LGBT stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. Sadly, for some, this is a subject that is still taboo. But as history continues to unfold, times change and so too, do attitudes.
Homosexuality was partially decriminalised in 1967; the first generation to have lived their whole adult lives since are now reaching their later years. 19 years ago the UK Government lifted the ban on lesbians, gay men and bi people serving in the Armed Forces. 15 years ago, the first LGBT History Month was launched.
February 2019 marks the 15th LGBT History Month, which aims to promote equality and diversity and celebrate LGBT history through a series of events throughout February each year. The focus for this year is “Peace, Reconciliation and Activism”.
Sue Sanders, chair of Schools OUT, the charity that launched LGBT History Month, shares some of the highlights for this year’s festival:
‘I am so excited that from little seeds, big trees grow. Back in 2005 when it started, LGBT History Month had 100 events on the calendar; last year we had over 1,500. So for 2019 I am hoping for even more.
‘The LGBT History Month website is now heaving with free resources, including information on LGBT history, posters and of course, our LGBT faces linked to the themes; faces introducing you to a mixture of well-known and hidden LGBT pioneers. The four faces of 2019 are Mariella Franco, Magnus Hirschfield, Robert Graves and Marsha P. Johnson.
‘Back in 2015 at the inaugural OUTing the Past Festival, we had a couple of popular presentation days at the People’s History Museum and Central Library in Manchester, alongside a small academic conference. In five years, we have grown to an international event, with 18 Festival Hub Partners across the UK, Ireland, Norway, Sweden and New York. This year we had over 100 offers for presentations and, as a result, our venues are rich with a variety of events.
‘Across the 18 venues that will be shining a light on gems of history this February, features, to mention but a few, will include LGBT and sport, some fascinating lesbian stories, the inspirational histories of Anne Lister, Frances Power Cobbe, Mary Charlotte Lloyd and Mary McIntosh as well as exploring political and social organisations like Switchboard, Stonewall and Schools OUT UK. In short, there is something for almost everyone.
Ignorance and knowledge
‘As I grew up in the fifties, I knew nothing about the amazing people that make up our communities and how they contributed to our lives through poetry, drama, science, theatre, design, music, politics and so much more. We want the knowledge that OUTing the past is gathering to be made available to all. Through the festival, our website and with our many accessible resources, we are continuing to usualise LGBT lives and experience for all ages.
‘All this is made possible by the phenomenal energy of the Schools OUT UK team, each member an unpaid volunteer, passionate about getting our history and stories out to the world.’
For the complete list of all the presentations at all the 18 venues this February, visit: www.outingthepast.org.uk. To discover the programme of the international gathering of academics and activists see www.outingthepast.com
To find out more about LGBT History Month, visit: www.lgbthistorymonth.org.uk