How Gay History Month is celebrated in America
Posted by mandyf on October 13, 2012
October first kicks off Gay History Month in America although it is something few people ever notice or confuse with Gay History Month in the U.K. which is celebrated in February. There are many activities that are carried out each October which go far beyond simply discussing gay rights as they currently stand. It is a time the achievements of LGBT persons are recognized, the rich and often overlooked contributions of gay and transgender persons throughout American history are discussed, and their is also plenty of social networking as well, after-all it is as much a month of celebration as it is a month of memorial and learning. Something else many people don’t realize is that Gay History Month (Or LGBT History Month as it is officially known now) originated right here in the United States!
To appreciate the celebration of the month it is good to first learn a little about it’s history. The first LGBT History Month occurred in 1994 as the brain child of a Missouri high school history teacher named Rodney Wilson. Mr. Wilson felt the contributions of the LGBT community in America both past and present were all too often overlooked, downplayed, or marginalized. As such there weren’t many gay role models for gay youth to look towards aside from out of the closet celebrities which aren’t always who we want kids to pattern themselves after. Gay History Month was a major part of the solution to providing people of all sexual orientations an opportunity to appreciate people they may otherwise have never heard about that helped shape the country in a variety of different ways.
For such a huge undertaking he wasn’t alone as supporters from all areas and backgrounds threw their support behind the project. Most notably the major players that got things moving were Kevin Jennings, Kevin Boyer, Johnda Boyce, Paul Varnell, and Torey Wilson. October was chosen as Gay History Month to coincide with National Coming Out Day which is on October 11, as well as the first LGBT march on Washington in 1979.
The most common ways gay History Month is celebrated in the U.S, is thinking along the terms of a very scaled down Pride month. There are no parades, no huge parties that run the course of weekend, but rather a large variety of small events. One of the most common elements is focus on the local community as well as the nation. Local events will often be held in which people that have made significant contributions to the gay community are recognized, both gay and straight as many straight people have been integral to shaping the history of gays in America in a positive light.
A good example of a typical event would be a private viewing at an art gallery where nationally recognized gay artists work is displayed alongside that of local gay artists. Discussions will generally be held not just about the artists, by significant local and national figures in the gay community deserving recognition like perhaps local politicians, businessmen, fallen gay soldiers, or overlooked gay figures from the state’s history. Socials are the norm as well as a slew of fundraising events aimed at every cause under the sun, all with the same theme, knowing our history!
On the larger scale there are national conventions held, lecturers tour the country speaking sometimes at as many as four schools each day. That is assuming the schools allow them to visit at all as organizations like the Family Planning Committee, various religious groups, and the Concerned Women of America most notably have fought these speakers appearing saying it is part of the LGBT’s grand scheme to indoctrinate youth into the “gay lifestyle.” Even federal recognition of the month by President Bill Clinton in 2000 did not stop the protests. Aside from that the press is getting more and more involved with Coverage of Gay Pride Month by running movies, documentaries, and articles which focus on gay history.
If you’re looking for a month of wild parties, gay History Month will let you down, if however you are looking to learn and get in touch with the impact gay American’s have made to this nation then you will be overjoyed as each year it becomes a bigger event. When October rolls around next, enjoy Halloween and the change of seasons, but also take some time to clebrate gay Americans, whether you realize it or not, they have touched your life for the better in more ways than you likely realize.