LGBTQ History

Do you know the history behind LGBT History Month?

Do you know the history behind LGBT History Month?
Marchers cheer Stonewall 20, at the 20th annual New York City Pride Parade, in 1990.Photo: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Collection, Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution

The month of October is LGBT History Month — but why is it that, who said it is, and how did it come about?

What we now call LGBT History Month began in 1994 as Lesbian and Gay History Month, though it quickly added bisexual to the name, then later switched to the LGBT acronym.

The event was the brainchild of Rodney Wilson, a high school teacher and the founder of the first chapter of GLSEN — the LGBTQ organization dedicated to students and educators — outside of the group’s home state of Massachusetts.

In the early 1990s, Wilson was teaching history and government at Mehlville High School in suburban St. Louis.

It was while teaching at Mehlville, while lecturing on the Holocaust that Wilson came out to his students, explaining that had he been in Germany during World War II, he would likely have been imprisoned and killed under the Third Reich.

This humble beginning led University of Missouri-St. Louis — with Wilson as the founder on the first coordinating committee — to host the initial Gay History Month Event. Wilson chose October as National Coming Out Day was already established at the 11th of October.

It also commemorated the anniversary of the National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights, the first of its kind, held on the 14th of October, 1979.

The event is now honored around the world, and is hosted by Equality Forum.

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