These are Sussex students’ favourite moments in LGBTQ+ history

From Ancient Greece to Gaga, here are some lesser known bits of queer history

With LGBT History Month coming to an end, we thought it would be a perfect time to ask Sussex students about their personal favourite, and lesser-known moments in LGBTQ+ history. From eccentric homoerotic artists to badass ancient Greek warriors, there’s something for everyone. Everything mentioned in this article is just a brief overview of these events so if anything takes your interest we’d highly recommend investigating further.

Tom of Finland

Sussex student Anni told The Sussex Tab: “Obviously because I’m Finnish I have to mention Tom of Finland”. Tom was known for highly masculine homoerotic art, and lived a very interesting life. Born in 1920, Tom began drawing erotic art in his teens but left it behind when he was conscripted to serve in the Winter War, where he held the rank of second lieutenant.

After the war Tom lived in Helsinki and studied advertising while continuing his art career. His art picked up traction in the 50s but he achieved mainstream appeal and international renown in the 70s, all the while battling censorship, before passing away in 1991. His work is NSFW to say the least, so google at your own discretion.

Licence and registration please

A secret Greek language

Another student told us about Kaliarda, which is a secret language spoken by the gay community in Greece since the 1940s and draws from French, Italian and Turkish. It’s barely spoken these days but a secret language is undeniably cool.

Now for one of our favourites, it’s no secret that the ancient Greeks were wonderfully gay and that was exemplified in the Sacred Band of Thebes. The Band was the elite military force of the Theban army, comprised entirely of 150 homosexual couples. The perhaps morbid idea behind this was that a solider would perform better on the battlefield if they were protecting their lover.

However twisted, this philosophy was highly successful, with the sacred band winning numerous battles, even decisively defeating the Spartans at the battle of Leuctra. The band was eventually defeated by Philip of Macedon and his son, Alexander (you’ve probably heard of him). It’s noted that they fought so valiantly Philip wept at the sight of their corpses. I think we can all agree these guys need their own action movie.

A fearsome Theban warrior – not historically accurate

Everyone’s favourite Lady Gaga

Ending with something a bit more recent, Filippos told us his favourite moment in LGBT history was when Lady Gaga did this. Russia’s government is notoriously homophobic, so in 2012 when Gaga chose to openly speak up about gay rights on stage in Moscow she risked being arrested. No matter what you think of her music, this is undeniably iconic.

We hope you enjoyed LGBT History Month and let us know some of your favourite moments!