Since 1978, GLAD has achieved scores of legal victories to end discrimination based on sexual orientation, HIV status, and gender identity and expression.

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In 1978, during a different hot, tumultuous summer, at the height of disco and in the wake of orange juice queen Anita Bryant’s national anti-gay crusade, GLAD was born.

That year, young Boston lawyer and GLAD founder John Ward knew that it was revolutionary for an organization to have the words “gay and lesbian” in its name, much less advocate for LGBTQ+ legal rights.

But revolutions are born out of necessity. The necessity of that moment was a Boston police sting operation that targeted and outed hundreds of gay men. They needed legal defense and representation, and John stepped up.

Since that time, with your support, GLAD has changed the landscape of LGBTQ rights in more ways than can be summarized. Check out our timeline below to learn a little more about what we have accomplished together, and join us in our ongoing work to ensure that the future is a place that celebrates all of us, and where all can live freely and authentically.





GLAD is Founded

GLAD is founded in response to a sting operation against gay men at the Boston Public Library.

Man Sues Boston Headline photo


Credit: Gay Community News

Defending the Right to Free Speech

GLAD defends a man arrested and charged with disorderly conduct for posting publicity for a Gay Pride rally.

GLAD folks standing behind handsewn fabric banner saying GLAD Gay and Lesbian Advocates & Defenders

Tuxedos for Two

In Fricke v. Lynch, GLAD wins the right of Rhode Island high school senior Aaron Fricke to attend prom with his boyfriend.

Cover photo of "Reflections of A Rock Lobster: a story about growing up gay by Aaron Fricke." A person kneels in the picture with a collared shirt, looking at the camera

First National Gay & Lesbian Legal Directory

GLAD publishes the first national gay & lesbian legal directory in an effort to connect the gay and lesbian community with state-specific friendly attorneys, who can effectively represent them.

person holding up an intersex-inclusive progress pride flag in the wind, blue sky behind and trees in foreground

Rights Cards

In an action designed to inform and protect the gay community when interacting with the police, GLAD begins producing and distributing Rights Cards.

Graphic with black text on teal: Know Your Rights: GLAD

Defending MA Gay Rights Bill

GLAD files an amicus brief responding to Massachusetts State Senate questions surrounding a proposed gay rights bill. MA Supreme Judicial Court rules that the term “sexual preference,” as used in the bill, is not constitutionally vague and the bill again goes before the legislature.


Beginning Work with National Sodomy Law Project

GLAD joins a collaborative effort, with other gay and lesbian legal organizations and ACLU chapters, to challenge state sodomy laws still in existence across the country.

person holding up an intersex-inclusive progress pride flag in the wind, blue sky behind and trees in foreground

Creating the AIDS Law Project

In response to complaints from several sources in the community alleging discrimination in the treatment of gay men at a Boston hospital, GLAD launches the project to protect the rights of people living with and affected by HIV and AIDS.


The Best Interest of Children

In Babets v. Johnston, GLAD sues to allow gay and lesbian people to be foster parents in MA.

Plaintiffs Don Babets & David Jean

Credit: Ellen Shub 2007

Honorable Discharge

GLAD wins one of the first honorable discharges for a U.S. service member targeted for being gay or lesbian.