LGBT+ History Month
Today marks the beginning of LGBT+ History Month. The first LGBT History Month in the US in October 1994. LGBT History Month UK was initiated by Schools OUT, who have been fighting for LGBT+ equality in education for 32 years, in February 2005. Both were based on the creation of the highly successful Black History Month which first occurred in the UK in October 1987 (Black History Month USA takes place in February). to celebrate the LGBT+ community, the amazing highs and the catastrophic lows that have rippled through society, locally and globally. Members of the LGBT+ community were forced to hide its identity through fear for their own safety, and the community's heroes and accomplishments have been ignored or erased. This month exists to undo the years of systematic and institutional oppression from governments and regimes.
Every year the LGBT+ History Month charity sets a theme, this year we are celebrating Geography. We look to LGBT+ communities around the world and how they are each affected by social and political changes, globally and locally. For example, while in the UK the government recently pardoned and apologised to men who had been convicted for now abolished and outdated laws, in 72 countries, being LGBTQ+ is still criminalised and in 8 countries, is punishable by death. Some people ask why LGBT+ people need to celebrate the season of pride and history month This is why: those who are privileged enough to be able to speak openly about their identity have to stand out and speak out for those who can’t, for those whose regimes are discriminatory and perpetuate the oppression of LGBT+ people.
It’s important to think about LGBT+ communities on an international scale. Recently it was released that the UK had rejected thousands of asylum-seeking applicants who identified as LGBTQ+, coming from countries that have no protection for individuals, countries which are rife with violence, who imprison and sentence LGBT+ people to death, because they ‘couldn’t prove it’. To be exact, 84 applicants from Iran had applied for asylum in the last two years because in their home country homosexuality is punishable by death. All of these applications to the UK government for asylum were rejected. Even in countries that have some laws protecting gay and bisexual people, trans people are still at enormous risk;, for example, in the US in 2016 there were 23 tracked cases of fatal violence towards trans people, in 2017 this rose to 28 and as HRC highlights;
“fatal violence disproportionately affects transgender women of color, and...the intersections of racism, sexism, homophobia and transphobia conspire to deprive them of employment, housing, healthcare and other necessities, barriers that make them vulnerable.”
Out of the approximate 2 million homeless youths in the US, it’s estimated that 40% of them are LGBT+ and have become estranged directly because of their identities, all of which referenced either family rejection driving them out of their home or being kicked out.
While we look at these statistics, we have to remember that for LGBTQ+ people of colour and LGBTQ+ disabled people and specifically trans people also, these negative experiences are multiplied and that the work to bridge the gaps for those groups still have a way to come. It’s through institutions like LGBT+ History Month that we need to use our collective power to advance progress for all.
While the community has come a long way, it still has so far to go. UCASU is proud to stand with its LGBTQ+ community and support our LGBTQ+ students, staff and Liberation groups. We invite you to celebrate this month with us whether you identify or not, and look out for the events and activities going on throughout the month, hosted by our societies and liberation groups.
CBS News: Gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender survey finds nearly 4 in 10 rejected by family or friend -
Covenant House: Teen Homelessness Statistics -
LGBT History Month: Schools Out -
Huffington Post: Why Do Parents Reject Their LGBTQ Children? -
Human Rights Campaign: Violence Against the Transgender Community in 2017 -
PinkNews: The UK has rejected thousands of gay asylum seekers -
Image from: https://www.walthamforest.gov.uk/content/lgbt-history-month-arts-commission