In 1994, Missouri high school teacher Rodney Wilson decided that students should learn about gay and lesbian history. He gathered a group of teachers, community leaders, and other allies to support him in this quest. A little more than a decade later in 2006, the Equality Forum took over the responsibility of putting together programming, educational content, and promotional support to expand its reach. Now we spend each October celebrating that history, educating others, and hopefully creating even more allies from the efforts as LGBTQ History Month.
It’s important for our LGBTQ youth to learn this history. Whether a young person has already experienced discrimination or bullying in their short lives or found immediate love and support from every person around them when they came out, they are standing on the shoulders of LGBTQ giants who also shared those experiences during their lives.
Sadly, LGBTQ history is only required to be taught in schools in four states (and ironically, Missouri, the state where this all began, it not on the list.) So it’s up to each of us to find ways to get educated about that history. Here are a few resources to do just that:
This is the website built by the AFGAH to showcase 31 different LGBTQ icons, one each day during the month. In addition to the videos hosted each October, there is also a search feature that allows you to look up more than 400 celebrants from earlier years. If you don’t know people by name, you can click on the keywords in a tag cloud to find more. I selected “transgender” and this list of 32 folks popped up.
A quick search on YouTube turns up a lot of great short videos that cover a wide variety of topics related to LGBTQ history. These have been created by individuals, organizations, and even ally media outlets. Here are a few that I have liked.
Top 10 Important LGBTQ Moments In US History (a few years old now)
A Queer History of the United States for Young People
Believe it or not, queer history didn’t start with a rainbow flag or Pride parades. This book teaches young folks in age-appropriate language how LGBTQ people have contributed to US history and culture for more than 400 years. Yes…400 years! Each carefully selected profile bolsters the case for queer leadership and activism as a driving force of progress.
The Book of Pride: LGBTQ Heroes Who Changed the World
The story of the gay rights movement comes to life through interviews with the leaders, activists, and ordinary people who made it happen. Teens and tweens will be inspired by these stories.
This is an illustrated book that highlights the contributions of LGBTQ artists, writers, innovators, athletes, and activists … from Sappho to Freddie Mercury.
Tell us how you’ve learned your queer history. What stories have been most inspiring to you and your family? Let us know other suggestions in the comments!