LGBT+ History Month: The Launch

Posted 1 February 2021
LGBT+ Students' Rep, Beth, talks about the importance of celebrating LGBT History Month.
LGBT+ Students' Rep, Beth, talks about the importance of celebrating LGBT History Month.

What is LGBT+ history month?

LGBT+ History Month is a month-long celebration, focused on looking at LGBT history and the LGBT rights movement. In the UK, we first celebrated this month in February 2005, and although different countries celebrate it in different months of the year, we celebrate it in the month that coincides with the vote that led to Section 28 being repealed. There will be more about Section 28 in an upcoming blog post. However, the most important thing to know about it, is that it told schools they could not promote homosexuality, allow any content that allowed homosexuality or teach any acceptability of homosexuality. To have a month dedicated to learning gay history and teaching gay acceptance is a brilliant indicator of the progress we as a country have made in gay rights.

 

Why is it important to celebrate it?

As mentioned earlier, LGBT+ History Month is a time to look at LGBT+ history - something that has been erased and glossed over throughout history by countless people with the power to do so and it still happens now. If asked about LGBT+ people throughout history before the 20th century, there are two answers people would be most likely to get: William Shakespeare and Oscar Wilde. William Shakespeare is hard to ignore, and even then, many will still argue that he is not gay, despite many of his sonnets being written on the topic of a male lover. As for Oscar Wilde, he got sent to prison as a punishment for being gay and publicly humiliated, remaining bankrupt and in poor health from those experiences for the rest of his life. There are a few other figures that people may know but they are much more obscure, and the point still stands that for many, gay figures before the 1900s are not well known. This just makes more space for certain people to mock gay people and act as if it is a new fad. It is not just gay figures, it is gay activism, gay movements, what the LGBT+ community has fought for in the past and why we needed to fight for it.

LGBT+ History Month allows us the opportunity to learn and reclaim our past, making sure that it does not get forgotten. We remember what we have fought for and the people who died fighting for it, or those who died because those rights did not exist to begin with.

It is also a good way to remember all the things we still need to fight for, and that progress is not a straight line, especially when there are people actively fighting against what we need to gain. As with many civil rights movements, we are still pushing boulders uphill.

There are many issues we still have to tackle such as:
- Conversion therapy is still legal in the UK
- Homophobic hate crime has been on the rise for multiple years now (Figures taken from this BBC report)
- Transphobic hate crime has increased by 25% in a year (See this report from the BBC)
-Intersex babies are unnecessarily operated on at birth
- Self-Identification for trans people in the UK is still not allowed, despite over 70% of people involved in the government consultation on this topic being in favour of this. The path for someone to legally change their gender is still ridiculously long and difficult.
- Trans people under the age of 16 are now unable to take puberty blockers without specific authorisation of a court. This move will lead to unspeakable amounts of emotional distress and a rise in mental health issues for trans youth (As many people have already spoken out on including organisations such as Mermaids, Stonewall and Gender GP)

This is just to name a few.

Now is not the time to grow complacent, LGBT+ rights still are under threat and sadly it will continue to be that way for a long time. It is just as important to remember and celebrate our history and accomplishments (and there are still a lot of those to celebrate) as it is to look to the future during this month.

 

What are we doing to celebrate?

Although we cannot celebrate in the way that many of us would have expected or preferred, across Hull University Students’ Union we are still trying to make sure that there are ways for it to be celebrated.

- Even though not many people are currently present on campus, on Monday 1st Feb, the gay pride flag will be flown across the chemistry building and hopefully will stay there throughout the month.

- On Tuesday 9th Feb, there will be an LGBT+ Mental Health Open Forum looking at how the university mental health services could be improved for LGBT+ students. A survey prior to this on the same topic will also be released on Monday 1stFeb.

- Before the start of this month, a form passed around allowing LGBT+ students to post submissions or messages related to their experiences as a member of the LGBT+ community. These will start being posted throughout the month.

- On Tuesday 16th February we will have a virtual pride with the Student President Team and others talking about what being part of the LGBT+ community in leadership is like.

- Our sports teams and societies will be doing various things to celebrate the month, including continuing the rainbow laces movement and other things to do with being out in sport.

- There will be blog posts throughout the month on various important topics including: the rise of homophobia, LGBT+ rights movements 101 and section 28, remembering the people we have lost in the fight for equality (e.g., activists who died, AIDS crisis victims etc). Finally, as the last week of LGBT+ history month is also Aromantic Awareness Week, there will also be a blog post noting that.

 

 

 

Further reading:

About LGBT+ history month:
 https://lgbtplushistorymonth.co.uk/
 https://www.ucu.org.uk/lgbt+historymonth

 

More on the erasure of LGBT+ history:
http://rictornorton.co.uk/suppress.htm

 

Government scraps Self ID plans:
https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2020/jun/14/trans-rights-government-reported-to-be-dropping-gender-self-identifying-plans

 

 

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