February celebrates LGBT History Month, a month when we get together and celebrate and remember those who fought for equal rights for the community.
Celebrating LGBT History Month: The People Who Changed History
February celebrates LGBT History Month, a month when we get together and celebrate and remember those who fought for equal rights for the community. Each year thousands of events take place across the world, with seminars, parties (albeit virtual this year), and many other events take place. Each year is themed, with this year exploring’ Body, Mind, Spirit’, a subject which couldn’t be further from people’s minds given the last 12 months.
LGBT History Month first started back in 1994 and was founded by a Missouri high-school teacher named Rodney Wilson. It was a landmark celebration that has since spread worldwide, with Wilson adding his name to a long list of important people that have made a mark in the LGBT community. The community here at Moon Bingo also comes alive during LGBT History Month and Pride, with our chat rooms and bingo games full of well-wishers and discussions on how to mark the occasion.
As LGBT History Month is about to kick off, we thought it would be pertinent to look back over history. Here, we pay homage to some of the extraordinary people who have made a mark in the community, championing gay rights and really making a difference…
Karl Heinrich Ulrichs
Karl Heinrich Ulrichs is regarded as the first person to publicly speak about gay rights and urged the German government to repeal the anti-homosexuality laws which were strict in the country. He was a civil servant in Germany until he lost his job due to his sexuality, becoming one of the most prominent activists and publishing a dozen books and papers on sexuality. He became a pioneer of the gay rights movement and a lot is owed to him for the hardships he went through during the mid-1800s.
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Barbara Gittings was born in Austria in the 1930s but moved to Philadelphia aged 18, where she would become a prominent member of the American Psychiatric Association (APA), fighting to remove homosexuality from the list of psychiatric disorders. She’s largely regarded as a USA lesbian civil rights pioneer and headed up the Daughters of Bilitis during the 1950s where they made huge moves in battling for equal rights. Each year during Pride month, especially, she’s always remembered and in 2006 she was given the APA’s first annual civil rights award.
Harvey Milk made history in 1977 by becoming the first openly gay person to be elected into public office. He’d long been a gay rights activist before then and was a key figure in the movement in San Francisco. In 1978 Milk was tragically shot by Dan White, a man also sitting on the San Francisco City Board. The mark he made was lasting though and you can read all about him in many biographies and books which champion his achievements. Sean Penn’s portrayal of him in Milk also earned rave reviews and picked up multiple awards.
Audre Lorde was born in New York, but her words have become synonymous with gay rights all over the world. She was a librarian for many years before she published her first poetry book, titled First Cities. Released in 1968, followed by many more volumes, her work covered sexuality often, alongside black civil rights and her own personal battles with cancer and she was honoured in 1991 with the title of Poet Laureate for New York. Sadly, she passed away just a year later but her legacy lives on through the Audre Lorde Award which honours the best works of lesbian poetry each year.