Today marks the beginning of the 18th annual observance of LGBT History Month. Since its creation, October has been to remember and recognize the moments, the milestones, and the individuals who have led the movement for LGBT equality.
Missouri high school history teacher Rodney Wilson founded LGBT History Month in 1994. At the time of its founding, the month included important dates like National Coming Out Day on Oct. 11th and the anniversary of the first march on Washington by LGBT people in 1979 on Oct. 14th. The month now also includes Spirit Day – observed this year on Oct. 19th, during which people around the world wear or display the color purple in support of LGBT youth. October is also home to GLSEN’s Ally Week.
Sadly, October also gives us a chance to reflect on the murder of 21-year-old Matthew Shepard on Oct. 12, 1998. Shepard's death sparked a nationwide dialogue about the need for hate crimes protections, and eventually helped inspire the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.
All month long, Equality Forum will be highlighting a different LGBT icon each day, from contemporary figures like Don Lemon and Kate Clinton, to those who paved the way like Christine Jorgensen and Billy Strayhorn.
You can see their introductory video here:
Equality Forum's month of features begin with the first-ever LGBT federal appointee to be confirmed by the Senate, Roberta Achtenberg.
We encourage all media to take this opportunity to reflect on the history of the LGBT community throughout October.