As October rolls around, so does LGBTQIA+ History Month. Many might think that since the LGBTQIA+ community already observes June as Pride Month, why would another month be needed to celebrate? The month of October, however, is important to recognize for many reasons. Recognizing the history behind the LGBTQIA+ community is important. It is only thanks to the people that came before us that all people will be able to be out and open as their true selves.
LGBTQIA+ History is rich and important, and, often, many people aren’t aware of the history behind the community at all. There is a vast amount of history that got the community to be where it is today. Activists, and in particular, transgender women of color, are the reason we are able to have pride. Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera are good examples of this as two transgender women of color, both of whom helped organize and lead the Stonewall Riots. Another example of an activist that helped the LGBTIA+ community was Keith Haring. A gay street artist from New York, Haring’s art was a pivotal piece in the awareness of the LGBTQIA+ community, as well as the fight against the AIDS crisis. It is only thanks to activists like these that we are able to have queer spaces today.
The Rainbow Center, UConn’s center for the LGBTQIA+ community and their allies, plays a big part in helping recognize the importance of this month. Founded in 1998, the Rainbow Center has been supporting the LGBTQIA+ community at UConn for 23 years. The center provides events, and a safe space to be openly queer at the university. The importance of the center does not go unnoticed.
“LGBT History month is necessary because it highlights all that those in the community have done before us. Especially in the case of people of color. It allows us to give thanks, and recognize the work they’ve done to get us where we are today. Similarly, LGBT history month has allowed the Rainbow Center to be what it is today, and to give a safe space to a marginalized community that is often ostracized from the rest of society” Makayla, a student worker at the Rainbow Center said. This is true on all fronts.
The work that the Rainbow Center does allows for the LGBTQIA+ community at UConn to feel accepted and safe. Similarly, it also gives LGBTQIA+ allies learning opportunities to support their queer friends and family.
Rowan, another student worker at the Rainbow Center, commented, “LGBT history is important to not just members of the community, but to their allies as well. It gives them an opportunity to learn.”
Their comment could not be more true. The Rainbow Center plays a key role in the acceptance and celebration of the queer community at UConn. LGBT History Month runs through October, but the recognition of LGBTQIA+ History does not have to stop there. By remembering the history behind the community throughout the year, we are able to better understand the work that was done to get us where we are today and help us move forward to protect LGBTQIA+ rights for all.