This February, the nation will be reflecting on the importance of LGBT+ history and the lasting impact of those who have fought for equal rights for those who identified as gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans, non-binary or however they wished to present.
It has been well documented throughout history how the LGBT+ community have had to scratch and claw to be heard. Whether that be through the Stonewall Riots or the Aids epidemic, there have been many times where LGBT+ people have been shunned.
But the nature of LGBT+ History Month is to look back on this moment and see how our LGBT+ communities have changed society today and the impact they’ve had on life now.
LGBT+ History Month was a concept which originated from a Missouri high school by teacher Rodney Wilson, who chose October due to the establishment of National Coming Out Day in the late 1980s.
In a previous interview Mr Wilson said: “LGBT history gave me self-confidence as a gay person and strengthened my resolve to live, as best I could, an honest, open and integrated life.” And it was this importance in spreading awareness of the battles that the LGBT+ community had faced which has led to LGBT+ people being recognised across the globe.
Here in the UK we choose to mark the occasion in February to coincide with the abolition of Section 28 which prohibited the “promotion of homosexuality”. This was abolished in 2003 and the organisation Schools OUT wanted to use this significant time in UK law to mark the UK’s own struggles when it has come to LGBT+ history.
The overall aims for LGBT+ History Month are to increase the visibility of LGBT+ people, their history and lived experiences.
There is also a big focus on working with businesses and educational facilities to create safe spaces for all LGBT+ people. And this is where the work we do at SARI comes into play. As well as supporting victims of hate crimes, we work on preventative programmes to give people wider understanding and awareness and to break down negative perceptions. In the past we have worked with partners in Off The Record Bristol, The Diversity Trust, 2BU, OTR BANES and others in delivering workshops and creating networks around LGBT+ issues. Now we are developing our own LGBT+ programme which will compliment the work of our partners to help further educate people around LGBT+ history and the struggles people who identify as LGBT+ still face.
This year’s theme for LGBT+ History Month is Behind The Lens, to celebrate LGBT+ peoples’ contribution to cinema and film from behind the lens.
Directors, cinematographers, screen writers, producers, animators, costume designers, special effects, make-up artists, lighting directors, musicians, choreographers and beyond. At a time when LGBT+ lives are in the media we also encourage you to look ‘Behind the Lens’ and listen to LGBT+ peoples’ lived experiences.
Here at SARI throughout this month we will be looking back at the impact LGBT+ history has had on our society, what has changed, and what challenges people still are confronted with on a daily basis.