In June, the Stonewall Riots in New York City gave birth to the Gay Liberation Front, also known as the LGBT Civil Rights Movement.
In December, the American Psychiatric Association removed “homosexuality” as a mental disorder from their Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. Even though the majority of the country believed "homosexuality" was a mental disorder, research supported that same-sex sexual and romantic attraction was a healthy variation of human sexuality.
In January, Sam Burnett and Tony Secuya successfully obtained a marriage license in Arizona. Maricopa County Attorney Moise Berger tried to prosecute them for “filing false documents”. The Gay People Alliance (GPA) was formed in order to solicit defense funds.
In April, State Legislators Donna Carlson, Tony West, and Jim Skelly proposed House Bill 2024 in order to ban same-sex marriage in Arizona. GPA activists like Allyne Bucher, Allen Kather, and Wally Conoway protested and fasted outside the house chambers. After the fast, Allen and Wally were married by Reverend Paul Brenton of Metropolitan Community Church.
A group of Arizona State University (ASU) students formed Free Spirit, an organization that provided special services to the LGBT community in Arizona. They planned the first Gay Awareness Week at ASU. The group was later renamed Gay Campus Community, Gay Campus Crusade and Gay Academic Union.
Bob Ellis, George Rederus, and Barney Robles founded and published the Tucson Gay Newsletter, later named Tucson Observer and Observer Weekly. They started the newspaper in order to inform and unite the LGBT community.
In May, the Tucson Gay Coalition (TGC) was co-founded by Carmine Cardamone and Al DeLabio. As Arizona's first LGBT political organization, they promoted the passing of Tucson Ordinance 4616 which eliminated prejudice and discrimination due to sexual orientation in places of public accommodation, employment, and housing.
Community activist in Arizona, led by Rick Rubadue, met at Casa De Roma and formed Citizens for Constitutional Rights. The main goal of this organization was to fight the proposed “homosexual revisions” to the state’s Criminal Code.
Sunday’s Childe and Pride of Phoenix, LGBT newsletter published in Phoenix, were founded by LGBT activist like Bj Bud and Phil Santhon. The newsletters covered local news, anti-LGBT legislation, and information about community events.
In June, the LGBT community of Phoenix celebrated the first Gay Pride Week. The theme of the week was “Gay Unity”. Free Spirit hosted the first Gay Art Exhibit in the valley.
In response to the murder of Richard Heakin, a gay man who was visiting Tucson, the community planned Tucson's first Gay Pride Festival & Memorial Picnic. The event was organized by TGC at Himmel Park on June 26, National Gay Pride Day.
In February, Anita Bryant, a conservative spokesperson for the "Save Our Children" campaign, visited Tucson. Beverly Ginn, Ric Wilson and other community activist organized a candlelight vigil and human rights rally.
In June, Gilbert Baker, a California artist, designed the first rainbow flag for a San Francisco parade. Over the years, the flag became a national symbol of LGBT pride. The colors, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet, reflect the diversity of the LGBT community.
In October, the Metropolitan Community Church, a LGBT friendly congregation, was set on fire. This event highlighted the police’s indifference to violence against the community. It also unified the community in Phoenix as they raised funds to rebuild the church in a new location. The church was renamed Casa de Cristo.
In November, Harvey Milk, a gay activist and leader from California, and Mayor George Moscone were murdered by Dan White in San Francisco. Also, the first chapter of Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) was organized in Arizona by a group of parents in Phoenix. Their original name was United Parents and Friends Support Group.
Janus, a Gay Theatre Company in Arizona, produced a play titled “Lying in State”. The troupe performed gay themed productions that, at the time, no other company would touch. After 35 productions, the company disbanded in 1987.
In October, over 75,000 people participated in the National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights.
Alternative Relations Center, the first Phoenix LGBT community center, was established by Bob Hegyi and other community members.
The Greater Phoenix Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (GPGLCC) was established to promote business development and increase economic opportunities for the LGBT community and allies. Ten years later, the Tucson Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Chamber of Commerce (TGLBTCC) was established to increase networking opportunities and visibility.
In July, the Democratic Rules Committee modified their charter to include a rule banning the discrimination of “homosexuals”. At the 1980 Democratic National Convention, the Democratic Party became the first political party to endorse a "homosexual rights platform".
In June, the Lesbian & Gay Pride Planning Committee, led by Kirk Baxter and BJ Bud, organized the first Phoenix Pride March & Rally from Patriots Park to the State Capitol. It was a politically focused march to bring awareness to LGBT rights. Over 700 people marched and the keynote speakers at the rally were gay activists Arlie Scott and Leonard Matlovich.
In July, the New York Times printed the first story of a rare pneumonia and skin cancer found in 41 gay men in New York and California. The CDC initially referred to the disease as Gay Related Immune Deficiency Disorder (GRID). When the symptoms were found outside the gay community, Bruce Voeller, a biologist and founder of the National Gay Task Force, successfully lobbied to change the name of the disease to Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS).
The annual Tucson Gay Pride Festival was canceled due to a statewide call to fight LGBT discrimination and oppression. Instead, the LGBT community of Arizona planned a Civil Rights March from Tucson to Phoenix.
The Arizona AIDS Fund Trust, established in Phoenix by Bob Hegyi and Charles Stanley, began to provide medical information and services to individuals being affected by the AIDS epidemic.
In November, John King and Kenny Cunitz opened a second Charlie's Bar in Phoenix. A few weeks later, the Arizona Gay Rodeo Association (AGRA) was formed. AGRA was one of the 5 founding members of the International Gay Rodeo Association (IGRA).