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Intersections of space and identity: a personal history of LGBT+ History Month

15 February 2021 | by Guest

To continue our ongoing coverage of LGBT+ History Month we present this timely piece by Zyra Evangelista from the Psychology of Sexualities Section.

One of the themes for this year’s LGBT+ History Month is Unsung People.

It’s a timely theme because as an LGBT+ person of colour in 2021, I started having mixed feelings about celebrating LGBT+ History Month.

I recall being fascinated when I first heard about LGBT History Month. This was several years ago, back when I began exploring being part of the LGBT+ community.

I like history so I was delighted when I found out that there was such a thing as LGBT history. I was excited to learn all about it and it felt good that the community I identified with had an acknowledged history.

As I became more involved in the LGBT+ community, both socially and academically, I enjoyed celebrating LGBT +History Month because it promoted LGBT+ awareness and visibility to the general public.

Over time, however, while I still appreciated how LGBT+ History Month championed LGBT+ recognition, I began developing mixed feelings about the content and narratives it spotlighted.

Although I strongly identified with being a part of the LGBT+ community, as a person of colour from Asia, I started feeling a disconnect as I wondered whether the history celebrated during LGBT+ History Month included me because it was rather white and west-centric.

This got me asking, which countries actually celebrated LGBT+ History Month?

The indefinite answer to this question led me to think about the interplay between identities and spaces

I realised that it’s a privilege to be in a cultural space where LGBT+ identities and their history are at least recognised, if not celebrated.

Without a doubt, finding a safe space to explore who I am has been invaluable to my LGBT+ identity development.

I suppose this was a key reason I became interested in researching how we can create safer and more inclusive spaces for LGBT+ people, not only in more progressive sociocultural contexts such as the UK but also in more conservative settings such as the Philippines.

As an LGBT+ person of colour, I still have mixed feelings toward LGBT+ History Month but it’s definitely nice to see small steps toward acknowledging Unsung People and their overlooked histories.

As we remember the sacrifices and progress that we have made toward LGBT+ equality, it’s worth noting that this progress is still limited to particular sections of the world and to specific sectors within our community.

It’s important to remember that there is so much more to be done for LGBT+ equality and it is my hope that the current initiatives toward better inclusion of LGBT+ people of colour and other underrepresented members of our community will translate to concrete changes.

In time, I hope that LGBT+ people of colour, LGBT+ people with disabilities, trans and non-binary people, can feel represented and included in the celebration of LGBT+ History Month.

Zyra Evangelista is completing a PhD in Psychology at the University of Glasgow.

Their PhD research focuses on creating safe and inclusive spaces for LGBT+ in higher education.

Zy is a Graduate Member of the BPS and the Psychology Postgraduate Affairs Group (PsyPAG) representative for the Psychology of Sexualities Section.


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