Introducing LGBT+ History Month
Rev’d Delyth Liddell is a chaplain at Cardiff University and a minister at the Gathering, an LGBT church in Cardiff. She is also a member of the Inclusive Church Strategy Implementation Group.
LGBT+ History Month is an annual celebration of the lives of LGBT+ people and aims to educate and raise awareness of the challenges that the LGBT+ community face. What began in the US in 1994 is now celebrated in many other countries around the world.
In the UK, it has been celebrated in February since 2005, beginning as a Schools Out UK project to coincide with the anniversary of the abolition of Section 28 in 2003, the legislation that stated that local authorities and schools were not allowed to ‘intentionally promote homosexuality or publish material with the intention of promoting homosexuality’. This legislation did irreparable damage to young LGBT+ people who were taught that being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender was shameful and something to be hidden away. The impact of that teaching still resonates in many LGBT+ people’s thinking and psyche.
The organisation 'LGBTPlus History Month' that facilitates the month in the UK, brings together free resources, especially designed for schools, to educate on prejudice with the aim, stated in their strapline, of “Claiming our past. Celebrating our present. Creating our future.” However, the month is not just celebrated in schools. Many organisations are now enabling the LGBT+ people within their organisations to be visible and proud especially during the month of February, and events are being held to celebrate the month in many towns and cities in the UK.
The Methodist Church and LGBT+ History Month
This is the first time that the Methodist Church has focused on LGBT+ History Month. It is a good year to begin, since the theme of LGBT+ History Month this year is, ‘body, mind and spirit’, something that as Christians we are all too aware of. This holistic view of who we are in God, made complete in body, mind and spirit through the sanctification of the God of peace, and blameless in Christ (as 1 Thessalonians 5 verse 23 reminds us) is something we all strive for in our Christian journeys of faith. A reminder that this grace of God is available to each one of us, whatever our sexuality or gender, is powerful indeed.
Throughout this month, we will be hearing stories from Methodists around the Connexion, how they have supported the LGBT+ community at Pride parades and how our Methodist schools are raising awareness of LGBT+ history, celebrating the present and creating the future. We will be looking at the history of LGBT+ rights within the Methodist Church with a special focus on the Conference 1993 Resolutions on Human Sexuality that ‘recognises, affirms and celebrates the participation and ministry of lesbians and gay men in the Church’. We will recognise, affirm and celebrate the gifts and talents of those LGBT+ members of the Methodist Church as they share their stories and prayers; sharing too in their pain as we hear a personal story about the transphobia that many of our transgender members face on a daily basis. There will also be a challenge to us, in a theology of inclusion that seeks to bring Justice, Dignity and Solidarity to all.
LGBT+ History Month is a great opportunity to enable our LGBT+ members to be visible and proud of their identity as LGBT+ Christians within the Methodist Church, in body, mind and spirit.
Rev Delyth Liddell
LGBT+ is the acronym used by LGBT+ History Month. ‘LGBT’ stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender, with the ‘+’ encompassing other acronyms including Queer, Intersex and Allies amongst other titles relating to sexuality and gender identity.