It’s a question with a simple answer; YES.
The history taught throughout our education in England is very narrow in terms of diversity, tending to celebrate and discuss a range of straight people but never anyone queer.
Before anyone says anything, I am not trying to say we should stop celebrating straight, cis-gender figures in history, but instead that we should improve our knowledge and include a diverse range of people.
Though it must be said it is quite hard to find prominent figures to talk about due to most being in hiding due to various laws making it illegal for them to be who they are. It wasn’t until 1967 that homosexuality was decriminalised, and even now we struggle with acceptance for the gay community.
Can you image that? Just existing is either illegal or makes others have a sudden hate towards you, simply for being yourself.
I may have other qualities as to why I should be disliked, but being LGBTQ+ is not one of them.
Despite a lot of historical figures being queer, we can assume a lot never came out. Nevertheless, there’s an array of people that deserve recognition, count how many you already knew: Stormé DeLarverie, Alan Turing, Marsha P Johnson, Mark Ashton, Oscar Wilde, Andy Warhol, Freddie Mercury (OK, we all know this one), and Leslie Cheung to name a few.
These international figures helped fight back against the stigma of being LGBTQ+ in one way or another, showing the world it’s ok to be who you want to be.
Look at that list again. Even if you have heard of them, would you confidently be able to explain their contributions, what they were like or who they were as a person?
Nor could I.
Even as someone who’s part of the LGBTQ+ community I wouldn’t be able to explain everything about these people, which is worrying as it isn’t a long list.
This is why it’s important for us to learn, and develop.
Marsha P Johnson and Stormé DeLarverie were prominent figures in the Stonewall demonstration and key in moving the LGBTQ+ movement forwards.
Alan Turing helped with the enigma code during WW2 helping Britain win the war, only to then be turned against by the country he had fought for just for being gay. Turing wasn’t pardoned until 2013.
I use the word pardoned cautiously here as to be pardoned implies you’ve committed a crime, but no moral person would call him a criminal for being attracted to the same gender.
One thing that truly baffles me is the idea that the teaching of LGBTQ+ history isn’t compulsory in English schools, it’s been heavily debated in recent years but no change has happened yet.
Since it’s LGBTQ+ history month, it’s a perfect time to discuss why we need to start embedding our history into our curriculum just like Scotland had in 2018.
The idea that people are against this is absurd, it’s a shared history. LGBTQ+ history IS British history, it is world history and therefore shouldn’t be ignored, and, no, despite the beliefs of a few, learning about it wont influence children into ‘turning gay’.
Learning about our history as an LGBTQ+ community would help to normalise what people consider different, building tolerance and acceptance to a country that claims it already has, but we can see hasn’t.
Whilst it is important to have a month dedicated to the heroes that had to fight twice as hard to be recognised, to push through the discrimination and prejudice and to celebrate what they’ve done for us as a community, I hope that we can one day make every month LGBTQ+ history month.
By George Bird