I’m 9 years old and I’m in my school hall on a Tuesday afternoon. It’s our very first sex education lesson. We’ve just watched a video and now the guest speaker is taking questions.
‘How would two men have sex?’ asks my friend Sean.
There’s a moment of silence and secret glances.
‘You’ll have to come back and ask me at the end of the school day,’ says the guest.
This is my memory of Section 28 in action, a clause in the Local Government Act 1988 that made it illegal for schools to ‘promote homosexuality’. I’m part of a generation of students whose questions about their own identities were treated with stigma and suspicion, as teachers feared they could lose their job.
Section 28 was abolished in 2003, and two years later the first LGBT History Month took place in UK schools. Now the silence has been replaced with celebration of LGBTQ people, in our workplaces and communities as much as our schools.
So this year for LGBTQ History Month, I’ve made a daily calendar to help anyone discover new-to-you people, new stories and new histories. LGBTQ people and culture has always been there in history, we just haven’t heard about it in our schools or our media.
Perhaps your LGBTQ knowledge goes no further than Ru Paul’s Drag Race. Or perhaps like me it’s your identity and your job in one. Whatever your starting point, I hope the simple daily actions give you a chance to go further.
Don’t use it as a daily reminder of what you already know. Use it as a daily opportunity to learn more, so you can do more to support LGBTQ people.
I’ll be blogging everyday with some ideas if you don’t know where to start, and to let you know what I’m learning this month too. And I’ve answered some questions below too. Just ask me if you have anymore.
Happy LGBTQ History Month!
Can I share this calendar?
Absolutely! There’s also a text list of the calendar below or I can email you a version which may be more accessible for you to share with your friends, family and colleagues. Please just credit me where appropriate.
How do I get involved?
As well as sharing the calendar, you can comment on the blog posts and tweet about what you’re learning or doing throughout the month. The hashtag to use and search is #LGBTQCalendar
I’ve missed a day! Do I need to do two actions the next day?
No! This isn’t homework or a challenge you need to complete. It’s a resource you can use and adapt. You can dip in and out of the calendar as you want. I created it because I was inspired by the cute daily calendars from Action for Happiness. Every time I’ve started one, I’ve missed days or stopped doing it halfway through the month.
What does LGBTQ mean? I thought it was LGBT?
LGBT is an acronym, short for lesbian, gay, bi and trans. Q is short for queer. This is sadly still used by a minority as an offensive term to attack others. But it’s also used a positive term of some people’s identity, and as a collective noun to describe the LGBTQ community.
I use LGBTQ here because I have friends who identify as queer. I also use it as a collective noun that includes intersex people, asexual people and other marginalized identities that LGBT doesn’t cover. It’s important that these identities are represented and acknowledged.
Some people use LGBTQIA or other acronyms, which more explicitly includes intersex or asexual people than LGBTQ. There’s no one right or wrong acronym. I believe our language has to include everyone and that’s a balance. I want to include everyone’s identity while being accessible and understandable. The longer an acronym, usually the harder it is for some people (for different reasons) to understand. That’s why I use LGBTQ.
There’s so much more to learn around labels and language. Just make sure you’re respectful of how people identify themselves, and you’re inclusive in the language you use. This episode of Queer Britain is a good starting point.
The LGBTQ History Month Calendar
- Tell someone why LGBTQ History Month matters to you
- Learn three facts about the Stonewall riots
- Watch an LGBTQ film, TV show or video
- Find out what the colours in the rainbow flag represent
- Listen to an LGBTQ podcast or radio show
- Find out about important laws for LGBTQ people in the UK
- Learn about a lesbian role model
- Find out who designed the bi flag
- Appreciate art by an LGBTQ artist
- Learn about a bi role model
- Listen to music by an LGBTQ music act
- Find out about LGBTQ rights in a different country
- Learn about an LGBTQ BAME/PoC role model
- Find out how many stripes are in the trans flag
- Learn about a trans role model
- Visit an LGBTQ venue or history site
- Talk or listen to an LGBTQ person from a different generation
- Learn about a non-binary role model
- Find out when the asexuality flag was designed
- Learn about a disabled LGBTQ role model
- Find an LGBTQ group in your area
- Learn about an intersex role model
- Read an LGBTQ book, poem or article
- Thank an LGBTQ role model
- Learn about a health or wellbeing issue affecting LGBTQ people
- Support an LGBTQ charity or group
- Be a visible LGBTQ role model or ally today
- Commit to one action where you study, work or live
- Tell someone what you’ve learnt and enjoyed this month