Why LGBTQ+ History Is So Important - NCS Grad, Caitlin

ncs 7/06/2017

Whether it's ‘Paris is Burning’, Alan Turing, L.G.S.M or the Stonewall Riots, LGBT+ people remain unsung, important characters at the centre of so much history.

Now that gay marriage is legalised and there’s more LGBT representation in the media, it’s important to remember the people who put their lives on the line and played a crucial role in advocating for freedom and equality for the LGBT+ community.

As a member of the LGBT+ community, I’ve been guilty of forgetting the history of how far we’ve come, but every time it's brought up I remember its importance and massive impact. One of the biggest events in LGBT+ history was Stonewall – a spontaneous riot against the police in Greenwich Village, Manhattan on 28 July 1969. This was due to the constant raids that kept occurring at the club, because it was technically illegal for alcohol to be served to anyone that was gay. It’s widely thought of as one of the most important events for gay liberation, and opened a conversation to begin the fight for gay rights. This was furthered by ‘Paris Is Burning’ – a documentary made in 1990 that discusses the ball scene of drag – the impact it had on gay culture and the future of drag, as well as the full range of human experience.

In the UK, L.G.S.M became a key movement to show how the gay community has taken a stand and helped others. L.G.S.M was formed during the miner's strike in 1984, and stands for 'Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners’, and also created the splinter group 'Lesbians Against Pit Closures'. These groups supported the miners, mostly by working with a mining village and raised money to deliver food and warmth to villages. They also hosted the 'Pits and Perverts' concert – one of the first events created for both a gay and a straight audience. There was a film made about this group in 2014 called 'Pride', which follows some of the members of the group. 'The Imitation Game' is another impactful film that came out in the last few years, which tells the story of Alan Turing. Turing worked for the Government Code and Cypher School in the hopes of decoding German ciphers, and it’s been estimated that this work shortened the war by approximately two years saving fourteen million lives. He was prosecuted in 1952 for homosexual acts, and died in 1954 as a result of treatment attempts they believed would ‘turn’ him straight. He received a posthumous pardon from the Queen in 2013 as an apology for how he was treated. 

These events became key parts of the gay rights movement, altering lives of so many people for years to come. Even though it’s in the past, keep talking about the history behind the LGBT+ community. It’s important to remember the past and acknowledge the inspiring people who’ve made our world a much better place to live in.