LGBT+ History Month
When we think about LGBT+ History Month some will think about the Sexual Offences Act of 1967, a piece of legislation that can be seen as a small but significant start to the legal acceptance of same-sex relationships. It maintained many barriers to inequality and, in some circles, sustained a wider culture of exclusion and distrust, but for many in the LGBT+ community that small step was hugely significant.
Some may think of the rioting that followed a police raid on a LGBT+ venue, the Stonewall Inn, on Christopher Street in New York in 1969. Though not the start of the gay rights movement, the Stonewall uprising does mark a key historical moment when LGBT+ rights became something more publicly discussed. Though both these events are still within the living memory of many older members of the LGBT+ community it is easy to lapse into thinking that the community’s history is all in some vague past; interesting, but not relevant to us, now, in a time where that community (my community) has so much legislative recognition.
The problem of seeing history as something that happened then but has little to do with us now is that it puts a gap between us and our history, a gap that risks of disengaging us from what are continuing struggles. Being LGBT+ is still a criminal offence in around 70 countries, with 12 of them that have the death penalty on their statute books for consensual same-sex sexual acts between adults. Within our own country hate crime on the basis of race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or sexual identity has increased hugely since 2015.
According to the Home Office, in a report on Hate Crime published late last year, violent crime against someone on the basis of their sexual orientation has increased by 136% in that period, and violence against someone on the basis of their being Trans increased 210% in the same period. LGBT+ History month should be more than ensuring that the past is not ignored, erased, or forgotten, it is also about actively engaging with the issues that currently confront us, and shaping that history upon which the future will draw into its gaze.