Sunday, September 1, 2013

September 1, 2013

I feel a little foolish, Poppets. October is LGBT(Q) History Month here in the U.S. – has been since 1994 – and I had no idea. I knew National Coming Out Day was October 11th, but the whole month being dedicated to our history? No clue. For those of you who knew this already, feel free to skip this article altogether. But for those of you who didn’t know, here’s what I’ve learned…
In 1994, Missouri high school teacher, Rodney Wilson, had the idea that our community should have its own history month. He was able to garner support from local community leaders and organizations and the idea spread. Soon, it was recognized by national organizations including GLAAD and the National Education Association. By 2006, Equality Forum had taken over responsibility for developing content, raising awareness, and spreading our history. All thanks to a high school teacher from Missouri.
Every October, Equality Forum chooses thirty-one leaders – icons – from the LGBTQ community and focuses on their contributions, both to us, and to the world at large. Every day of the month, a new biography is highlighted. It’s an opportunity for people to learn about leaders, role models, and contributors who, yes, also happen to be gay/lesbian/transgendered/bisexual/queer. The focus is on their achievements. How they have made the world a better, safer, more interesting place. As with Black History Month (February) and Women’s History Month (March) it teaches people, who might not otherwise realize, that things we enjoy, value, even take for granted, were brought to us by members of the LGBTQ community. It reminds people we are human beings with strengths and talents and gifts, just like straight people. It reminds people we matter. Just like straight people.
I’m giving you a month, Poppets. Let’s think about how we can celebrate our achievements. The website has this year’s list of icons. It also offers some suggestions for ways to acknowledge the month.
And allow me to make a suggestion of my own – social media. Almost all of us have a Facebook page, a twitter account, a tumblr/blogger/reddit username. Let’s use them! Get the word out. Link back to the website. Write your own posts. Highlight the icons. All the biographies and images of the icons on the website are free for reprint, republication, and dissemination. They’ve made it easy for us; let’s thank them, and the people being honored, by boosting the signal.
Finally, in preparation of next year, you can even nominate an icon to be honored in 2014. Check out the website. Throw a party. Write a post. Attend a lecture. Hell, this may be the one time I can get behind changing a Facebook avatar! You’ll find all kinds of ideas here:
The most important thing, though, is for us to learn our history. To be reminded. It’s easy to get beaten down. To begin to believe the vitriol. To start to think we really are less-than. But every year, here are thirty-one people who refuse to be less-than, or to live in a less-than world. Embrace them. Remember.

Until next month – our month - Poppets, take care of you.

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