Your Quick Guide to LGBTQ+ History Month

It’s February, which means… Happy LGBTQ+ History Month!! Here’s just a quick guide to what this month is all about and why we celebrate it, hopefully answering some of your questions along the way!

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It’s February, which means… Happy LGBTQ+ History Month!! Here’s just a quick guide to what this month is all about and why we celebrate it, hopefully answering some of your questions along the way!

So, what exactly is LGBTQ+ History Month? Well, it’s exactly how it sounds – a month to celebrate and reflect on LGBTQ+ history! The reason we celebrate this month in February is due to the repeal of the infamous Section 28 (or Clause 28) of the Local Governments Act 1988, which prohibited “intentionally promoting homosexuality or publishing material with the intention of promoting homosexuality” and “promoting the teaching in any maintained school of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship”. This clause was amended and removed from the act in 2003, meaning schools were now allowed to start raising awareness and remembrance of queer history. The charity Schools OUT UK founded this awareness month in 2004 with the first February celebrated in 2005.

But how is it any different to Pride Month in June? Pride Month celebrates the diversity of the LGBTQ+ community and aims to raise awareness and acceptance of all members, whereas LGBTQ+ History Month is used to highlight the lives of queer people and events throughout history and remember their stories. Whilst both months could be used to achieve the same goals, the focus of each differ slightly which is why we celebrate both.

Are there any people I need to learn about this month? There are countless individuals throughout all of history that we can honour this month, so we urge you to do your own research into anyone’s story you find interesting, as the more we can educate ourselves the better! But if you’re wanting a few facts on iconic figures in LGBTQ+ history, you might want to know:

  • Alan Turing – a pioneer in the world of computer science who helped defeat the Nazi’s during World War II by inventing the “Enigma machine”, which intercepted and decoded German military communications. Turing was a gay man, and when he was discovered and arrested for his sexuality, he tragically passed away in 1954.
  • Marsha P. Johnson – an iconic activist who was crucial during the Stonewall riots of 1969. She was a self-proclaimed drag queen who helped found many wonderful queer organisations such as the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (which supported homeless trans and queer youth in New York City) and the Gay Liberation Front (an advocacy and campaigning group). Many believe Johnson to be one of the most iconic transgender women in history, though she never defined herself as such since the term gained popularity after her tragic passing in 1992.
  • Roberta Cowell - a fighter pilot and competitive race-car driver who became the first transgender woman to undergo gender reassignment surgery in the UK. She lived a long but reclusive lifestyle, passing away at age 93 in 2011.
  • Mike Jackson and Mark Ashton – founders of the campaign group “Lesbian’s and Gays Support the Miners” (LGSM). They created this group in 1984 to help raise awareness, support, and funds for everyone who was affected by the miner’s strike during the 1980’s.

Queer historical figures are not just limited to the 20th and 21st century however – Anne Lister, Sappho, Oscar Wilde and Chevalier d'Eon are but a few LGBTQ+ icons that show how prevalent queer history always has and always will be.

How can I celebrate LGBTQ+ History Month? One thing you can do is look into queer history. As we’ve said before, the depth of queer history is immense, and we are always learning more as a society. Researching into the areas of LGBTQ+ history that interest you can be a great way to engage with the community and grow your understanding of the trials and triumphs experienced by so many through the years. There is lots of media around LGBTQ+ history to watch this month – “Pride” (2014), “The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson” (2017), “It’s A Sin” (2021) to recommend a few. More LGBTQ+ film recommendations can be found here. The theme for 2024’s LGBTQ+ History Month is “Medicine Under The Scope”, which will be looking into the contributions that LGBTQ+ people made in STEM, medical science, the NHS, and looking into the history of events like the AIDS crisis and the development of transgender medical care. More information on this year's theme for LGBTQ+ History Month can be found here.

We hope this has answered some of your questions about LGBTQ+ History Month, and remember – all genders, sexualities and LGBTQ+ identities are valid and should be respected and honoured always. Happy LGBTQ+ History Month Everyone!! ❤🏳‍🌈