October is designated as LGBT History Month. Although it feels like LGBT history is being made every day, it's worth noting that we have only achieved the gains we have today because of the toil and effort of those who came before us. LGBT History Month is an opportunity to look at the people, places, and moments that helped move the LGBT community forward on its path to acceptance.
LGBT History Month began in 1994, when Rodney Wilson, a Missouri high school teacher, believed a month should be dedicated to the celebration and teaching of gay and lesbian history, and gathered other teachers and community leaders. They selected October because public schools are in session and existing traditions, such as Coming Out Day (October 11), occur that month.
Gay and Lesbian History Month was endorsed by several leading LGBT organizations, including GLAAD, the Human Rights Campaign, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, the National Education Association, and other national organizations. In 2006, Equality Forum assumed responsibility for providing content, promotion and resources for LGBT History Month.
Each year, LGBT History Month chooses 31 icons to discuss their role in LGBT history, and shares their stories, one each day. This year, icons feature people from a wide variety of disciplines and backgrounds, including playwright Edward Albee, transgender murder victim Gwen Araujo, Black political activist Mandy Carter, astronaut Sally Ride, actor and social media king George Takei, and GLAAD founder Vito Russo.
The icon for October 1 is Zackie Achmat, a South African LGBT advocate. Check back every day to learn more about each icon.
There is no progress without knowing history. Without these icons, and so many others, the LGBT community would not be where we are today. We also look at this history knowing how much further we have to go until LGBT people are fully accepted into society.