This thread is intended not just for discussion, but also to educate and inform. The usual "long post" disclaimer applies.
So.... why IS LGBT History Month relevant in a society that overwhelmingly now accepts gay relationships and marriages...? Sadly homophobia still exists. The only way to challenge it is with reason and truth. These are seven reasons why LGBT History Month is not only relevant, but necessary and important, especially when it targets the young. I wish it had been available when I was 14.
1. TO REMEMBER THOSE WITHOUT RIGHTS
There are still 73 jurisdictions in the world that criminalise "private, consensual, same-gender sexual activity", according to Human Dignity Trust. 331 trans and gender diverse people were murdered in 2019, according to group Transrespect. We need to keep fighting for equal rights and holding events that teach people about LGBT issues to combat the ignorance and hate that underpins these crimes.
2. TO REMEMBER HOW WE GOT RIGHTS
Being homosexual was decriminalised in the UK in 1967, recent enough to still be in the minds of many citizens.
The fight to get there was gruelling, and the path to full equality since then has been slow.
Mathematician Alan Turing, who broke the Enigma Code and may have contributed to winning WWII several years early and saving millions of lives, was chemically castrated for being gay- this was a legal method to stop what the government saw as immoral behaviour.
We can’t know how much more he may have contributed to society if he hadn’t been exposed to such violence. How many of us learnt from our history books about the homosexual liberation movement that stopped practices like this?
3. TO DISCOVER THE HIDDEN HISTORIES WE WERE NEVER TAUGHT
Homosexuals have existed as long as the human race, but history books tend to either barely mention, completely ignore or deliberately erase gay people’s existence and contributions.
Many of us may remember learning about war poets Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon- but how many teachers mentioned their homosexuality?
In the Cambridge Museum's Bridging Binaries tours, which span seven of the city's museums, they uncover the histories of gay scientists that were erased because of their homosexuality.
4. TO LET LGBT CHILDREN SEE THEMSELVES REFLECTED BACK IN THEIR HISTORY
LGBT rights charity Stonewall found that two out of five LGBT children don’t learn anything about LGBT issues at school.
What does it do to children when their own identity is not reflected back at them? We read stories as children based on myths, parables and histories to inspire us to achieve, often in spite of a person’s identity. Seeing people you identify with not just exist in history, but achieve huge feats impacts what a person feels they can achieve themselves.
An example is the heroes behind the Stonewall resistance in 1969 which triggered the Gay Rights movement worldwide. Marsha P Johnson, Sylvia Rivera and Storme DeLarverie led the resistance against police brutality in New York at the Stonewall Inn.
They were lesbian and transwomen of colour- the same identity types that in 2019 were murdered more than any other LGBT identity. Young lesbian and transwomen of colour deserve to learn the courage of these people.
5. TO LEARN HOW TO CHANGE THE WORLD
The gay rights movement teaches people the resilience of the gay community, as well as the ability to stand up and achieve what they believe in.
The "Rank Outsiders", 3 gay men and 1 lesbian who were dismissed from the armed forces for their homosexuality, fought the MOD for five years before they won the right for LGBT men and women to serve their country in 1999. They refused to give in despite all the enormous resources of the State wielded against them.
Their protests will inform how to make change happen in the movements of today. Those who fought for their rights deserve to go down in history not just for being jailed, beaten, tortured or murdered in the name of their own causes, but also for their solidarity with other causes too, such as the LGBT movement standing in solidarity with the miner's strike in 1984.
6. TO REMEMBER HOW FAR WE'VE COME, EVEN RECENTLY
Even within the last 30 years the social acceptability of being outwardly gay, bi, trans, intersex or gender-non-conforming has changed dramatically.
Remember when Caitlyn Jenner came out as transgender back in 2015 and how the media exploded...? Now there are transgender people not just out, but celebrated in mainstream culture.
We now have the right to marry, and our marriages aren't given a label to separate them from that which the hetero community has. To paraphrase a slogan much used in recent years; Marriage Means Marriage.
The removal of the ridiculous "Need For A Father" clause from the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act which paved the way for lesbians to obtain IVF treatment and start our own families....... raise our own children in our own homes, and without the sham of a fake relationship with a man just for show.
Our history is being excavated from the censored archives of the past. Historical events are cropping up everywhere. For example, the Bridging Binaries tours run throughout the year in Cambridge, with the sole purpose of righting the wrongs of the erased LGBT histories archived within those museums.
Citizens are now doing their own research, so much so that the British Library last week ran a workshop on how to find LGBT identities in standard archives.
7, TO LEARN ABOUT THOSE DIFFERENT FROM OURSELVES - LGBT HISTORY MONTH DOESN'T EXIST SOLELY FOR THE LGBT COMMUNITY
It exposes the culture of those different from you and helps encourage tolerance through understanding.
Ultimately LGBT History Month enables us to pay homage to those who paved the way to equal rights and the countless numbers who were assaulted, murdered, erased, ignored and discriminated against because of their identity. Is there a young gay male or lesbian in a classroom somewhere who needs inspiring? LGBT History Month can do that, by exposing the heroes we never knew existed, and who were heroes of their time just for existing.
As a teenage girl, I was too terrified to come out. I had to hide my relationship with another girl of my own age. We survived that, but many of those who went before didn't.
How many lives were destroyed...? How much sorrow, misery and torture...? And for what..? You tell me, because I don't know.
LGBT History Month is relevant and important. Not to be scoffed at or derided. It's something that we can all learn from. If we open our hearts and minds.
It's up to you.