Forget Valentine’s day – enjoy 29 days of queer celebrations with LGBT history month!

There’s a reason behind the rainbow flags all over Cambridge

If you're slightly confused by seeing rainbow flags everywhere, you're not alone. But don't worry, it's not June yet – Pride month is still a long way off. February is LGBT History Month!

What's this all about?

LGBT history month has been around since 2005, having emerged after Section 28 (a UK law outlawing the discussion of homosexuality in schools) was abolished in 2003. In Cambridge, we mainly see it everyday as lots of rainbow flags outside colleges and on the tops of buildings.

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Caius' rainbow flag

Many of the colleges will be flying a rainbow flag at some points or for the whole duration of this month. Even though it's just a flag, it means a lot to see these colours outside our colleges. It shows we are welcomed and appreciated, not just tolerated but embraced. It shows we are not grudgingly accepted but that our institution is proud of us exactly as we are.

On Saturday, LGBT History month kicked off with a ‘bring your own flag’ event outside the Guildhall. February is set to continue with more outdoor celebrations, performances, exhibitions, socials, talks and parties throughout. Personally, I’ll be looking out for the LGBTQ+ writing competition, shows such as Angels in America and Maurice, and a ‘Queer in Space – LGBTQ+ characters in sci-fi and fantasy’ talk in Heffers, but there are countless talks, films and events for everyone of all tastes going on.

A comprehensive programme of the celebrations can be found here.

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There's more to February than celebrations, however.

Throughout history, many significant LGBT figures have been actively erased or their stories sidelined.

We're taught about other struggles at school. Almost all of us know the story of the suffragettes and how women got the vote. Most of us know about Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr and his famous speech, the end of segregation and the Civil Rights movement in the USA.

But if you ask me to name a famous historical LGBT person, I’d be hard pressed to mention more than Alan Turing or Marsha P. Johnson. I certainly couldn’t tell you about the LGBT rights movement. History month is a time for celebration, but it’s also important to teach ourselves and each other the histories we were denied – our histories.

This is a time to discover how rich and multifaceted our history really is. To reflect on the narratives of lesser-heard identities; queer people of colour; intersections between race, religion, class, age, disability and sexuality; trans and non-binary people.

This LGBT+ history month, I’m going to make an effort to learn more about the history of the community I belong to, and I encourage you to do the same. We all owe it to those who came before us.

All photos author's own.