February is when LGBT+ History Month is marked in the UK. The Month aims to celebrate the LGBT+ community and the progress that has been made in achieving equal rights for them, whilst highlighting the oppression they still face in many parts of the world. Some more facts:
- As well as the UK, the Month is also marked in Berlin, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Greenland, Hungary and the United States.
- It is marked in February in the UK to commemorate the repealing of Section 28, a law that prevented local authorities from validating homosexuality until 2003.
- It was first marked in the UK in 2005, with over 150 events held across the country.
We spoke to Ben Shires, the university’s LGBT+ Experience Officer, about why the Month is important and how the university is marking it…
What is LGBT+ History Month and why is it important in 2020?
It’s mainly about celebrating the past, realising what we have in the present and trying to get where we want to get in the future in terms of the time that we’re in right now. It’s all about supporting people in coming out, making them realise that it’s okay.
The actual History Month itself is only quite a recent thing, it came about in the early 2000s after being educated in schools and stuff. Before that it was illegal to talk about homosexuals and stuff like that in schools, so it came about as a result of that ‒ teaching young people mainly about what it means to be gay, lesbian, liking people of the same sex and telling young people that it’s okay.
What is the uni doing to mark it?
They’re bringing out some LGBT shirts and stuff in the shops; they’ve got the rainbow flags in all the offices and shops and stuff. The sustainability team are doing a blog on what LGBT+ History Month is
and that kind of thing [we will link to it as soon as it’s up – Ed]; the SU in general are always raising awareness of like issues that affect the community, as simple as the use of the word ‘gay’ and how that impacts on people, even from a young age.
Are you happy with what the uni is doing? Could they do more?
I think they can always do more; there’s always more to do, I wouldn’t say there’s ever enough. But you can only do what you can physically do. And I think there’s such a thing as too much, potentially. But I’d say [the uni] is doing okay. They can always do more, I feel like some more events around raising awareness, more social media campaigning, you can always do more of that. But I’d say they’re doing okay.
You can read the SU’s official LGBT+ History Month statement here.