outing the past

Love is Love: Welcome to UK LBGTQ+ History Month!

Senior lecturer Caroline Nielsen writes:

love Photo by Jiroe on Unsplash

Photo of rainbow hearts by Jiroe on Unsplash

Love is Love: Welcome to UK LBGTQ+ History Month!

February is UK LGBT+ History Month, an inclusive celebration of history.

Across the country, public events will be taking place to celebrate the long history and global diversity of LGBTQ+ experience. It aims to promote equality and diversity in communities, with a special emphasis on providing resources and support for LGBTQ+ people, young and old. It raises awareness of the diversity and complexity of human identity and relationships over time, highlighting the damaging effects of prejudice and discrimination. The theme for this year is poetry, prose and plays.

2019 marks the 14th anniversary of this public history event. It has certainly come a long way since 2005. The first LGBT+ History Month was faced with a number of tabloid news stories with barely disguised homophobia running through them (see the work of Robert Mills on this).  LGBTQ+ history sometimes still suffers from a vague public misconception that it is an inappropriate form of biographic history which likes to ‘out’ historic individual’s intimate relationships and/or sexual preferences for either salacious entertainment or for political reasons. Discussing a historic person’s sexuality can still be controversial, especially if they were believed to have possibly been in a same-sex or ‘queer’ sexual or romantic relationship at some point in their lives. There has been debate about how appropriate it is to, in the words of one author, ‘open history’s closets’.[1] This view helped fuel another early misconception about the history of sexualities and LGBTQ+ experience; that it was just about what people historically liked to do with other people in bed.

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