LGBT History Month 2024: Here’s why the UK and US celebrate in different months

LGBT History Month: LGBTQ+ people wave placards during a protest

LGBT History Month 2024 is almost upon us in the UK, but the annual celebration of queer history and individuals is observed at different times of the year in different countries.

In the UK it’s celebrated in February each year, but in the US and Canada it takes place in October.

The UK iteration was started in 2005 and founded by the LGBTQ+ education charity Schools OUT UK. The charity states that the month is about “claiming our past”, “celebrating our present”, and “creating our future”, and is often used to promote LGBTQ education in schools

As part of helping educate people about LGBTQ+ history, Schools OUT UK provides free resources to help people celebrate.

The charity invites people to host their own events as part of the celebrations.

Why does LGBT History Month take place in February in the UK?

LGBT History Month is observed in February in the UK, with the first event taking place in 2005.

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Although created with similar goals in mind, the UK and US LGBT History Month were founded independently and more than a decade apart, meaning the dates do not coincide.

In the US, LGBT History Month was first celebrated in October 1994, when it was known as Lesbian and Gay History Month. It was founded by Rodney Wilson, who was the first openly gay public school teacher in Missouri. An equivalent event did not exist in the UK until almost 11 years later.

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What is the theme for 2024?

Every year, the UK celebration is marked with a theme.

The official theme for LGBT+ History Month 2024 is Medicine – #UnderTheScope, and aims to celebrate LGBTQ+ people’s “contribution to the field of medicine and healthcare both historically and today”.

LGBT+ History Month Logo
The official theme for this year’s LGBT+ History Month is ‘Medicine’. (Schools Out UK)

According to Schools Out UK, the theme will “showcase the amazing work of LGBT+ staff across the NHS and in other healthcare settings, in providing healthcare, especially during the pandemic.”

It will also shine “a light on the history of the LBGT+ community’s experience of receiving healthcare, which has been complicated, leaving people still facing health inequalities today”.

But there’s also Pride Month?

Yes, LGBT History Month is different to LGBT Pride Month, which is celebrated each June in the US and around the world.

LGBT History month is a chance to put the history of lesbian, gay, bi and trans people in the UK in the spotlight and learn their pasts.

In comparison, Pride Month, is about raising awareness and promoting acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community and issues they face.

How can you celebrate LGBT+ History Month?

There are a number of ways to celebrate this year. Not only will many local councils host events relating to the history and education of the LGBTQ+ community, there are also opportunities to take part it in your workplace, school or local area.

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Schools Out, The Proud Trust and Inclusive Employers provide resources to help people celebrate LGBT+ History Month meaningfully, such as sharing poetry, prose, plays, films, TV shows, books, games, tasks and educational information to help people engage with it.

Additionally, creating safe spaces for people who identify as LGBTQ+ to share their experiences, fears and hopes is helpful.

There are a number of events in London, where many of the bigger celebrations will be taking place.

Queer Britain is the UK’s only museum dedicated to LGBTQ+ history. (Queer Britain)

Queer Britain, the UK’s only LGBTQ+ museum, will be staging special events in addition to its permanent and evolving exhibition which is described as a “riot of voices, objects and images from the worlds of activism, art, culture and social history, covering over 100 years of queer life”.

Tate Modern, Greenwich’s National Maritime Museum and The British Museum are also hosting queer-themed tours while Bishopsgate Institute will be open twice in February to allow visitors to view its LGBTQ+ collective.

Raze Collective, a charity which develops queer performances, will also play host to a number of performance events across the country throughout the month and many LBGTQ+ bars, pubs and clubs across the country are likely to hold themed quizzes, comedy shows and club nights.

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