February 2005 saw the first LGBT History Month celebrated in the United Kingdom. The month is a chance for LGBT people to showcase all aspects of the diverse LGBT community to the wider population. It can be used as a time to study LGBT history and literature, while also celebrating the contributions of gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans people to world history and current events. It can also act as a lever for wider cultural change.
In other countries LGBT History Month was a great success and the first month in Britain was no different. According to Schools OUT, over 100 events were organised nationally, including theatre, film, lecture, discussion, readings by authors, museum and gallery visits, original art exhibitions, archive exhibitions, training and awareness-raising sessions.
LGBT History Month was initiated by Schools OUT, and is supported by the Department for Education and Skills. Their vision was that it would be an organic grass roots collection of events throughout the month of February. Events are not run or planned centrally, but are hosted by LGBT groups and organisation throughout the United Kingdom.
Why should we have an LGBT History Month?
With Section 28 consigned to the history books in 2003, this is the ideal opportunity to get together as a community and repair the huge amount of damage it caused. Section 28 created a culture of fear in state schools, turning LGBT matters into a taboo.
As Sir Ian McKellen says: “The notorious Section 28 was a disaster for children in state schools because it encouraged their teachers to lie about homosexuality.”
By learning the mistakes of our past, we can ensure that they are never made again. LGBT History Month is a chance to inform society of our past victories and struggles, who we were, and who we have become.
What events can we run?
LGBT people, literature, films and events can all be a basis for your events. Some suggestions include:
- Author readings – invite an LGBT author to read from their work
- Invite a speaker to your LGBT Society to talk about LGBT History
- Have a fancy dress party (dress up as a historical LGBT person)
- Hold a quiz on LGBT history
- Organise a debate
- Hold a film night
How do I publicise my event?
The LGBT History Month website offers a facility for individual groups to advertise their events, and to find out about other events across the UK. You could open your event up to the general public or fellow students across the university or region.
If you would like NUS to advertise your event, please send details to firstname.lastname@example.org and we can email it to all our contacts in the LGBT student movement.
Other ideas for publicising your event:
- Write an article for your student newspaper
- Post on your Union website
- Contact the local press & LGBT Press (write a press release)
- Put up posters around your campus
- Hold an LGBT History Stall in a thoroughfare
- Run a website with an LGBT timeline and include local dates like the year your union elected its first LGBT officer
- Remember that you are free to use the LGBT History Month logo which can be downloaded from the website at www.lgbthistorymonth.org.uk
Visit www.lgbthistorymonth.org.uk for more information on all aspects of LGBT History Month.