In October 1979, over 200,000 people marched in Washington D.C. In October 1987, over 500,000 people gathered and held the first public viewing of the NAMES Project AIDS Quilt. In order to commemorate and celebrate all of these days and promote the unity of gays, lesbians, transsexuals and bisexuals, October is recognized as National Gay and Lesbian Month.
National Gay and Lesbian Month is a recent addition to the heritage months with 2001 being its eighth annual year.
Why October? In addition to the previously mentioned dates of remembrance, one goal was to bring this lifestyle to the forefront without a negative stigma attached to it. Gays and lesbians wanted to allow school children to learn about their culture openly.
Since February and March are African-American’ and Women’s Heritage Months, respectively, and November, December and January are filled with holidays, October was chosen as the ideal month.
In January 1994, Rodney Wilson, a high school teacher in Missouri, was upset by the lack of gay/lesbian coverage in history. He organized community leaders and fellow teachers to educate the public and thus, started the widespread campaign, which is still continued.
In July of 1995, the National Education Association passed an amendment supporting Gay and Lesbian History Month. In honor of this month, Temple Student Friends of Gays and Lesbians (S-FLAG) has a multitude of events planned.
“We want all our activities to provide a welcoming environment for gay, lesbian and transgendered students, showing them that they have friends among the straight community at Temple. Also, we want to promote tolerance and support for all people on campus,” said Jessica White, secretary of the organization.
S-FLAG had a table out at this week’s Fall Fest, hoping to gain the interest of other students. Several students will take part in the AIDS walk on Oct. 21. Also, on Oct. 27, S-FLAG will hold their first “Multi-Sexual Soiree.” The soiree will be held in the dormitories for all interested students. There will activities including movies, games, and discussions on sexuality.
Temple Lambda Alliance, a safe space for gays, bisexuals, transsexuals and lesbians, is also gearing up for an eventful month. On Oct. 14, Lambda will participate in the Philadelphia Dyke March Open Meeting, and on Oct. 19 Lambda will host a fall dance.
As we have come to accept and praise African American’s and Women’s Heritage Months, it is now time to embrace the National Gay and Lesbian Month. Rather than shunning or avoiding the topic, it is a chance to learn more about our classmates, acquaintances and friends.