This February marks the ninth annual LGBT History Month. Just as Black History Month in October commemorates and celebrates the lives and achievements of black people throughout history, LGBT History Month is an important opportunity to reflect on the history of the lesbian, gay, bi and trans communities.
These months are a chance for us to remember the struggles that have occurred throughout history against oppression, prejudice and misunderstanding. Racism, homophobia and transphobia are still all too prevalent in society so these months must also be used to raise awareness of the continuing fight for liberation.
LGBT History Month is a chance for us to remember inspirational black LGBT people including Simon Nkoli, founder of Africa’s first black gay group the Saturday Group; Audre Lorde, who in her own words was a “black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet”; American civil rights activist James Baldwin; Bayard Rustin and many more.
The black LGBT communities are as diverse as any other. Sports stars like Olympian Nicola Adams, John Amaechi and Sheryl Swoopes; artists including playwright Rikki Beadle-Blair and singer Tracy Chapman; political activists Linda Bellos and Angela Davis; and celebrities like Skin of Skunk Anansie and television presenter Gok Wan prove that black LGBT people are a part of every facet of society.
It is no surprise that the unity between the black and LGBT communities has a long and proud history – from Harvey Milk aligning his struggle for LGBT equality to the civil rights struggles of the African-American community in America, to the unity between these communities in campaigning against fascism in the present day.
We must always remember that we have common enemies: the British National Party’s former director of publicity Mark Collett declared that Aids is a “friendly disease because blacks and gays have it”, and the English Defence League stand against all diversity in our multicultural society; rampaging through towns and cities attacking mosques and gay bars alike.
A staunch reminder of the necessity for our communities to work together are the London nailbombings that targeted the African Caribbean community in Brixton, the Asian community in Brick Lane, and the LGBT community in Soho. This is why we must make no concessions to homophobia or racism in our society.
We should welcome the fact that the LGBT community stood alongside the Muslim community in 2011 in opposing attempts by the EDL to march through Tower Hamlets under the guise of a Pride march. We should fully support initiatives like Love Music Hate Homophobia and Love Music Hate Racism. UK Black Pride has grown into one of the premier events of the LGBT calendar and is about celebrating our rich and diverse Black LGBT communities.
Our joint campaigning work leaves us much to be proud of and should be remembered in both Black History Month and LGBT History Month.
I welcome the joint work within the student movement of LGBT and black students’ campaigns in NUS, against our common forms of oppression. Such unity is, indeed, black and LGBT history in the making. I hope you’ll join me and others in celebrating LGBT History Month this February.
The Black Students’ Campaign is proud to join with the LGBT Campaign in calling for equal marriage. Last year we made a formal submission to the equal marriage consultation and we are delighted to see the groundswell of support for this measure from across society.
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the largest civil rights organisation in the US, has affirmed its support for equal marriage, viewing it as a civil right. It should be remembered that interracial marriage was illegal until the US Supreme Court declared anti-miscegenation (anti-interracial marriage) laws unconstitutional in 1967.
However, in Britain there is still lots more campaigning to do and we urge you to make your voice heard through contacting your MP and asking them to ‘come out for equal marriage’, joining the national lobby of Parliament and joining the Twitter ‘Thunderclap’!
Have a great LGBT History Month!