Well here we are once again at the start of LGBT History Month and this year I plan to write a blog post for every day of the month following my introduction to the topic at the beginning of January.
I will also be updating my web site at GenderNetwork.com with mostly extended articles on LGBT History and I am inviting everyone to come and join in.
Anyone who has attended my Transgender Awareness Workshops will know that I like to include some history in the workshops. Some of that history is recorded in the history books, especially the more recent history – but some we have to really search for. Because LGBT people have been so persecuted in the past, the writers of history have often written us out of it, or have played down the role of LGBT people. Sometimes the history books have even lied to conceal the truth.
Some of what I write about will be controversial – for example:
- Why did Henry VIII make buggery a capital offence? Very few people seem to have been hanged for the offence in the sixteenth century or seventeenth centuries but the Buggery Act of 1533 was passed just before the start of the dissolution of the monasteries. Was there a connection?
- 120 of William Shakespeare’s sonnets were dedicated to a Mr W H. Who was this mysterious man? There are many theories about Shakespeare being gay but sonnet number 20 suggests that this may have been a man who dressed and looked like a woman. Was Shakespeare in love with a trans woman?
- In the Bible, Deuteronomy Chapter 22 verse 5 says “The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman's garment: for all that do so are an abomination unto the LORD thy God”. Yet when this was written men and women largely wore the same clothes anyway. In 1611 however, James I encouraged the bishops to preach against the evils of women dressing as men. Was this verse translated to support a then current political position favoured by James I. who was to authorise the version of the Bible still used today?
To Build a Library of LGBT History Stories
History is not just about official stories from the history books. History is a living process. Do you remember what life was like for LGBT people in the past? I remember attending the first Ziggy Stardust Concert at the Finsbury Park Rainbow theatre on 19th August 1973. Even Elton John thought David bowie had “blown it” that night. Few music stars were out and many thought that the public would desert them if they did come out. I just wish I had had the courage that night to come out myself – but that would take another 25 years. However I never forgot the night and I have written an article about it to encourage anyone reading my blog or web site to add your stories. Lets create a living history of LGBT people. Tell us about –
- Your coming out story
- Early Gay Pride events you have helped to organise
- Support Organisations or Gay venues you remember or helped to create
- Discrimination, Harassment or Victimisation you have experienced.
- Stories about LGBT personalities
- Anything else that helps to create a living LGBT History
I deliver Transgender Awareness Training and general Sex, Gender and Equality Training because I believe that this is the only way to bring about equality. It does not matter how many laws we change, unless we can change people’s attitudes, LGBT people will continue to be discriminated against; will continue to be victims of hate crime; will continue to self harm and attempt suicide at a rate that is over 70 time higher than the nation average.
Teaching children about the role of LGBT people in history is an important way to tackle prejudice at an early age. LGBT History, like Women’s History and Black History, is an essential elements of a well rounded education.
To Encourage You To Participate In LGBT History Month
What can you do to participate in LGBT History Month? Well lots really.
First – enter your email address and subscribe to this blog at the top of the column on the right. You can cancel your subscription whenever you like but in the meantime you will be able to read 28 fascinating articles and hopefully will have a different perspective on all LGBT people by the time we reach March
Secondly you can sponsor or participate in a host of LGBT History Month Projects, Visit the LGBT History Month web site to find out what is happening near you.
Thirdly, please contribute your LGBT History stories to my web site
Finally if you are running any LGBT History Month or Equality events this month or in the future, Why now consider inviting me Rikki Arundel, to speak at your events or to run a Transgender Awareness Training Workshop.