ALL OUR YESTERDAYS
EVERY FEBRUARY THE LGBT HISTORY MONTH CELEBRATES THE LIVES AND ACHIEVEMENTS OF LGBT PEOPLE. JULIE BREMNER OF THE HISTORY MONTH TAKES A LOOK AT THIS YEAR’S THEME
February celebrates Gay History Month
The LGBT History Month takes place every year in February and is a series of events throughout the UK celebrating the lives and achievements of the LGBT community. The idea came from School’s Out!, a campaigning organisation of LGBT people involved in education, and partly took its inspiration from the USA where a LGBT History Month has been celebrated since 1994.
Each year LGBT History Month focuses on a specific subject area from the school curriculum. 2013 was dedicated to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) and we held our pre-launch party at Bletchley Park to study and engage students and guests with the work of, amongst others, Alan Turing, the mathematician who broke the Enigma code. Past pre-launches have been held at the Royal Courts of Justice, the Oval, and the British Museum.
2014’s LGBT History Month is dedicated to Music. This year we are celebrating four LGBT musicians. The “Faces of ’14” are composers Ethel Smyth, Benjamin Britten and Angela Morley, and singer Bessie Smith.
We know there are many more well-known and popular LGBT people in the music industry but we chose them, as learning more about them will enable us to recognise the richness of contribution, the variety of skill and the dedication and passion represented by these four people who have not always received the attention and celebration they deserve.
Obviously given that this is the year of Britten’s 100th and Ethel Smyth’s 70th anniversaries, there will be mainstream celebrations of their work, more for the former than the latter, we guess.
However, we wanted to make sure that these LGBT musicians were celebrated for who they were as well as what they did. For who they were did clearly inspire their work and is crucial for us to know to both understand their work, and to understand the richness of human experience. We are particularly indebted to both Black and LGBT people in the music world, a fact that is frequently neglected and we are the poorer for it. Such invisibility perpetuates racism and homo/transphobia.
We hope that you will be inspired to explore how you might celebrate LGBT history Month this February 2014. Go to lgbthistorymonth.org.uk for information on the “Faces of ‘14”, a calendar of events where you can put your own events, and discover what is happening.
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP: ETHEL SMYTH; BENJAMIN BRITTEN; BESSIE SMITH ( PHOTO CARL VAN VECHTEN)