal performance, Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocals and Producer of the Year.