IMG_7249 (2)Sue Sanders, chair of Schools OUT UK (the charity that launched LGBT+ History Month), stresses the importance of engaging with our queer past, something very doable during lockdown.

When Paul Patrick and I started LGBT+ HM in 2005, it was in the hope schools – among other places – would use February to make the LGBT+ community visible, and stop lying about us by omission. You may have been to some of our events over the years. It has been truly wonderful to see so many people join together in claiming our past, celebrating our present and creating our future.

Five years ago Dr Jeff Evans (a member of the small unpaid Schools OUT UK committee) suggested a festival of LGBT+ history, for which we asked people for 20-minute presentations and found venues that wanted to showcase them. An annual event, this year OUTing the Past had over 70 offers of presentations, and was due to occur across 22 venues in England, the island of Ireland, New York and Boston. Due to the virus we had to cancel the three events in Ireland and the USA, but all the others took place. You can find out more about the presentations and presenters here.

We are now thinking about next year, understanding that OUTing the Past might need to be a virtual festival. Those of you with memories of past lesbian, bi, and trans events who would like to share, please contact us. We want to make sure our history is prominent and accessible.IMG_8172 (2)

Now might also be a good time to dig out your old posters, badges, leaflets and t-shirts etc. to share with your local archive. Mine and those of Schools OUT UK are held at Bishopsgate Institute, London, as they are very friendly, efficient and accessible. You can see what they hold on LGBT+ material here.

We have also set up a website, the-classroom.org.uk (currently being refreshed by theproudtrudst.org), which has over 80 lesson plans that usualise LGBT+ issues across the curriculum and for all ages. Those of you home schooling might find the resources here useful. We will in the long run use some of the many presentations we have now collected to augment those lessons, making us and our history more accessible to students. I find it shocking when I go into schools that students have not heard of Greenham, or known there were suffragettes who were lesbian, disabled and Indian, for example. It is up to us to provide the resources so there is no excuse for such ignorance. We are working with some Goldsmiths students about to launch an interactive project about the rainbows popping up everywhere – check out the LGBT+ HM website for updates.

And you can find all sorts of fascinating podcasts and videos celebrating LGBT+ history, many of which we’ll post on the LGBT+ HM Facebook. Dan Vo’s #MuseumFromHome broadcasts are definitely worth checking out!

Photography from the LGBT+ HM Launch 2020 |  Nicolas Chinardet zefrographica

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