Today marks the beginning of GLBT History Month, a new effort in recent years to raise awareness to the contributions of different icons in the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community. Every day of the month, a prominent figure will be honored on the event’s official website, with a biography, video, bibliography, and other downloadable resources, all available for free. Some of the people featured include Matthew Shepard, the victim of a brutal murder in 1998 that sparked the federal hate crime legislation named after him; Eleanor Roosevelt, First Lady under Franklin D. Roosevelt and an inspiring activist for minorities and the oppressed; Leslie Feinberg, a transgender rights activist and author of the groundbreaking novel Stone Butch Blues; and Cynthia Nixon, a mainstream actress who became engaged to her partner Christine Marinoni in 2008 and has donated much of her time to gay rights activism. The event is coordinated by Equality Forum, and this year marks its fifth anniversary. “For a community deprived of its history, LGBT History Month teaches our heritage, provides role models, builds community, and recognizes our extraordinary national and international contributions,” Equality Forum’s Executive Director, Malcolm Lazin, told The Vital Voice last year. Archives for the 155 icons from previous years are available on the GLBT History Month website, and in 2011, the Equality Forum will officially rename the occasion as LGBT History Month. Most notably, the U.S. Department of Education recently announced its official endorsement of GLBT History Month, and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan will provide the introductory remarks at the Department’s first LGBT History Month event. “We salute Equality Forum for spearheading this free educational resource,” said Ora Alger, the President of LGBTA Employees for the Education Department. GLAAD is proud to recognize GLBT History Month as well, along with other national organizations including the Human Rights Campaign, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, GLSEN, the National Education Association, and more. GLAAD encourages the event’s reaffirmation of the contributions of the members of our community, and is committed to furthering equality by shining a light on their voices.