LGBTQ+ History Month

LGBTQ+ History Month is a month-long annual celebration of lesbian, gay, bi, trans and non-binary history, including the history of LGBTQ+ rights and related civil rights movements. 

In the UK it is celebrated in February each year, to coincide with the 2003 abolition of Section 28. LGBTQ+ History Month was initiated in the UK by Schools Out UK in February 2005. 

The event is intended to raise awareness and increase visibility of the lives, histories and experiences of LGBTQ+ people, and combat prejudice.

Events

To mark LGBTQ+ History Month, the USW Chaplaincy has organised a series of lunchtime meetings on the subject of gender, sexuality, and faith.

‘Gender, Sexuality and Faith: Twenty Years On’

Thursday 25 January
1:00pm – 2:00pm

‘Gender, Sexuality and Faith: Twenty Years On’

Thursday 8 February
1:00pm – 2:00pm

‘Gender, Sexuality and Faith: Twenty Years On’

Thursday 15 February
1:00pm – 2:00pm

What LGBTQ+ History Month means to me

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David Sinclair, Advice Zone Assistant

LGBTQ+ History Month is an important calendar event because it’s a chance to focus on the important place & contribution we have made throughout history. It’s also an opportunity to put in context the continuing campaign for all equality.

Historical figures such as Marsha P Johnson were pioneers of intersectionality – which is recognising the connection between different areas of inequality such as race, sexual orientation and class. We are still learning those lessons and there is still a long way to go. 

Precious O’Driscoll

Precious O’Driscoll, Specialist Community Public Health Nursing (She/Her)

LGBTQ+ History Month holds a special significance for me as a bisexual woman in a straight relationship. It provides a dedicated space to celebrate and embrace an aspect of my identity that often goes unseen.

Because of my heterosexual partnership, societal assumptions grant me the privilege of not having to explicitly share, justify or even defend my queerness on a daily basis. However, this month allows me to proudly acknowledge and honour the full spectrum of my identity. It is a time to reflect on the struggles and triumphs of the LGBTQ+ community, fostering a sense of solidarity and understanding. By participating in LGBTQ+ History Month, I contribute to a broader narrative of inclusivity and recognition, emphasising that diverse sexual orientations exist within all walks of life. This celebration transcends assumptions, fostering visibility and acceptance, creating a world where every facet of my identity is not just acknowledged but celebrated.

Ray Vincent

Ray Vincent, Member of USW Chaplaincy Team and Chair of SPECTRUM (He/Him)

As a Christian minister, I am acutely aware that much of the mistreatment of LGBTQ+ people comes from religious communities. I am delighted to see that attitudes are changing today, and church leaders are speaking in kinder and more understanding tones, ...

... but there is still a long way to go. As yet, no mainstream Christian denomination has dared to revise its ‘official’ belief that homosexual acts are a sin.

However, I am old enough to remember a time when sex between men was a criminal offence and being ‘queer’ was condemned not only by the churches but by society in general. Even in Britain today, many LGBTQ+ people are rejected by communities and families who are not particularly religious at all. In other parts of the world things are much worse, and condemnation of those who do not fit the ‘norm’ is as much cultural as religious. I suspect that the real root of homophobia is not in religious doctrines but in the basic inability of some people to live with the fact that others are different. It is this common human limitation that is at the root of much racism, prejudice, community conflict, and war.

LGBTQ+ History Month is an opportunity to consign these irrational attitudes to the past and celebrate human beings in all their colourful, magnificent variety.

At the same time, I believe those of us who want to do this must follow its logic and apply it to ourselves. If we shut ourselves in a cosy circle of like-minded ‘enlightened’ people and only see the worst in those we label as ‘bigots’ or ‘homophobes’, we are surely mirroring those we oppose. You can’t convert people by condemning them. We must of course jump to the defence of those who are being hurt by the prejudice of others, but along with that I believe the radical challenge of Christianity is to treat all people – however unacceptable we find their views – with respect, honesty and love.

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Vaughan Rees, Director of Chaplaincy Services  

I confess to sometimes feeling a little sad and frustrated when the Chaplaincy is viewed with a kind of respectful suspicion when it comes to LGBTQ+ issues. Given some of the things that are said by some Christians there is an inevitability about this, and so I suppose I just need to take it on the chin...

...and commit myself to giving the lie to negative assumptions by the way I am as a person and the kind of service we offer as a Chaplaincy. 

Being open to and affirming of others is not something I have learnt as part of a theological doctrine or as a contemporary political theory. It has been a touchstone of my faithfulness to the God who was made known to me from childhood at Dinas Noddfa, my home Baptist Chapel in Swansea. Being open and affirming is what I am because of my faith and not in spite of it. Desmond Tutu said, ‘I would refuse to go to a homophobic heaven’. I want to say, if it is homophobic, It can’t be heaven.  

I have a vision that one day we will live in a world where different expressions of loving human sexuality will be celebrated, and a confident hope that the Church as whole will catch up and join in. 

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Martha Rogers, Marketing Executive (She/Her)

As a queer millennial, there are many defining moments in LGBTQ+ history that I don’t have a lived experience of. I don’t remember the beginning of the gay rights movement, which is often credited to the Stonewall Uprising. I didn’t experience the trauma of losing friends through the AIDS crisis. I wasn’t here to attend the first official UK Pride parade in the early 70s.  

As a community, we have a colourful and painful past. LGBTQ+ History Month is important to me because while there are many moments in our history that I haven’t lived through, they have defined where we are today. In my lifetime, we’ve gone from homosexuality being banned from being taught in schools and diagnosed as a mental illness, to being given equal marriage and adoption rights and being celebrated at Pride parades across the world. 

LGBTQ+ pioneers have allowed me to live a much more privileged life than they were able to, and the fight still isn’t over. As we campaign to ban conversion therapy in the UK, to put an end to hate crime which has soared over the past year, and fight for the rights of the most marginalised people in our community, we should acknowledge that the foundations were laid by those before us.  

There have been so many important events in the timeline of LGBTQ+ history that were turning points for greater equality and freedom. I celebrate LGBTQ+ History Month because I truly believe that learning from these past events will help us to create a more inclusive and accepting world for the future generations of our community. 

Jamie Evans, Wellbeing Support Officer (students)

Jamie Evans, Wellbeing Support Officer (students)  

LGBTQ+ History Month is a reminder. It’s a celebration of all our achievements, despite adversity. It’s a chance to remember that throughout the world we all don’t share the same freedoms. It’s an opportunity to appreciate those who came before us and paved the road to acceptance with words and actions. 

And finally, humbly, it’s a moment to show respect to the countless souls we lost along the way.  

By celebrating LGBTQ+ History Month, and by living as our authentic selves, we also light the way for those that will come after us. People may think that the work is done, that we enjoy the same rights and freedoms as everyone else. But we know this is fiction when people are arrested, abused, or worse, worldwide for the simple crime of being who they are. 

We proudly make it known who we are every February as a reminder of this, and to show that we aren’t going anywhere. And even when the work is done, whenever that may be, there will always be someone who needs to know that who they are is okay. There will always be someone in desperate need of a light to guide them down their path.   

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Adam Williams – Alumnus, Psychology with Criminology

LGBTQ+ History Month holds profound significance for me, serving as a vital platform that resonates with the very core of our identities. It is a month dedicated to unravelling the threads of history woven by LGBTQ+ individuals, offering a reflective journey that allows us to see ourselves mirrored in the narratives of the past.

It also compels us to think of those who still lack basic rights and protection. It highlights the global disparities, emphasizing that, despite progress, many endure prejudice and danger simply for being themselves. It serves as a call to action, urging us to work collectively to create a world where every individual, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, can live without fear of persecution.

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Ryan Mather, Student - Community Football Coaching and Development (He/Him)

LGBTQ+ history month means a lot to me because, being openly gay myself, it is a community I am from and to look back on history and celebrate the amazing things people have done to help push for change is really inspiring. 

We have come so far looking back on history but so much more needs to be done. It also raises so much visibility and awareness about what it’s like to be LGBTQ+ and the key issues we face.

To continue to keep pushing for change, we have to educate others and raise awareness about this topic. I'm a very proud gay man who will continue to campaign and push for change in today's society. I am the Founder of Proud Terriers, the LGBTQ+ supporters’ group for Huddersfield Town AFC. However, over the last twelve months, Proud Terriers has become more of a campaign for change rather than a group. I want to keep making a difference and push for change, and this was the best thing to do to move forward.

Emma Kwaya-James Blank

Emma Kwaya-James - Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Manager (She/Her)

LGBTQ+ month is important for me personally as a time of celebration and of remembrance. Celebration of the wonderful intersectional diversity of our LGBTQ+ community and remembrance of those that have lost their lives and of the ongoing global, national and local struggle, persecution and oppression faced by members of our LGBTQ+ community and of our own loss as a family. 

I remember the untimely and unanswered death of Joël Gustave Nana Ngongang frequently known as Joel Nana. Joel died in 2015 whilst visiting the place he referred to as home, Cameroon in West Africa. Joel was a proud openly gay man who was not only a leading African LGBTQ+ human rights advocate and HIV/AIDS activist but most importantly to us he was a brother, uncle, partner, confidante, and father.  

As a university, LGBTQ+ activity has been at the heart of our equality, diversity and inclusion agenda, with USW being ranked 24th on the Stonewall Index in 2020, and top Trans Employer in the same year. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, USW did not submit to the index in 2021. The University is currently undertaking work to further develop its Trans Guidance for colleagues and Name Change Policy for students and, alongside this, hopes to invest in ongoing Trans awareness raising sessions for both colleagues and students. As part of our commitment to the development of a pan University Wellbeing Plan, we will be developing and piloting a confidential discrimination reporting system as part of our zero-tolerance to bullying, harassment and discrimination. 

If you are a student or colleague at USW, and would like to share what LGBTQ+ History Month means to you, please email your contributions through to [email protected].    


Diverse reading and play lists

The University of South Wales Library Service has a number of LGBTQ+ diverse reading and play lists.