LGBTQ History Month Information
What is it? (Sources: PFLAG National; Equality Forum; Gerber/Hart library & Archives; GLSEN; Human Rights Campaign)
LGBTQ History Month was established in 1994 in Missouri by several grassroots organizations and educators who believed the accomplishments and contributions of this segment of the u.s. population should be included in accounts of our nation's history.
The month of October was chosen in order to commemorate the anniversaries of the first two gay and lesbian marches on Washington, D.C. in 1979 which drew over 200,000, and 1987 which drew over 500,000 marchers and had the first public viewing of the NAMES Project AIDS Quilt. In addition, Oct. 11 is National Coming Out Day in recognition that sexual orientation or gender identity should not prevent any persons from living their lives openly as full participants in our society.
LGBTQ History Month was declared in 1995 by the governors of Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Oregon, and by the mayors of Chicago and Boston. It has been endorsed by the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD); the Human Rights Campaign; the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force; Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG); the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Educational Network (GLSEN); the Equality Forum; Campus Pride; the U.S. Department of Education; and many other national organizations. Local endorsements include: Cimarron Alliance Foundation in Oklahoma City; PFLAG Norman; PFLAG Tulsa; The Equality Network (TEN) in Tulsa; OU GLBTF; United Students at OU Law; OU LGBTQ Advisory Council; the Reconciling Ministries Committee of St. Stephen's United Methodist Church in Norman; the United Church of Norman-UCC; the Norman Unitarian Universalist Church; the Norman Unitarian Universalist Fellowship; Mainstream Oklahoma Baptists; Americans United for Separation of Church and State (OKC and Norman Chapters); and many other organizations. The City of Norman has proclaimed October, 2010 as LGBTQ History Month in the City of Norman.
- FBI (2008) reported that, after race and religion, crimes motivated by negative sexual orientation bias comprise the 3rd largest category of hate crimes.
- 90% of LGBTQ youth report having been harassed or assaulted during the school year (GLSEN,2005). Cyber-bullying has become pervasive.
- LGBTQ youth are 2 to 3 times more likely to attempt suicide than other youth. (Trevor Project).
A Few Prominent LGBTQ People in History
Jane Addams: founded Hull House in Chicago in 1889 to provide shelter and support for poor and homeless people.
U.S. Marine TSgt. Eric Alva: the first United States servicemember to have been seriously wounded in the Iraq war, 2003. Eric lost a leg to a land mine. In true Marine Corps tradition, his fellow Marines immediately came to his aid, protected him from further injury, and brought him to safety. According to Eric, everyone in his unit was aware of his sexual orientation and they accepted him as an important member ofthe unit. Eric is now retired from military service and travels widely, speaking on behalf of the thousands of gay and lesbian servicemembers who still serve honorably to protect the rights that we all hold dear, in spite of the threat of being discharged from our military because of their sexual orientation.
Bayard Rustin: an African-American civil rights activist who instructed Martin Luther King, Jr. in techniques of peaceful civil disobedience. Rustin organized Dr. King's 1963 March on Washington (I have a Dream.)
Tom Waddell, M.D.: Dr. Waddell was also a United States Army paratrooper and an Olympic Decathlete. His professional career was dedicated to HIV/AIDS research and to operating hospices for victims of AIDS.
George Washington Carver: 19th and 20th century scientist credited with revolutionizing the southern agricultural economy by developing many products from one crop, particularly the peanut.
Leonard Bernstein: 20th Century Conductor of the New York Philharmonic for many years,composer, brought millions of people the gift of the world's most beautiful music.
Matthew Shepard: a 21 year old student in Wyoming, the target of a hate crime motivated by homophobia, beaten severely and left to die tied to a fence in rural Wyoming. Matthew died from his injuries several days later and became the inspiration for the "Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention act of 2009" which provides federal protection for LGBTQ individuals against whom crimes have been carried out based on their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.
Paul Thompson: Oklahoma City man whose life was dedicated to peace and justice. Paul served on the NAACP Board, the Oklahoma Gay and Lesbian Political Caucus, and helped found the Oklahoma Human Rights Commission.
(sources: Lambda Legal; Equality Forum; Aaron Bachofer, Ph.D. doctoral research; PFLAG National; Paul Thompson obituary; Eric Alva post, Human Rights Campaign Backstory; Human Rights Campaign)
To Learn More About GLBT History, People, and Issues:
Norman PRIDE: Develops events to spread acceptance and awareness for the LGBTQ community, with a vision of feeling welcome so everyone can be themselves no matter who they are.
Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) National Office: Informs United States Congress and Federal Agencies on issues of equality for LGBTQ citizens and provides input to policy makers. Communicates with local chapters on these matters and supports local chapters in their efforts to bring full equality to LGBTQ citizens in their communities.
PFLAG Norman - Provides education to the public on LGBTQ issues; advocates on behalf of equal rights for LGBTQ persons; and supports LGBTQ persons and their families, friends, and allies who benefit from coming together in monthly group sessions to share concerns, celebrations, and issues in a nonjudgmental, supportive environment. PFLAG Norman collaborates with other organizations and with local business, education, and governmental entities to foster a more inclusive community.
Cimarron Alliance Foundation: Nonprofit political action organization promoting awareness and LGBTQ equality in Oklahoma. www.cimarronalliance.org
The Equality Network (TEN): Promotes and advocates for LGBTQ equality in Oklahoma.
Equality Forum: An international LGBTQ civil rights organization with an educational focus.Coordinates LGBTQ History Month, produces documentary films, undertakes high-impact initiatives, and presents the largest annual national and international LGBTQ civil rights summit.
Gay, Lesbian, Straight Educational Network (GLSEN): the leading national educational organization focused on ensuring safe schools for all students. It seeks to create school climates where difference is valued and students learn to respect others without regard for sexual orientation or gender identity.
Human Rights Campaiqn: America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve LGBTQ equality. HRC works at federal and state levels by lobbying elected officials, mobilizing grassroots organizations, educating the public, and partnering with other organizations.
The Trevor Project: The leading national organization that focuses solely on crisis and suicide prevention efforts among Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer or Questioning (LGBTQ) youth.
Lambda Legal: The largest legal organization working for civil rights for LGBTQ persons.
The Welcoming Project: The Welcoming Project began in 2011 to encourage local businesses, health care/service providers, organizations and congregations in Norman to display welcoming signs for the purpose of making LGBTQ individuals and allies feel welcomed as patrons.