Why LGBT History Is Important by David Mixner
An enormous amount of energy went into Governor Jerry Brown’s office in California surrounding legislation insisting that the LGBT community’s struggle and history be included in text books and class room discussion. Happily, it was announced late Thursday that Brown had signed the FAIR Education Act (SB 48, Leno) into law. Congratulations to all involved in this great success, especially Senator Mark Leno, who authored the bill, and Governor Brown whose signature made the bill a reality.
A friend of mine today said he didn’t understand why it was so important and shouldn’t we just be included with everyone else. Well, he is right on the second point, we absolutely should be included with everyone else in the text books. And as to his first point, nothing could be more important.
There are many ways to kill people and one of the ways is to pretend that they never existed at all. Remove all traces of their journey and hope no one discovers their story. Often the issue of self-esteem among young LGBT citizens stems from the fact that they think our common denominator is just sexually based. They have no idea of their noble, proud and heroic traditions and actions of their pioneers.
LGBT history is filled with dramatic courage, dignity and determination and innovative and extraordinary leaders.
Unlike other communities that have struggled to preserve and create awareness about their history, we have seen systematic attempts to destroy and distort our journey. When we lost so many of our storytellers from AIDS, their surviving family members usually destroyed any trace that their family member was a LGBT citizen or had AIDS. Tens of thousands of stories of courage and heroism were lost. Boxes upon boxes of historical documents were burned. The shame of the families about their LGBT son or daughter made it even more difficult to keep our history intact.
In addition, we have organized groups now attempting to quash any positive role models, stories or epic struggles by this community. Some have linked us to Nazis and others insist we are nothing but pedophiles. Any positive portrayal of a community whose history is rich and full would threaten those lies.
If you feel like you have come out of nothing then you might feel you are nothing. If you think only sex is the basis of our journey then you will miss the remarkable stories that define this community as one of heroes, heroines and a very proud people.