The LGBTQ community doesn't seem to have learnt the lessons of history.

There's nothing new about the dog-whistle politics of scapegoating minorities and marginalised people.

The LGBTQ community doesn't seem to have learnt the lessons of history.

We shouldn't be surprised but it still comes as a shock when systemic homophobia rears its head and LGBTQ people are targeted, discriminated against, and persecuted.

What's particularly concerning is how widespread this systemic homophobia appears to be - you don't have to look very hard to find examples all around the world.

What's going on in Russia?

Russia seems determined to be one of the worst places in the world for LGBTQ people.

Already persecuting queer people with their "anti-propaganda" laws, in recent days the country's Supreme Court has ruled that the “international LGBT public movement” - which doesn't exist - is extremist.

What that means in practice is that Russian authorities can target and persecute anyone identified as a queer person - on the basis that they are an "extremist".

Almost immediately following the court ruling, there have been reports of gay bars and clubs in Moscow being raided by police. According to social media reports, the police took down the names and identification documents of the men in these queer spaces.

Russian history is fairly complicated, but the current crackdown feels very reminiscent of Stalin's regime in the 1930s when homosexuality was criminalised and raids and detention were used to silence dissent and opposition.


What's going on in the US?

In theory, the politics of Russia and the US are diametrically opposed - they symbolically represent the poles of East versus West. However there seems to be an increasing alignment when it comes to persecution of LGBTQ people.

Christo-fascists in the US are using state and local legislatures to test the potential of bans on drag, sex education, and inclusive books.

One of the most extreme examples that we've seen recently was the city council of Murfreesboro - a town in Tennessee. A new ordinance for the town outlawed indecent sexual conduct and they categorised homosexuality as indecent sexual conduct. The ordinance outlawed homosexuality in Murfreesboro.

Following a legal challenge, the city council was forced to remove homosexuality from the categorisation of indecent sexual conduct, but it's a clear illustration that - in the minds of conservative lawmakers and religious leaders - words such as "indecency" and "obscenity" are intended to include all aspects of queer existence and the visibility of queer people.

The puritanical fervour that surrounds any discussion of sexuality in the US has its roots in the colonisation of North America in the 17th century, but more contemporary echoes can be found in the Lavender Scare of the 1940s and 1950s. Under the guise of "national security", anyone suspected of being homosexual was systemically removed from federal employment on the grounds of "sexual perversion" - homosexuality was explicitly equated with sexual perversion.

By the mid-1950s, about 20% of the US labour force were required to sign oaths attesting to their "moral purity" in order to keep their jobs.

Allegations of homosexuality were used to silence and sideline people that were critical of the government or federal authorities such as the FBI and CIA. Gay bars were kept under surveillance and guilt by association was often sufficient to end someone's career.


LGBTQ History Month

Our community's history obviously informs our lived experience every single day of the year, but having a dedicated moment where we focus on LGBTQ history helps us all to focus our energy on events and activities that celebrate and showcase key people and milestones from our past.

In the US and Canada, LGBTQ History Month is celebrated in October of each year to coincide with National Coming Out Day.

In the UK, the month of February is designated as LGBTQ History Month - this aligns with the 2003 abolition of Section 28, the government legislation that prevented teachers and schools from discussing LGBTQ topics.

Why have a queer history month?

For much of our history, we have had to hide who we are - concealing our identity and our sexuality - purely for self-preservation. In many parts of the world, queer people are still forced to live a closeted existence.

Dedicating a month to celebrating our history is a small step to try and rectify some of the harm that this has done.

One of the contributing causes of homophobia is ignorance – we need to show the world who LGBTQ people are, to celebrate the contribution that we make, and to demonstrate that we are an integral part of society.

How should I celebrate LGBTQ history month?

There’s no limit on how you can celebrate LGBTQ history month. Here’s a couple of suggestions.

Educate yourself: Read up on some of the key historical moments in our history. Make sure that you understand how the law has changed over time. Research some of the key people who have been leaders of our community.

Educate others: Share information with your wider networks. Use your social media to promote relevant information about LGBTQ history. Put up some posters at work. Let your friends and family know that history month is important to you.

Celebrate LGBTQ culture: Watch a queer film. Read a queer book. Go to a queer play. Connect with your queer friends. Set up a date or sort out an anonymous hook-up. In years gone by, these things weren’t possible or had to be hidden. By simply celebrating LGBTQ culture, you’re paying respect to the people who have fought for equality and the freedom to be ourselves.

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