February is the month of love, and everyone celebrates in their own unique way.
Some people fly to Paris… some go sightseeing in Glasgow… some stay at home to spend quality time with their families… some eat a lot of sweet chocolates… and some enjoy inhaling the fresh scent of beautiful red roses.
But aside from magnifying romance on Valentine’s Day, this month of love gives us an opportunity to celebrate diversity, equality, and inclusivity. After all, February is also the LGBTQ+ History Month in the UK.
What is LGBTQ+ History Month?
Schools OUT UK (an LGBTQ+ education charity) launched the first event to celebrate LGBTQ+ History Month in February 2005.
It was created in the wake of the abolition of Section 28, which stated that local authorities “shall not intentionally promote homosexuality or publish material with the intention of promoting homosexuality.”
This event has a simple and clear objective – to help increase the visibility and appreciation for everyone in the LGBTQ+ community, and to help others understand and empathise with every person’s lived experience.
Because, let’s face it, many (if not all) members of the LGBTQ+ community have experienced various kinds of discrimination. Some are frequently bullied or even cast out from their family, friends, and loved ones.
In fact, 32% of gay men and 26% of lesbians mentioned that their greatest concern is discrimination due to their sexual orientation according to a MetLife study about LGBT Baby Boomers. And 33% of all the respondents said that discrimination is a major fear in their lives.
But the LGBTQ+ History Month aims to eliminate (or at least lessen) these fears by raising awareness about stories of LGBTQ+ people, highlighting a different theme each year, and educating others about LGBTQ+ history and culture.
Why celebrate LGBTQ+ History Month?
Celebrating LGBTQ+ History Month means that we embrace love in all its forms, we recognise the importance of the LGBTQ+ community, and we acknowledge the achievements and courage of the people who came before us.
Failing to do this would be depriving the next generations of the education and enlightenment they can get from us.
This month also allows us to reflect on how we can help create a safer space where everyone can thrive — no matter how they identify — and alleviate the unnecessary struggles that LGBTQ+ people face in their day-to-day lives.
For this purpose, February gives us a perfect chance to highlight the history and legacy that inspires us to learn, become better, and contribute to the progress towards diversity and equality.
Isn’t that the best way to celebrate love?
Because not only do we help people own their rights, but we also open doors that can enhance their lives and support them in achieving their dreams.
And this is especially true as we celebrate prominent individuals who represent this year’s LGBTQ+ History Month theme: “Politics in Art: The Arc is Long.”
The Five Faces for Politics in Art
This year’s History Month is all about political artists. We venture on learning what political art can tell us about the artist, what it can tell us about the time they lived in, and what art can teach us about LGBTQ+ history.
The Schools OUT UK picked five icons to represent the theme of politics in art:
- Doris Brabham-Hatt (1890 – 1969)
Doris fought for women’s right to vote. And even though there weren’t many people who were out in her time, she didn’t mind that people knew she was a lesbian.
- Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960 – 1988)
Jean-Michel was a bisexual and Black painter. In his art, he often referenced his heritage and history. The key themes in his work were identity and oppression.
- Fiore de Henriquez (1921 – 2004)
If Fiore were born today, Sarah Cosgriff from Schools OUT UK said that Fiore would likely be described as intersex.
Fiore was an Italian sculptor who migrated to Britain, and her art often featured androgyny as a common theme.
- Keith Haring (1958 – 1990)
Keith was a gay American pop artist, and he used his art to advocate for safe sex and AIDS awareness.
- Mark Aguhar (1987 – 2012)
Mark was a trans feminine performance artist, writer, and activist. She often critiqued beauty standards, and she focused on advocating body positivity, queer expression, and having multiple identities.
Something that we can learn from Mark is her belief that self-care can be a form of resistance, and we can make it a part of our everyday lives.
Those are just the highlights of these iconic individuals. We all benefit by sharing their diverse stories and learning from their powerful legacies as we celebrate them this February.
Want to get involved today?
If you want to take part in the national celebration of LGBTQ+ History Month and contribute to creating a beautiful legacy of love for the next generation, you might be interested in getting involved through these sites:
But if not, simply fostering a safe space that offers love for everyone and promotes equality, inclusivity, and diversity is a very meaningful way to celebrate love this LGBTQ+ History Month.
If you are not yet familiar with the terminologies of the LGBTQ+ community, today is the best day to start learning – even just the basics.
Because when you take the time to become familiar with these terms, you’re also contributing to the progress of fostering equality for everyone.
So, here’s a quick guide to get you started:
If you would like to learn more about these terminologies, you may want to read these helpful resources:
Did you enjoy this article? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!
Want to enjoy more on this topic? We are delighted to welcome the captivating Simon Whitehouse to lead a virtual tour of London on Monday 14th February at 10am, exploring the fascinating queer heritage of the city. Click here to find out more and book your place now!