Jeff Evans

February is LGBT History Month

Jeff Evans
February is LGBT History Month

LGBT History Month was started in 2004 by Sue Sanders and Paul Patrick, co-chairs of Schools OUT UK. 2019 will be our 15th year.

Our theme this year is Peace, Reconciliation and Activism. Our four faces are Mariella Franco, Magnus Hirschfield, Robert Graves and Marsha P. Johnson.

Our aim is to claim our past, celebrate our present and create our future. We aim to make LGBT people in all their diversity visible proud and safe.

For too long we have been hidden or lied to by omission. We wish to enable people to learn about the immense contributions LGBT people have made to this country and beyond, thus challenge negative stereotypes and homophobia.

People help make sense of themselves by reference to their past and that of the community they live in and/or identify with . History therefore has always been one of the most politicised subjects, a point recently exemplified by Michael Gove’s advocacy of an even more narrow focus on elitist readings of the past, seeking to prop-up a limited ‘National History’ and ideology.

That narrow elitist reading of the ‘great and powerful’ seek to marginalises the more compelling readings of us, the vast majority. The last century witnessed the flowering of a concerted challenge to narrow elitist history. What emerged was history that highlighted previously ignored or even denied pasts including ‘Women’s History’, ‘Black history’ and ‘Working-Class History’ many influenced Marxist scholarship. What is still emerging is a far more engaging and reliable History, that recognises the rich diversity of ourselves and our communities.

Added to this vibrant and more authoritative reading of our past has been ‘LGBT+ History’, an attempt to investigate past attitudes to sex and gender which have provided powerful insights into how past societies have often celebrated such common human diversities. Over a decade ago the veteran education charity Schools Out launched Lesbian Gay Bisexual &Trans History Month to encourage the ‘Outing’ of LGBT+ History and start the process of offering to the public ready access to the wealth of fascinating ‘LGBT+’ history that is still often hidden or even denied. Hundreds of LGBTHM events will be celebrated in towns and cities up and down the country; find your closet event @ https://lgbthistorymonth.org.uk/event-calendar/.

There is also a more immediate goal. Ignorance feeds fear and in turn fear underscores discrimination including violence such as hate crime. By showcasing the rich and vibrant history of past attitudes towards sex and gender we not only enrich our collective History but also help challenge the ignorance that feeds fearful and destructive reaction. Please help by supporting your local LGBT History Month events. For more info, see www.lgbthistorymonth.org.uk