Nathan Howard ’25
LGBTQIA+ History Month is celebrated yearly during the month of October. This month recognizes and celebrates both the history of LGBTQIA+ individuals as well as the ongoing fight for LGBTQIA+ civil rights throughout the world. Through the sponsorship of the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, as well as Outfront, a Holy Cross LGBTQIA+ Faculty and Staff Alliance, Holy Cross celebrates LGBTQIA+ History Month throughout the entirety of October. The Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion explains how the month allows the College’s community “to rejoice throughout the month of October to recognize the achievements of the LGBTQIA+ community, both on campus and beyond.”
LGBTQIA+ History Month was founded in 1994 by Missouri high-school teacher Rodney Wilson, whose goal was to share and celebrate the powerful and diverse history of the LGBTQIA+ community. According to Equality Forum, a national and international LGBTQIA+ civil rights organization, the celebration of LGBTQIA+ History Month is important in the recognition of the history of civil rights as the LGBTQIA+ community “is the only community worldwide that is not taught its history at home, in public schools or in religious institutions.” Additionally, the founders of Equality Forum share the belief that LGBTQIA+ History Month “provides role models, builds community and makes the civil rights statement about our extraordinary national and international contributions.” LGBTQIA+ History Month is widely endorsed by a number of human and civil rights organizations, including GLAAD, the Human Rights Campaign, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, and the National Education Association.
LGBTQIA+ History Month is recognized in October as it coincides with National Coming Out Day, which is traditionally celebrated on October 11th. Additionally, Spirit Day is celebrated on October 20th. Spirit Day is an annual awareness day centered around the protection of LGBTQIA+ youth. Spirit Day was first recognized in 2010, and was originally created as a response to bullying-related suicides among LGBTQIA+ students. The color purple is often associated with Spirit Day and is used as a symbol of support for LGBTQIA+ youth and anti-bullying. Holy Cross asked members of its community to wear purple on October 20th in support of LGBTQIA+ youth. Ally week is also usually held sometime in October to celebrate allyship with the LGBTQIA+ community and stand up to various forms of bullying and harassment. LGBTQIA+ History Month also coincides with the anniversary of the death of Matthew Shepard, a 21 year old college student who was unjustly murdered because of his sexual orientation on October 12, 1998.
A statement from the College’s Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion explains that LGBTQIA+ History Month “serves as a reminder of the civil rights activists in the LGBTQIA+ community that have shaped the movement today” and states that “This month highlights the work of those who identify as Transgender and Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) in sparking critical moments in LGBTQIA+ history, like the Stonewall Riots of 1969.” The College’s celebration of LGBTQIA+ History Month represents a necessary step for the recognition of a diverse and powerful history of a world community that still faces a constant struggle for civil rights.
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia
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