Facts About LGBT+ History Month In The UK
LGBT+ people have a long history of making incredible contributions to the UK. From King James VI of Scotland and I of England, whose romantic feelings for men are well-documented, to the Ladies of Llangollen whose home became a cultural hotspot in Regency society to Justin Fashanu who broke boundaries as the first professional footballer to publicly share that he was gay – there is no shortage of fascinating and inspiring stories to be found if you know where to look.
However, those stories have often been missing from the history books, which could give the impression that LGBT+ people have only come along in recent years. Those who identify as LGBT+ might struggle to find historical figures they relate to, leading them to feel isolated and uncertain about their future. The truth is that LGBT+ people have always been here, in every society and time period around the world. By telling the stories of LGBT+ figures from history, we hope to spread the message that these identities aren’t going anywhere, and that LGBT+ people are valued and vital members of society. Explore The Proud Trust’s “People Like Me” project and discover the stories of LGBT+ people in music, film, sport, literature, politics and more.
If [LGBT+ history] was taught in schools it would show that LGBT+ people are just a part of everyday life and have been present throughout history but just haven been able to show it...It gives you someone to look up to or admire, and gives other people the chance to see that queer people can be successful and are just as much of a part of everyday society. Theo, a young person who has been supported by The Proud Trust’s mentoring program
LGBT+ History Month was founded in the UK by Paul Patrick and Professor Emeritus Sue Sanders. Paul and Sue are the founders of Schools OUT, an LGBT+ education charity and they spearheaded the first UK LGBT+ History Month in February 2005. From then on, the movement has grown, with more and more schools taking part every year. It has even expanded beyond schools, with people from all walks of life marking the month in their own way. It’s now an event for everyone to learn, reflect and expand their horizons.
What’s the difference between Pride Month and LGBT+ History Month?
LGBT+ Pride Month, which is celebrated every year in June, is a time for the community to join together, usually at in-person festivals featuring a pride march, to highlight LGBT+ causes. The Pride movement was born from the Stonewall riots of 1969 and the early gay liberation movement, and as such from its inception has had a strong political drive. It is different from LGBT+ History Month because it usually focuses on the present and the future of the community rather than the past.
LGBT+ History Month 2024 Theme: Medicine Under the ‘Scope
Past themes have included everything from film and television to social justice. In 2024, the theme which has been set by Schools OUT is Medicine – #UnderTheScope. This is a fantastic opportunity to explore the contribution of LGBT+ people to advances in medical science, but also to reflect on the community’s relationship with the world of medicine, such as the history of the AIDS crisis, the medical treatment of trans people and LGBT+ people’s contributions to the NHS.
It’s also an important theme because LGBT+ people are underrepresented in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) careers more widely. The campaigning group STEM Women reports that this shortfall could be as much as 20%. Therefore, we are excited to take this opportunity this LGBT+ History Month to highlight some of the unsung LGBT+ heroes of science and medicine, to show young people that there are diverse role models who they can aspire to emulate.
Official Badge Design
Each year, SchoolsOUT holds a competition to design the official badge of LGBT+ history month, attracting entries from all corners of the UK. 2024’s winning entry was designed by Alex, who attends one of the Proud Trust’s youth groups during a group session. Alex’s design features the Progress Pride Flag in the shape of a heart framed by a stethoscope and has been made into a brilliant badge which will be worn by thousands of people across the country in February.
I’ve learnt that there are lots of other young gay people like me, and I’ve learnt that I am who I am and that’s okay, and I’ve learnt there are lots of different queer people from all backgrounds. Alex, LGBT+ History Month badge design competition winner, on what he’s learned from attending his local Proud Trust youth group
How to Celebrate LGBT+ History Month
Celebrating at School
The Proud Trust has produced a free downloadable pack for schools to celebrate LGBT+ History Month, including four engaging lesson plans developed by our expert Training and Education team. The lesson plans are written with the National Curriculum in mind, with activities which can tie in to History, Relationships and Sex Education, Media Studies and English lessons. You can learn how to deliver the most effective LGBT+ History Month lessons at our online training course on 24th January. If you are passionate about supporting LGBT+ young people in your school, why not take this as your cue to sign up for the Rainbow Flag Award and commit to making your school a safe, supportive and inclusive space for all students.
Celebrating at Work
In recent years, the celebration of LGBT+ History Month has spread beyond schools and is now marked in many workplaces. Possible activities could include hosting a film night for a movie focused on an LGBT+ person from history, starting an LGBT+ book club or fundraising for an LGBT+ charity such as The Proud Trust. You could also take this opportunity to invest in training sessions for your staff, such as the online and in-person courses offered by The Proud Trust.
Inspiring and Informative LGBT+ History Books
This is a collection of books which touch on themes of healthcare, biology and medicine from an LGBT+ perspective.
Important note: Due to the nature of many of these histories, these books are not suitable for all ages. If you are an adult who is thinking of giving any of these books to a young person, you may wish to review them yourself first.
- And the Band Played On: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic, br Randy Shilts
- Between Certain Death and a Possible Future: Queer Writing on Growing up with the AIDS Crisis, by Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore
- Bodies and Barriers: Queer Activists on Health, edited by Adrian Shanker
- Crisis And Care: Queer Activist Responses to a Global Pandemic, edited by Adrian Shanker
- Evolution’s Rainbow: Diversity, Gender, and Sexuality in Nature and People, by Joan Roughgarden
- How to Survive a Plague: The Story of How Activists and Scientists Tamed AIDS, by David France
- Moving Politics: Emotion and ACT UP’s Fight against AIDS, by Deborah B Gould
- Patient Zero and the Making of the AIDS Epidemic, by Richard A.McKay
- Plague Years: A doctor’s journey through the AIDS crisis, by Ross A. Slotten, M.D.
- Testosterone: The Story of the Hormone that Dominates and Divides Us, by Carole Hooven
- The Other Pandemic: An AIDS Memoir Book, by Lynn Curlee
- The Remedy: Queer and Trans Voices in Health and Health Care, edited by Zena Sharman
- Trans America: A Counter-History, by Barry Reay
- Transgender History (Second Edition): The Roots of Today’s Revolution, by Susan Stryker
- Trans Medicine: The Emergence and Practice of Treating Gender, by Stef M. Shuster
- What Is the AIDS Crisis?, by Nico Medina
- ‘Curing Queers’: Mental nurses and their patients, 1935-1975, by Tommy Dickinson
The library at The Proud Place, Manchester’s LGBT+ community centre