3 Ways to Celebrate LGBTQ+ History Month

October is LGBTQ+ History Month.

More often than not, stories of LGBTQ+ civil rights movements and their leaders become uncoupled from American history and are lost in traditional educational systems. 

This month, we encourage you to reconnect with and share our rich history, honor those who paved the way for LGBTQ+ communities, and take time to appreciate the work still going on around us.

Not sure where to start? PIOW has you covered.

Keep reading for 3+ easy ways that you can celebrate LGBTQ+ History Month!

1. Discover LGBTQ+ History

Documentaries. LGBTQ+ documentaries provide an easy entrypoint for folks hoping to learn more about a specific movement or segment of the LGBTQ+ population. Incorporate documentaries into your own learning journey, or offer paired documentary screenings and discussion sessions as an opportunity for ERG members to engage this month. 

Not all documentaries are created equal. Ensure that any docs you screen center authentic LGBTQ+ experiences and a range of diverse voices. We recommend:

Organizations. Discover LGBTQ+ history by connecting directly with teams doing the work to preserve and create it. Explore resources provided by larger organizations like GLBT History online, or seek out smaller organizations like The History Project: Documenting LGBTQ+ Boston to understand the cultural impact of LGBTQ+ communities at the local level. 

2. Honor Leaders Who Paved the Way

In honoring the memories and contributions of those who came before us, LGBTQ+ and allied individuals can better appreciate the breadth of LGBTQ+ rights movements and begin to understand the type of leadership required to continue moving the needle forward.

Each year, The Equality Forum dedicates the 31 days of October to spotlighting 31 icons in LGBTQ+ history. Nearly 500 leaders have been honored since adopting this practice in 2006. Explore the full list of honorees on the LGBT History Month website, and find a few of our team’s favorite community activists featured below: 

Marsha P. Johnson

Marsha P. Johnson was an activist, performer, and survivor. She was a prominent figure in the Stonewall uprising of 1969. Marsha went by “BLACK Marsha” before settling on Marsha P. Johnson. The “P” stood for “Pay It No Mind,” which is what Marsha would say in response to questions about her gender. (Source: The Marsha P. Johnson Institute)

Harvey Milk

Harvey Milk was a visionary civil and human rights leader who became one of the first openly gay elected officials in the United States, winning a seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. Milk’s unprecedented loud and unapologetic proclamation of authenticity as an openly gay candidate gave a new hope to the LGBTQ+ community during a time of widespread hostility and discrimination. (Source: Harvey Milk Foundation)

Sylvia Rivera

Sylvia Rivera was veteran of the 1969 Stonewall uprising, and a tireless advocate for the fair and equal treatment of gay and trans community members. She worked alongside Marsha P. Johnson to co-found STAR, a groundbreaking organization in the queer liberation movement. (Source: The Sylvia Rivera Law Project; )

Urvashi Vaid

Urvashi Vaid was a prolific LGBTQ+ organizer, activist, and lawyer. Under her leadership, the Boston Lesbian/Gay Political Alliance, National LGBTQ Taskforce, Ford Foundation, and Arcus Foundation led large-scale LGBTQ+ advocacy, HIV/AIDS education, and prison reform, among other initiatives. (Source: New Yorker)

3. Experience History Happening Now

LGBTQ+ history happening all around us. Connect with local LGBTQ+ communities by finding public events and panels in your area. Located near Boston? Stop into the city to check out the following events this month:

  • Portraits of Pride Exhibition, Boston Common
    10/1 – 10/29: Portraits of Pride is an LGBTQ+ Photography Exhibition on display at the Boston Common throughout October. The installation features 8-foot tall portraits of local LGBTQ+ leaders. This one-of-a-kind exhibit celebrates the rich history of Boston’s LGBTQ+ community and the many contributions its leaders have made to the advancement of rights in Massachusetts and beyond.
  • Rainbow Tales, Museum of Science
    10/6: Rainbow Tales aims to uncover stories that center LGBTQIA+ lives and amplify them to the public. This month, the series comes to the stage for an evening of live stories and talks from the LGBTQIA+ community centered on themes of diversity, equity, inclusion, gender identity and expression, trials and triumphs, wellness, and shared experience.
  • SpeakOUT 50th Anniversary Celebration, District Hall
    10/26: Only three short years after the Stonewall Rebellion, gays and lesbians in Boston founded the Gay Speakers Bureau to share personal stories that open minds and change oppressive attitudes. For the next five decades, SpeakOUT speakers continued that tradition. Join PIOW Community Grant recipient SpeakOUT to celebrate 50 years of service to LGBTQ+ communities.
  • GLAD Spirit of Justice Award Dinner, Park Plaza Hotel
    10/27: GLAD’s Spirit of Justice Award Dinner is a powerful event that brings together supporters of LGBTQ+ equality to unite in resistance, look toward a future of true justice, and support GLAD’s life-changing mission. This year, attendees can join the celebration in-person or virtually.

How are you celebrating LGBTQ+ History Month? Share this post + tag us on social with your LGBTQ+ History Month plans!

Until next time, enjoy October and bask in all that LGBTQ+ history has to offer.

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Recent LGBTQ+ History Highlights in the U.S.

We credit those who have fought before us, who advocate and carry the weight of social justice labor in this moment, and the next generation of leaders who will continue the LGBTQ+  liberation movement for years to come. In honor of Pride Month, let’s celebrate five major LGBTQ+ milestones of the last decade, together.

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