In a fascinating e-mail to Andrew Sullivan, longtime activist Frank Kameny gives credit to Fidel Castro for triggering the American gay rights movement.
While, Castro had no notion, of course, of what he was doing in this context at that time, in my view and in my interpretation of the dynamics of the 1960s Gay Movement, he triggered Stonewall and all that has followed.
News of Castro's incarceration of gays in detention camps in Cuba came out early in 1965 -- probably in March or very early April. At that time "the 60s" hadn't yet erupted in their full force, but the precursors were very well advanced. Picketing was considered the mode of expression of dissent, par excellence.
Jack Nichols approached me to suggest that we ("we"= The Matachine Society of Washngton, of which I was President) picket the White House to protest Cuba's action. I felt that it was rather pointless to picket the American President to protest what a Cuban dictator was doing. So I suggested that we broaden and Americanize the effort. One or more of our signs said (in gross paraphrase, here, from memory) "Cuba persecutes Gays; is America much better?", and others specifically addressed governmental and private anti-gay discrimination here, and other gay-related problems of the day.
The veteran activist was spurred to write Sullivan after Castro recently apologized for sending Cuban gays to labor camps in the 60s.