Volunteer writer, Leah Langley, tells us why LGBT+ History Month is so important to commemorate.
February marks the beginning of LGBT+ History Month which is an annual month-long event recognising lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender history. It was founded by Rodney Wilson in 1994 and observes the history of the gay rights and civil rights movements.
It is recognised by many countries celebrating at different points of the year. The United States, Canada, and Australia celebrate it in October also encompassing National Coming Out Day (October 11th) and commemorates the LGBT right marches that took place in Washington in 1979 and 1987. Berlin have Queer History Month is June whilst Hungary and the United Kingdom observe the occasion during February to coincide with the 2003 UK abolition of Section 28 of the Local Government Act 1988 which had previously banned the promotion or publication of “homosexual materials”, and the teaching of “the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship.”
Sue Sanders and Paul Patrick initiated LGBT+ History Month in the UK back in February 2005. It came in the wake of the Section 28 abolition, the introduction of the Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2003, and the government’s proposals to bring in a single equality act and a public duty. It aims to raise awareness of the prejudice that is faced by the widening LGBT+ community, as well as doing it’s best to combat such prejudice. The month also celebrates the achievement and diversity of the community which is hugely important in making the community feeling seen and welcome. The Department for Education and Skills (DfES) granted funding for LGBT+ History Month during the first two years before it gathered more support from other sources including the likes of the Metropolitan Police Service, Amnesty International and the Crown Prosecution Service.
Many have asked why the month is so important, and for those who don’t know much about it, it may be easy to dismiss it. However, when you hear facts such as ones like there still being 73 jurisdictions in the world that criminalise homosexuality, it’s clear that we still have so far left to go in the acceptance of the LGBT+ community. There have been major changes in just the last 10 years. Much of the world can still remember when Caitlyn Jenner came out as transgender, back in 2015, and the onslaught that she received in the media. But now there are many transgender people who are out and celebrated in mainstream media! The month not only allows for homage to be paid to those who paved the way for the community but, it highlights the innumerable others who were, and are, ignored and discriminated against because of their identity.
Header image designed by Christos Alamaniotis.