There are many forums that document American history, but few dedicate themselves to documenting LGBT history. These forums might appear as collections of literature, art, or music. However there is one website in particular, which puts all of LGBT culture together, and celebrates LGBT History Month one icon at a time.
LGBT History Month is a website that revolves around its name, which is celebrated October of every year. “LGBT History Month celebrates the achievements of 31 lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender Icons. Each day in October, a new LGBT Icon is featured with a video, bio, bibliography, downloadable images and other resources.” The website also highlights historical information about the LGBT community, among the 31 icons featured during the month itself.
“Rodney Wilson, a Missouri high school teacher, believed a month should be dedicated to the celebration and teaching of gay and lesbian history, and gathered other teachers and community leaders. They selected October because public schools are in session and existing traditions, such as Coming Out Day (October 11), occur that month,” the website explains. LGBT History Month has many supporting organizations. These organizations include the Human Rights Campaign, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, the National Education Association, GLAAD, and other national organizations. The Equality Forum also began to coordinate, promote and contribute to LGBT History Month in 2006, which has since helped the website grow and share information. Equality Forum undertakes high-impact initiatives and presents the largest annual national and international LGBT civil rights summit, as well as produces documentary films for LGBT History Month.
There are many prominent figures that are featured among the 31 days in October. These icons are all members of the LGBT community. Some of the 2014 icons included Marc Jacobs, Frank Ocean, Lord Byron, and June Jordan. Evident in just four of the 31 names is the diversity of these prominent LGBT figures. From fashion designers to athletes and political leaders to poets, LGBT History Month does an incredible job highlighting the many accomplished members of the LGBT community.
The website also features ideas for students, educators, GSAs, schools and colleges as to how to appropriately celebrate LGBT History Month. This is a crucial aspect to the website because it engages the user and intends to spread the message of the vitality of LGBT history. There is also an area for users to nominate LGBT History Month Icons for the following year, which explains how the icons are chosen. These icons can all be found in the database, which features 279 icons from 2006-2014. The icons can be searched by name, or even tag, such as “Academy Award,” “Chicago,” “Politics,” “Composer,” and more.
George Chauncey, Samuel Knight Professor of American History and Chair of the History Department at Yale University, is featured on the website, explaining the importance of LGBT history. “LGBT History Month sends an important message to our nation’s teachers, school boards, community leaders, and youth about the vital importance of recognizing and exploring the role of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people in American history.” His words resonate with any user who visits the website, because American history cannot be complete without its LGBT contributors.
The importance of LGBT history is apparent in the way LGBT History Month chooses the icons. As a young student wishing to be educated on prominent LGBT figures, there is a name that most everyone can recognize. Being able to feature icons from the 18th century to present day is crucial in showing how much music, art, literature, political progress, and more have come from members of the LGBT community. The successes of these individuals have shaped American society and history, just as much as they have shaped LGBT history. It is important to understand that without LGBT history, much of American history would not be complete.