Grace Crocker, Staff Writer
October is LGBT history month, which is not to be confused with LGBT pride month, occuring in June. Although both months are deemed to celebrate and acknowledge the LGBT community, October is the month where the focus is on the history and accomplishments that have brought the community to where it is today. It aligns with observed traditions that happen in October concerning the LGBT community.
LGBT history month began in 1994 when Missouri High School teacher Rodney Wilson thought there should be a month dedicated to the history of gays and lesbians. He gathered teachers and community members together to make it happen. October was selected because many LGBT related traditions, such as Coming Out Day on Oct. 11 and the anniversary of the first march on Washington on Oct. 14 also occurred in the same month. More recently, Spirit Day was also established in October 2010 in response to high suicide rates of LGBT youth.
LGBT History Month is largely supported by the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), the Human Rights Campaign, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, the National Education Association, and other national organizations. The goal is to raise awareness about bullying of LGBT youth, commemorate and highlight role models from the community, and shine light on the historical events that occurred concerning LGBT people.
The Gender-Sexuality Alliance (GSA) club on campus has decided to host a week of events in honor of LGBT history month. The week of Oct. 20 featured several activities hosted by the GSA that everyone is welcome to. Activities included movie nights, where films such as “Paris is Burning” were shown on Oct. 25, and “Rocky Horror Picture Show” will be played on Nov. 1. Additionally, zine workshops hosted by Vice President Julian Rocha will also take place, as well as a “museum walk” where anyone will be able to walk through the hallway in Harned Hall where posters will be displayed. Information on these posters will vary, but will generally include information on LGBT history, including events and people. These posters will be in the hallways all week. Food will be provided for several of these events.
I interviewed the president of GSA Club, Ryan Patterson, who had several comments about the importance of LGBT history month as well as the importance of the GSA club on campus.
“GSA stands for Gender and Sexuality Alliance, not Gay and Straight Alliance,” he said in response to my question about what the club stands for.
“We’ve gone through a name change in order to be more inclusive to our community; ‘Gay’ doesn’t encompass our whole community. In addition to the name change, the GSA has re-calibrated itself to be more centered on the needs and desires of our members. As such, events will be created by and for our members.”
Patterson continued with a brief summary of a TED talk he enjoyed that showcases the importance of the club and LGBT history month.
“As queer individuals, we often come into this world without being exposed to our culture and community. Many of us are isolated and alone, and we often don’t find others like ourselves to learn from. Similarly, we don’t learn about queer culture in our lower-level schooling, and most parents won’t know anything or enough about the queer culture to educate us. This places a huge importance on internal education for ourselves and the queer community at large. The GSA aims to provide a space and events centered around learning more about ourselves, and our events will reflect either community building or this same education. This History Week of events will give us and others more insight into the rich culture that is the queer community.”
All members of the GSA executive board encourage anyone and everyone to come to these events in order to celebrate LGBT history month and learn a little bit about the people and events who have made strides in progress for the community.