Image is from avlxyz from Flickr and is Creative Commons licensed for commercial use (see here: http://creativecommons.org/about)
The Breathing Ghosts has been published deliberately to coincide with LGBT History Month this February. For those not in the know of all things homo, (or just setting out on the path of gay enlightenment!) LGBT History Month is exactly what it says on the tin, and so much, much more. It is a month long celebration of LGBT history, presence and culture, and is held in February to mark the abolition of the dreadful Section 28 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Section_28) in 2003.
LGBT History Month originated in America, the birthplace of famous lesbian and gay frontrunners Allen Ginsberg, Adrienne Rich, Angela Davis, Jodie Foster, and Zac Posen- to name but a few- and has been up and running since 1994. It was founded by a high-school history teacher named Rodney Wilson, and is held in October in the USA to coincide with National Coming Out Day. (Yep, there is such a thing, and it’s on October 11th.)
On home shores, LGBT History Month is intended to raise awareness of issues affecting LGBT people and stand against homophobia, prejudice and latent heterosexism. It is also celebrated in Scotland, and holds a range of dynamic, inspiring and original events across the whole of February. For example:
- Want to see cool portraits of LGBT black activists?
- A photographic exhibition on the modern lesbian?
- A display of scintillating Sapphist writing?
- Attend a pride-themed pop-up shop in Bristol?
- Go to a tribute on Marlene Dietrich?
- Go on a tour of Soho (a tour that stretches beyond G-A-Y and Candy Bar!)
- Or maybe see a documentary film on gay marriage?
- Watch the film Priscilla, Queen of the Desert?
- Stitch and embroider mini protest banners to celebrate LGBT History Month?
- Go to an all-faiths-welcome vigil against homophobia? …
…There are so many wonderful things to do, I could be here all night composing a list of some of the brightest, boldest and gayest things to do in the capital and the UK. However, I don’t need to, it’s all here at http://lgbthistorymonth.org.uk/event-calendar/, and there truly is something for everyone, whether you’re proudly lesbian, openly gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, butch/femme, queer, intersex, questioning, unsure, curious or simply interested in knowing more and meeting new people. There’s social events where you can mingle with kindred souls, film screenings, discussions, lectures, tours, workshops, exhibitions, club nights and cabaret evenings…and on, and on and on.
Yet, with all these fun and exciting events, it’s sometimes easy to forget that a real important, serious message lies behind the Month. LGBT History Month isn’t just about having fun, it’s also about empowering LGBT people and spreading the message far and wide that it’s okay to be different, and okay to be yourself. LGBT people come from all races and walks of life, some are on the scene, some are not, some are openly homosexual, some are not (yet), but this Month is for all of them- for all of you.
At its core is very strong and passionate politics, for LGBT people are still not yet free from persecution and victimization. Despite significant positive milestones (equal marriage, human rights legislation, the abolition of Section 28, the creation of strong LGBT communities and sexual health clinics) we still have a long way to go. For instance, in Uganda an anti-homosexuality bill has come into force. The Metro Centre has also reported that a staggering 1 in 4 LGBT young people are assaulted (see http://lgbthistorymonth.org.uk/featured-right/1-in-4-lgbt-young-people-assaulted/.) Self-abuse and depression are also more common in young LBGT people, and hate crime is still alarmingly prevalent. (LGBT History Month has been keen to tackle these issues head-on, and promotes vigils against hate crime across the UK: see this article from last year: http://lgbthistorymonth.org.uk/uncategorized/hate-crime-awareness-week-ends-with-vigil-in-trafalgar-square/)
LGBT History Month is a time to celebrate, to congratulate and to raise awareness of how far we have come. It’s a time to have our (rainbow) cake and eat it, too. But it also a time to remember the formidable legacy that LGBT campaigners and activists have passed on, and to try and think of ways in which their fight for equality, justice, and the freedom to love whom they choose cannot-and will not- be forgotten.
- LGBT History Month UK 2013: http://lgbthistorymonth.org.uk/about/lgbt-history-month/
- About LGBT History Month (official webpage): http://lgbthistorymonth.org.uk/about/lgbt-history-month/
- LGBT History Month Scotland: http://www.lgbthistory.org.uk/
- School’s Out (campaigning for schools to be inclusive for young gay people) http://www.schools-out.org.uk/
- Stonewall: http://www.stonewall.org.uk/
- A lovely list of places flying the rainbow flag during LGBT History Month: http://lgbthistorymonth.org.uk/featured-left/flying-the-flag/
- LGBT History Month Poetry: original poetry from wonderful wunderkinder wordsmiths: http://lgbthistorymonth.org.uk/schools/lgbt-history-month-poetry/
- Famous gay and lesbian people throughout history: http://www.gayheroes.com/main.htm
And finally, just in case you really do want to have your cake and eat it, here’s a recipe for the scrummy rainbow-cake in the picture:
Enjoy- be safe, be happy, be proud, and enjoy LGBT History Month!