February every year marks LGBT History Month here in the UK, and before we go into the whole ‘Well what about Straight History Month?’ thing, let me just address it now. Similar to that of Black History Month and Gay Pride, events like this are meant to highlight the often forgotten or buried achievements, of members of their respected community, throughout a history that is often dominated by a narrative that focuses on white, straight individuals. Not to say that that history is to be degraded, or that historical figures that have had massive impacts on our culture and society, that are white and straight, are not to be respected. Rather the spotlight is shifted, so that minority groups that have historically been persecuted, have a chance to shine. We all on the same page now? Cool.
By no means am I a historical expert. In fact history was one of my least liked subjects back in school, and looking back now I reckon that might have something to do with a lack of LGBT representation, in the stuff I was being taught. Even that of the famous StoneWall Riot in NYC, that was the catalyst for the Gay Pride movement in Western society (which spawned the terribly inaccurate film Stonewall, in 2015). When queer historical figures were talked about in school, like those of Alan Turing, or a surprising number of Kings who were known to have relationships with other men, the queer part was often left out. I imagine this is still probably the after-effects of the now repealed Section 28, of the Local Government Act, which made it an offence for schools to promote homosexuality.
Some might argue that highlighting an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity detracts from the achievements they made and the impact they had. I argue that it is important to highlight that there are people throughout history, who have made the world a better place, and are part of a community that is still often demonised by other groups. To show children that not only is it ok to be gay, bi, trans etc., but to also show them that they can still achieve great things.
Here at Staffs there is plenty of opportunity to get involved, including a celebration of LGBT History Month with a Rainbow Night at Gobble on the 15th Feb. The student LGBT+ Network group have worked immensely hard, and I urge you to check out what events they have lined up over the month to both celebrate and educate.
Like I said, I am no historian, and if anything I encourage you to go out there and look this stuff up for yourself. With google, this kind of information is literally only a few clicks away, so long as you have the drive to want to know more. Even if you don’t do it for yourself, learn about this stuff for the gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans, ace, or pan people in your life. Effort like that from allies does not go unnoticed!
This month, and every month, have a gay old time everyone!