5 Catalysts We Should All Be Talking About In LGBT History Month
as February has been and gone, we thought a reflection on LGBT history month was more than needed.
The month of february celebrates those that have come before us to bring about the change needed for us to live out our true authentic selves in the twenty first century.
The theme for this Februarys LGBT history month was Catalysts; referencing activists that stepped up, were brave and helped to move the social stance of the LGBT community in the right direction in one way or another.
So without further ado, here are five names you should be more than well aware of.
Marsha P. Johnson
Often referred to as the Rosa Parkes of the LGBT community, Marsha P. Johnson was iconic in her own right. hence why her legacy still lives on today.
A key figure in the Stonewall Riots movement of June 1969, legend has it that Johnson was the first person to stones at the police, igniting a riots that began a snowball effect.
This manifested worldwide in the form of LGBT prides, pride months and the right to marry.
Johnson’s involvement in the LGBT movement, her willingness to be unapologetic ally herself, despite her inability to gain access to social housing or mental health care is a testament to her character and the type of person she was at such a crucial time in LGBT history.
Johnson’s body was found in the Hudson River in 1992.
Her death was ruled as suicide, but those who knew her disagreed.
An ally to the LGBT community, Alice Nkom is a human rights lawyer and LGBTQ+ activist from Cameroon.
Homsexuality still to this day is criminalized in Cameroon, so Nkom’s work is crucial to bringing about social change.
Police officers are known in present day to entrap LGBTQ+ members through text messages and physically abuse those they believe to be gay.
Although Nkmon identifies as heterosexual. her work is dedicated to fighting for the right of Cameroon's LGBT community having founded the Association for the Defence of Homosexuality in 2003.
The work she does puts her in severe danger however she remains undeterred and claims that whilst these threats are still being made, it is a clear indication that the fight for equality must continue.
We love you Alice!
After three unsuccessful campaigns, Harvey Milk would finally be elected to the San Fransisco county board of supervisors.
This was revolutionary as Milk would be the first openly gay elected official in the United States.
He knew what this would entail and regularly received hate mail and abuse when in public.
His courage, passion and sense of justice allowed him to pass multiple laws involving the LGBT community, including a 1978 law protecting the LGBT community from being fired without reason.
His position in office was short lived as he was assassinated and shot five times in 1978 by a Police Officer he regularly disagreed with surrounding gay rights
Having known the danger he was in, Milk filmed a tape that would only be displayed should he be killed.
The tape left instructions on what to do should this event occur and explained that should he die, that the bullet that killed him be used as ammunition to destroy every closet door.
Milk is remembered as a someone who set the ball rolling for social change for the LGBT and change the lives of many in his state.
He is ultimately remembered for going against the grain and standing up for what he believed was right with nothing but courage and passion.
An avid lover of books from a young age and coincidentally, also a lover of girls; Barbara Gittings was a lady on a mission.
When she had to chance to leave her family and attend Northwestern University, she did everything in her power to research up on that of her homosexual feelings.
However, what she found was not what she was hoping for; articles upon articles from medical professionals declaring homosexuality as an illness or perversion.
From this point on Gittings became engrossed in these readings, so much so that she neglected her university assignments and eventually dropped out of school. What would be considered a nightmare to most was just the beginning for Gittings; an activist was born.
Gittings embarked on a journey from this point on and spent much of her working life being an advocate for the LGBT community with a mission to correct the lies she had found in the library.
She travelled across america meeting many experts in the field in support of LGBT rights and spoke to many gay and lesbian organisations to gather as much information as possible.
She was eventually introduced to the daughters of bilitis (DOB), a lesbian organisation based in San Fransisco
Gittings became an avid member of the DOB and two years later launched the New York City branch, becoming the largest branch in the country. By 1963 she was publishing for lesbian magazine The Ladder, with a mission to document LGBT activist protests and call out professionals and their findings on homosexuality.
She hosted numerous debated with these professionals, arguing that homosexuality was a social and cultural problem and not a scientific one.
Higher powers were significantly alarmed by the direction of the way she had taken the magazine and when she was late with an issue some three years later, they used this against her to remove her as editor.
Gittings was an activist through and through and conituned to push the boundaries of LGBT acceptance. In 1971, she challenged the American Psychiactric Association to remove homosexuality from their list of disorders and in the same year, hosted a kissing booth at a conference with the American Library Association entitled ‘Hug-a-homosexual; Free Kisses’.
Barbara Gittings died in 2007 aged 74. In an interview in 1999, she concluded her career as a gay activist as a vital, gratifying and often fun one.
“As a teenager, I had to struggle alone to learn about myself and what it meant to be gay. Now for 48 years I’ve had the satisfaction of working with other gay people all across the country to get the bigots off our backs, to oil the closet door hinges, to change prejudiced hearts and minds, and to show that gay love is good for us and for the rest of the world too. It’s hard work — but it’s vital, and it’s gratifying, and it’s often fun!”
One of the most recognised names particularly within the LGBTQ+ community, Ellen Degeneres is a lady who has had a huge impact on the integration of homosexuality into mainstream society.
Recent polls declared Ellen did more to influence American’s attitude to gay rights than any other celebrity; including that of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton
Ellen’s LGBT story has not been all plain sailing.
In 1997 she came out as gay.
A year later her sitcom show Ellen, which her character also came out as gay, was cancelled due to a huge decline in ratings.
Her box office film Mr.Wrong was met with awful reviews and ultimately bombed along with her sitcom in 1998 entitled the Ellen Show.
For the next five years, Ellen hit rock bottom having believed she would never work again.
She had no money and no upcoming work and having only recently come out, had not truly embraced her true authentic self. The next few years would see her embrace her true authentic individuality in the form of what she wore, how her hair was styled and how she wanted to portray herself to the world.
With her new authentic self fully formed, Ellen launched the Ellen Degeneres show in 2003 and has since gone from strength to strength.
It has gone on to be the longest running day time tv show of all time and in total has won thirty Emmy awards.
Ellen herself has won more People’s Choice Awards than anybody ever.
She believes that her authenticity connects with people regardless of whether or not they are an advocate for her life.
Ellen has used fame as a platform to encourage human compassion and support the worthy causes of many charities, organizations and individuals on her famous talk show.
She is forever a voice of the LGBTQ+ community and her presence as one of the best in the entertainment history puts so much positive light on to the kind-hearted and compassionate nature of the LGBT community.