LGBT History Month February 2021
By Ben Keane-Lyons
Rochdale, Heywood & Middleton Lib Dems Celebrate LGBT History Month
What does LGBT stand for? Lesbian, gay, bi and trans.
What is LGBT history month? It originally started in the USA as a way to celebrate the progress made on gay rights since the Stonewall Riots which began on 28th June 1969. This is seen was the birth of the modern LGBT rights movement. You can find out more about the Stonewall riots here.
Why is history month important to the LGBT community? Its a chance for the community to celebrate the progress made in the UK since partial decriminalisation of homosexuality in 1967 to the legalisation of Gay marriage in 2014.
All this wouldn't have been possible without LGBT allies who saw the discrimination against LGBT people and helped to champion change so LGBT people are treated the same as everyone else. LGBT people in Britain have never wanted more rights than non LGBT people. We simple want the same opportunities as everyone else, the right to: work, get married and walk down the street as a couple without receiving abuse, the same as everyone else.
While LGBT history month is a chance to reflect on past progress, some people ask why do we still celebrate? Or as one person said to me 'you've got gay marriage now isn't that it?'. I had to reply 'sadly, no', with LGBT related hate crime on the rise and many areas in Greater Manchester where holding hands with my partner will attract homophobic comments there is still work to be done. The law may have changed to give LGBT people hard won rights, but LGBT people are often still seen as being less than equal.
LGBT history month is a chance to celebrate the rights we've gained and promote acceptance of LGBT people. A big part of LGBT history month is education, fittingly, in the UK it was started by a group of gay teachers. They have produced materials for schools to teach about the existence of LGBT people. This is not about converting any child to be LGBT, at its heart it is about basic a acknowledgment that LGBT people exist and should be treated with the same respect others enjoy.
The month is a way to dispel many untruths that are told about LGBT people in the press. For those that might have a negative view of LGBT people you have the right to hold that view, but be aware the hurt you could be causing for others when you give voice to those views publically. I'm not against free speech but free speech isn't without consequences - words have weight. Often LGBT people are told an incidence of homophobia, biphobia or transphobia was 'banter', this wouldn't be acceptable if it was a racial comment. It is still discrimination based on who that person is. It is every bit as harmful.
History month is a chance to educate. LGBT related language isn't always easy to navigate and LGBT people are aware that not everyone will always get the terminology right, but we're keen to help people understand. So, why not join us and engage in the month. Listen to an LGBT Podcast, read information on the history month website or attend pride (COVID permitting) and help celebrate our diversity. We will only achieve full equality when LGBT allies (non-LGBT people) accept us for who we are.
More information on the history of LGBT rights in the UK can be found here
Terminology you might hear and would like to understand can be found here.
Your workplace may have an LGBT network, why not contact them and get involved. Many of them will hold educational events this month.