February is LGBTQ history month, dedicated to celebrating the history, achievements and diversity of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community, as well as raising awareness of issues still impacting queer people and campaigning for change. LGBTQ History Month was introduced in the UK in 2005, in the wake of the abolition of Section 28 (a nightmarish piece of legislation which stated that schools and local authorities were not allowed to “promote homosexuality” – which, in practice, meant “no supporting LGBTQ kids.”) Thankfully we’ve come a long way since then, but there’s still a long way to go.
Whether you’re a member of the community or a straight cis ally, there are many meaningful ways you can celebrate LGBTQ History Month this February.
Call out phobic behaviour when you see it
If it’s safe for you to do so, don’t let homophobia, biphobia or transphobia go unchallenged. This is particularly important if you’re cisgender and heterosexual and want to be an ally to your queer and trans siblings.
You don’t have to deliver a whole lecture on why what the person said or did was wrong (though you can!) A simple “dude, not cool!” delivered in a firm tone can go a long way. Other possible phrases to try are “that’s homophobic, don’t say that again” or, if you think their intentions were harmless, “I’m sure you didn’t know this, but that word is considered transphobic. A different expression you might want to use is…”
Use the correct pronouns for your trans and non-binary friends, even when they’re not around – and call out others who don’t.
If you witness bullying happen, step in and say something in the moment. That could be as direct as telling the bully to back off, or you could simply strike up a conversation with the person being victimised until the bully gets bored and goes away.
When you stand up for us, your queer and trans friends are listening. We’re also listening when you DON’T.
And if you’re in a position of authority, make it clear that phobic behaviour will not be tolerated and that LGBTQ+ people will be supported in your classroom, workplace, church or organisation. Saying you’re an ally isn’t enough. Stand up and be one.
Get all your queer friends together for a night out
Do you have a local LGBTQ+ club or bar? Getting all your queer and trans friends together for a night out could be super fun! Get dressed up and hit the dance-floor together in your finest and gayest outfits. Queer-specific venues are brilliant because you know it’s safe to be yourself there.
If you don’t have a specifically LGBTQ+ club in your town, you could head to the nearest major city where you’ll certainly find one. Many have special events on during History Month, so check out the listings.
If clubbing doesn’t sound good to you, how about some quiet drinks in a friendly pub, hitting the local board-game cafe, or even just having a few people over for a movie night? The importance isn’t so much in what you do, as in getting your queer friends together to support and celebrate each other.
Consume media by LGBTQ+ creators
There are literally thousands of incredible LGBTQ+ writers, musicians, actors, film-makers and artists out there. Make this the month you read only queer authors, check out a new exhibition by an LGBTQ+ artist, watch movies and TV shows where trans actors get to play trans characters, or check out some new music.
There are far too many incredible options out there to offer recommendations that will suit everyone. Ask your friends what they’ve loved this year! If you’re stuck, this list is a great place to start for books: The 20 Best LGBTQ+ Books of 2019, and this is an incredible list of LGBTQ+ movies to get you started: The 50 best gay movies – the most essential LGBT+ films ever made
Treat yourself to a Pride-themed sex toy
What’s the point of having all these wonderful colour schemes on our pride flags if we don’t make sex toys out of them!? Pride-themed sex toys seem to be all the rage at the moment, and treating yourself to one can be a fun and sexy way to celebrate your awesome, queer, sexy self this History Month.
Godemiche’s Pride Ambit range come in seven different flag options: LGBTQ, Bisexual, Transgender, Genderqueer, Polysexual, Pansexual and Lesbian (and they’re all available in glittery versions too!) As an added bonus, £10 from every Pride Ambit sold goes to support an LGBTQ+ charity.
Donate to an LGBTQ+ charity
If you want to do some good and help LGBTQ+ people quickly, donating to a charity is one of the absolute best ways to do that. Some great options include the Albert Kennedy Trust (who support homeless LGBTQ+ youth,) Mind LGBTQ (who support queer people struggling with mental health issues,) or Mermaids (who support trans, genderqueer and gender-nonconfirming young people and their families.)
How do you plan to celebrate LGBTQ History Month? Tell us about it in the comments or tweet us!