October is the month recognized as LGBTQ+ history month in the U.S. According to lgbthistorymonth.com, it all began back in 1994, when a Missouri high school teacher named Rodney Wilson believed that a whole month should be dedicated to teaching students about gay and lesbian history. Wilson gathered community leaders and other teachers who agreed, and together they declared that it should be October due to National Coming Out Day and other traditions already existing during that month. They decided that all 31 days of the month should each represent one LGBTQ+ icon to teach about, and every year there’s a different set. This year’s list of historical figures can be found here!
The month’s website also puts into perspective why it is so important, stating, “The LGBTQ+ community is the only community worldwide that is not taught its history at home, in public schools or in religious institutions. LGBTQ+ history month provides role models, builds community and makes the civil rights statement about our extraordinary national and international contributions.”
The celebration of LGBTQ+ history is vital to not only people who identify as such, but also to people who don’t. It’s not taught to any of us in the conventional way that most history is, but it is just as significant. LGBTQ+ history month is an essential reminder each year that people of all sexualities and identities are a part of the history that got our country to where it is today.
Events You Can’t Miss
There are a number of ways that you can get involved with LGBTQ+ history month on campus. Penn State has a wonderfully supportive, expansive network called the LGBTQA Student Resource Center who work together to set up informative and empowering events year-round, with activities focused during both October and Pride month in June. They kicked off this year’s history month with a HUB takeover on Oct. 1 and then all came together for a National Coming Out Day Rally at the Monumental Steps on Oct. 11. The Coming Out Rally is always a favorite each year, as it empowers people to freely be who they truly are.
International Pronouns Day is coming up on Wednesday, Oct. 17, which reminds everyone to recognize the pronouns that each individual would like to go by, and to remind everyone to respect them. Being referred to with an improper pronoun is particularly affecting to transgender and non-binary individuals, so this event provides a place for people to understand this and improve upon it.
Thursday, Oct. 18 is Spirit Day, which is an event focused on speaking out against the bullying and harassment that LGBTQ+ people face in our society. It is the largest, most well-known anti-bullying campaign in the world, and everyone is asked to wear the color purple to show that they stand against unfair treatment of LGBTQ+ persons.
The organizations also hold LGBTQ+ Center Awareness Day on Friday, Oct. 19, which is planned to help bring attention to all of the LGBTQ+ community centers around the country. In this way, individuals who identify as such know that wherever they go, they are never alone.
In addition, there are two speakers coming to the HUB this month to speak out about this history month. Ash Beckham will be at Freeman Auditorium on Tuesday, Oct. 16 with her “Give Voice to Your Truth” presentation, which focuses on empathy and respect within the LGBTQ+ community. On Monday, Oct. 22 in the Flex Theatre, Beck Gee-Cohen will give a speech about LGBTQ+ addiction recovery. He is a master’s level clinician with a degree in addiction counseling. He sheds light on the topic of substance abuse by LGBTQ+ individuals, and how to overcome it along with other struggles.
With all of these awesome events happening around campus, why not go out and join the party? Learn something about respecting yourself and others and try to take it with you beyond just the end of the month, because it’s necessary year-round to recognize the importance of all identities and sexualities.