February is LGBT+ History Month. In a series of posts to mark the occasion, Conor Wilman from the IP Out committee will be sharing information and insights into the history of LGBT+ equality and of the History Month itself, as well as related LGBT+ issues.
Today Conor writes:
February is LGBT+ History Month. This is a time for us to remember the struggles of our elders and ancestors in the LGBTQ community in their quest for societal acceptance and for legal protection and equality. But when did it start, and why?
The first LGBT+ History Month was celebrated in the US in October 1994. It was started by a high-school teacher from Missouri who, with the backing of various LGBT+ rights groups across the country, intended the month to be a time to teach and celebrate Lesbian and Gay history. The hope was that education would encourage tolerance and understanding of LGBT+ people. October was chosen as it also coincided with National Coming Out Day on 11 October, which marked the Second March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights in 1987, also known as “The Great March”.
Across the pond, however, LGBT+ people were being actively oppressed by the UK government. Section 28, originating from Margaret Thatcher’s era, stated that local authorities were not allowed to “intentionally promote homosexuality or publish material with the intention of promoting homosexuality”.
Nearly a decade after the first LGBT+ History Month, in February 2003, Section 28 was repealed.
While acceptance and tolerance of LGBT+ people in the UK had improved, there was still a lack of any formal education on the issue. Teachers and activists Sue Sanders and Paul Patrick devised a UK LGBT+ History Month as a Schools OUT UK project to try and solve this issue. February was chosen as the Month to coincide with the repeal of Section 28.
Sanders and Patrick had envisioned a series of events across the country numbering between 20 and 30. But enthusiasm and support for the initiative was far beyond their expectations, with over 150 events taking place.
Since 2005, the Month has taken place every year. The Month in 2011 was launched at Twickenham Rugby Stadium and carried the Month’s first theme: Sport. Subsequent years have had themes ranging from Geography to Music to Religion and Philosophy. This year’s theme is “Poetry, Prose and Plays” and looks to celebrate the works of historical LGBT+ figures like Lorraine Hansbury and William Shakespeare.
The LGBT+ History Month official website has an extensive list of events. There’s something for everyone! And for once, many of them are not in London.
IP Inclusive has its own set of events happening this month, which you can find on our Events page.
IP Out will be celebrating the Month by releasing a series of articles on each Friday in February looking at a range of LGBTQ+ related topics, as well as with a social event in Bristol on Tuesday 11 February.
See you next Friday!
IP Out Committee Member
Page published on 31st January 2020
Page last modified on
I didn't know that the first LGBT+ History Month was celebrated for the first time in 1994! Growing up, I was not aware of this until I was in secondary school. It is good that young kids are now aware of this, so they can understand what its all about and be comfortable speaking about it and/or being a part of it.