All the Bright Colors

Tarleton DEII celebrates LGBTQ+ History Month

Tarleton’s Division of Equity, Inclusion, and International Programs (DEII) is recognizing LGBTQ+ History Month for the month of October.

LGBTQ+ History Month was started in 1994 by a high school history teacher to raise awareness of the history of LGBTQ+ people and recognize the erasure of them in history.

“A lot of the times LGBTQ+ persons are eliminated from the narrative,” Student Development Specialist for the Office of Diversity, Inclusion, and International Programs (ODIIP), Emily VanKirk, said. 

While Pride Month is in June, VanKirk said that the reason Pride and LGBTQ+ History is celebrated differently is because they recognize separate focuses of the movement. 

“LGBTQ+ History Month allows us to not only recognize those who have made great accomplishments, but also draw attention to the harm that has been done to the community throughout time,” VanKirk said. “Pride Month is more of a celebration, while LGBTQ+ History Month is more educational.”

Pride Month focuses on the celebration of the Stonewall Uprisings in 1969, while LGBTQ+ History Month focuses on all the LGBTQ+ folks throughout history.

 “A lot of people think gay rights [movements] are over since the legaliziation of gay marriage, but it is still legal in some places to deny housing, fire someone, deny insurance for gender affirming healthcare, and deny adoption applications based on sexual orientation and gender,” VanKirk said. “Part of the reason why we talk about [LGBTQ+] history is because we still have work to do.” 

Starting in 2015, ODIIP started a whole month of LGBTQ+ History Month recognition. Before 2015, it was just support for the Gay-Straight Alliance’s (GSA) Pride event and Transgender Day of Remeberance. VanKirk was one of the individuals responsible for instituting a majority of the events for LGBTQ+ History Month in 2015, including the tree wrappings.

“A lot of people, especially the younger people who have grown up with the idea that it is okay to be gay, still lack the historical context to recognize why these movements are still important,” VanKirk said. “We still have children killing themselves because they are gay and are afraid of what their parents will say, we still have losing their jobs because their sexual orientation makes people uncomfortable, and we still have one of the highest rates of deaths amongst trans women of color.” 

The 9th annual Tarleton Pride Festival hosted by GSA will be held on Oct. 12 at 5 p.m. at the Dining Hall Patio and Rudder Way. GSA is also hosting the Transgender Day of Rememberance on Nov. 21 at 6 p.m. at the Hunewell Bandstands in Heritage Park. The annual LGBTQ+ ribbon tree wrappings done by ODIIP can be observed on the east side of the Barry B. Thompson Student Center. 

For more information about events during LGBTQ+ History Month, check out the Tarleton events calendar or TexanSync.