LGBT History Month Turns 21

This October marks the 21st annual celebration of LGBT History Month. Missouri teacher Rodney Wilson conceived the idea of this designation in 1994, and in subsequent years, educators and community leaders endorsed the observance. The Philadelphia-based Equality Forum (Equality Forum) assumed responsibility for LGBT History Month in 2006.

Oct. 11 is National Coming Out Day (NCOD), which predates LGBT History Month by a few years. Dr. Robert Eichberg, his partner, William Gamble, and Jean O’Leary established NCOD in 1988 to celebrate the first anniversary of the Second National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights, which was on Oct. 11, 1987. The October date of these events influenced the choice of month for the commemoration of LGBT history.
On the 4s and the 9s
Since those heady days of the Stonewall Riots, LGBT rights have advanced steadily. Here are some highlights.
1969: The Stonewall Riots took place June 28, 1969, making 2014 the 45th anniversary. Four months after that bold action for gay liberation, Time magazine ran a cover story titled, “The Homosexual: Newly Visible, Newly Understood” on Oct. 31.
1979: Thirty-five years ago, activists gathered on the National Mall to commence the National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights on Oct. 14.
1984: On March 14, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit found that portions of an anti-gay conduct statute affecting teachers infringed on First Amendment rights in National Gay Task Force v. Board of Education of the City of Oklahoma City.
1994: On Dec. 6, the American Medical Association stated its opposition to reparative/conversion therapy with regard to homosexuality, as homosexuality is not a mental disorder.
1999. On Dec. 20, in Baker v. Vermont, the Vermont Supreme Court ordered legislators to craft a statute that would grant same-sex couples identical rights to those of married couples.
2004: Same-sex marriages commenced in Massachusetts on May 17, based on Goodridge v. Department of Public Health.
2009: President Barack Obama signed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act on Oct. 28. The law expanded the definition of federal hate crimes to include actions motivated by actual or perceived gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability.
Find LGBT icons online
Each day in October, the Equality Forum will unveil a new LGBT icon, featuring a short biography of each person and resources to learn more, at LGBT History Month. The website started naming the icons in 2006, and it now includes a searchable database of those who have been chosen.

The Gay and Lesbian Archive of Mid-America (GLAMA) recently received a donation of personal items from writer, director and performer David Wayne Reed. “The collection is comprised of material related to Reed’s work with Late Night Theatre (LNT), including production scripts, promotional posters, programs and lots of behind-the-scenes photos,” said Stuart Hinds, director of special collections at Miller Nichols Library, University of Missouri - Kansas City and a GLAMA co-founder. Items related to Reed’s post-LNT career are also included in the collection.

Local music producer and women’s music veteran Linda Wilson has also made a recent donation to GLAMA. For years, Wilson has been a key person in Women in the Arts, which puts on the National Women’s Music Festival. She also hosts WomanSong each week on KKFI-FM (90.1). Hinds said the Wilson collection is chock-full of stuff related to Willow Productions, her production company.

Wilson’s partner, Barbara Lea, has also made a donation to the archive. Lea was active in the early 1990s “intentional urban womyn’s community” in Midtown Kansas City, Mo., known as Womontown. The community was designed to be supportive and nurturing, with lesbian women living openly together and working to better their relationships, homes and neighborhood simultaneously.

To learn more about how GLAMA is preserving our local LGBT history, go to GLAMA.
Local events
• Out Here Now and UMKC LGBTQIA Programs and Services present a free advance screening of Pride, the new feature film based on the true story of gay and lesbian activists who came to the aid of striking mineworkers in Great Britain in 1984. Showtime is 7 p.m. Oct. 8 at the 

Photo by Kenny Eliason on Unsplash

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