LGBT history isn’t taught in many schools, but it’s never too late to learn.
First celebrated in 1994, LGBT History Month was conceived by Missouri high school history teacher Rodney Wilson, who decided that gay and lesbian history should have its own month dedicated to the celebration and teaching of it. A coordinating committee of other teachers and community leaders formed to plan it, and another history month was born.
It is observed in October to coincide with National Coming Out Day on October 11, and to commemorate the first LGBT March on Washington in 1979. First known simply as “Lesbian and Gay History Month,” the word “bisexual” was soon added to the title. Later, it simply became known as LGBT History Month after the most common acronym for the community.
The official website, if a history month can be said to have one, is LGBT History Month, which was created by the national and international LGBT civil rights organization Equality Forum in 2006. According to the site’s background page, “LGBT History Month celebrates the achievements of 31 lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender Icons. Each day in October, a new LGBT Icon is featured with a video, bio, bibliography, downloadable images and other resources.”
The list of people from history to be honored for 2014 is already displayed in full on the left side of the site, listed in alphabetical order by last name. It begins with Richard Adams, who filed the first US lawsuit to seek federal recognition of same-sex marriage in 1975, and goes on to recognize figures such as Tseng Kwong Chi, a photographer whose best-known work consisted of self-portraits that explored perceptions of identity and stereotypes, and CeCe McDonald, the transgender woman who was incarcerated for killing an assailant in self-defense and consequently suffered such inhumane treatment that she was compelled to become an activist for prison reform.
Every day during the month of October, the website is updated with a new page of educational media to inform visitors about the life and achievements of another person on the list. In addition to a text biography, each person’s page includes a short video, pictures, and resources to learn more.
All 31 of the 2014 biographies can be downloaded in a single PDF file here.
Information on people honored in previous years, dating back to 2006, can also be found in the LGBT History Month database.
The website notes that its educational efforts are especially vital, given that the LGBT community “is not taught its history at home, in public schools or in religious institutions. LGBT History Month provides role models, builds community and makes the civil rights statement of our extraordinary national and international contributions.”