What is LGBTQ+ History Month?
First launched in the UK in 2005, LGBT+ History Month is an annual celebration promoting the education of LGBTQ+ issues and the history of the gay rights movement. The month aims to encourage a safer, more inclusive society where the diverse spectrum of sexuality and gender is accepted and discussed openly.
Schools OUT, an organisation aiming to make schools safe and inclusive for LGBTQ+ students, brought about the first LGBTQ+ History Month in the UK, sparking over 150 events across the country in its first year.
This year’s theme is Body, Mind and Spirit. There are many ways you can get involved this year, including OUTing the Past presentations, LGBTQ+ curriculum lesson plans, taking a look at interesting resources and much more.
What does it mean to identify as LGBTQ+?
We asked members of the college LGBTQ+ Society what it meant to them.
“To me, identifying as LGBTQ+ means having comfort knowing that even if you don’t have anyone close who supports you, there’s always a community, a family, behind you ready to support you 100%. It means having a place to belong even if you don’t feel like you’re worthy of taking up the space you exist in.”
“Being LGBTQ+ is standing out and being different from other people, being true to yourself and being who you truly are for yourself and not others.”
“It feels like a relief that I’m not the only one who is different. It feels nice when I find someone who is the same as me, as we can help each other because we both know how hard it is to struggle with our sexuality. It feels good having people to talk to about this type of subject, as not everyone understands how you feel.”
“Being LGBTQ+ to me means that I’m free to be who I am no matter what and I’m surrounded by people who are like me and accept me.”
LGBTQ+ triumphs in history
Over the past years, there has been significant progress in recognising the rights of LGBTQ+ people. However, it’s important to take time to reflect on this and how it happened.
The Beaumont Society was founded, providing information to the general public, medical and legal professions on ‘transvestism’ and promoted research aimed at a further understanding. The word ‘transvestism’ is no longer used and the current terminology for this is now ‘trans’.
This society is now the UK’s largest and longest running support group for transgender people and their families.
This year marks an important milestone in LGBTQ+ history, as the government implements recommendations from the Wolfenden Report for the Sexual Offences Act 1967, which partially legalised same-sex acts in the UK between men over the age of 21 conducted in private.
Although an important breakthrough towards equality, there was still a long way to go.
The UK Gay Liberation Front (GLF) was set up following the Stonewall Riots in New York over the treatment of the LGBTQ+ community by police. Marsha P. Johnson, a black trans-activist, is a key inspirational figure in LGBTQ+ history, as she sparked a series of protests across the world following the Stonewall incident.
The GLF campaigned for rights of LGBTQ+ people, encouraging them to question the mainstream institutions in society which led to their oppression.
Often protesting in solidarity with other oppressed groups, the GLF launched the very first Pride march in 1972. Pride is now a hugely successful yearly event which is incredibly important for raising awareness of LGBTQ+ and acts as a symbol for oppressed people around the globe.
Although the GLF disbanded, this made way for the Campaign for Homosexual Equality; a Manchester-based organisation leading the fight for equality by legal reform.
The Section 28 of the Local Government Act 1988 was repealed, meaning students were now able to learn about homosexuality and LGBTQ+ history and rights, with the aim to create a more inclusive environment.
The Civil Partnership Act was introduced, allowing same-sex couples to legally enter into binding partnerships.
During this year, the Gender Recognition Act was brought in which gave trans people full legal recognition of their gender, providing them with a new birth certificate.
LGBTQ+ employees were protected from discrimination, harrassment and victimisation at work through the Equality Act.
This also brought together existing legislation and added protection for trans workers.
This year marked a significant benchmark in LGBTQ+ history, with the Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Act allowing same-sex couples in England and Wales to marry. Scotland shortly followed suit with the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act in 2014.
It’s clear to see the progress that has been made over the last half century, but there is still much more to do for equality and social acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community.
The LGBTQ+ community are still not treated equally in the UK and face oppression around the world. This month is particularly important in helping to fight for these rights and raise awareness.
We can learn from the lessons from our past history and use them to address the issues we still face in today’s society.
Celebrating at college
This year, we will be celebrating LGBTQ+ History Month digitally! Take a look at our list of exciting events and resources across the Luminate Education Group here.
Take part in our Pride Rainbow Quiz here.
See how to join in on our LGBTQ+ competition here.
Look at the Harrogate College Student Life Google Classroom to see how you can get involved in activities
If you are struggling with mental health or just want to chat, there is plenty of support available.
As a student at Harrogate College, you have access to the Leeds City College LGBTQ+ Society, which provides a safe space for those who identify as LGBTQ+ to be fully themselves without fear of judgement, criticism or discrimination. The society also welcomes straight allies who are encouraged to attend events.
If you’d like to get involved, visit the page here to see what’s going on.
The foundation provides a helpline staffed by a team of dedicated staff and volunteer operators who have extensive training.
Find information on coming out, health, and LGBTQ+ community groups near you.
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Queer mental health service.
Support for transgender, nonbinary and gender-diverse children, young people and their families.
Access a number of resources by and for trans young people and gender questioning young people in the UK and beyond.
Harrogate-based group which offers support and advice to young LGBTQ+ people (aged 13-25).
If you’re interested in finding out more about the LGBTQ+ terminology and definitions, take a look at the Stonewall glossary here.