October is here, and with it begins LGBTQIA+ History Month! Queer history buffs lovingly consider this time ‘Fall Pride,’ and strive to boost educational content throughout the month.
Our history isn’t widely taught (yet!), and there remains an often unexplored intersection between the LGBTQIA+ community and communities of faith. By looking to those who came before us, we can draw strength from where we’ve been, and each site named here allows you to do just that!
A visual representation of Queer/Faith history comes from the LGBTQ Religious Archive Network’s Shower of Stoles. Originally created to provide a tangible show of the harm done from a place of homophobia within the Presbyterian Church, this project contains the stories of people who, because of their sexual orientation or sometimes simply their allyship, were rendered unable to continue following their call to ministry. Some had to remain closeted for the sake of staying in service to their communities of faith. Many stoles were submitted anonymously, some submitted in memory of lives lost, and each tells in part the story of those who were denied the opportunity to serve.
Also maintained by the LGBTQ Religious Archives Network is a gallery of profiles, which still accepts submissions today. More than 550 Religious Leaders who advocated for and educated those around them in the message of inclusion and acceptance for all are highlighted through biographical sketches. The accomplishments and obstacles overcome are incredibly inspiring, and worth taking the time to read! While Reformed history makers aren’t specifically named there yet, the site will let you know how you can nominate and name them to be included for future readers.
In a similar vein, the Outwords Archive keeps both biographical sketches and longer video interviews with a myriad of contemporary figures connected to the movement for LGBTQIA+ rights. The Religion subgroup contains 6 pages of figures of many backgrounds, and the larger site allows you to also browse by topic, by activist group, by race and by many identities from the acronym. Note that in these interviews there is a wide range of opinions shared that are sometimes controversial, but each person included in the archive is speaking from their own experience.
Each day of October, the website named LGBTQ History Month will highlight a nominated figure from the halls of history in a brief video, starting with Hans Christian Andersen, the fairy tale author whose story ‘The Little Mermaid’ is currently the subject of our national conversation about representation. This year’s honorees also include the late bell hooks, a celebrated Black Feminist author and educator; Kate Brown, the openly bisexual Governor of the State of Oregon; and Jazz Jennings, a young advocate for transgender rights.
Finally, in 2016 the National Park Service published in paper and online the first ever official LGBTQ Heritage Theme Study, taking a deep look at LGBTQIA+ American History. The timelines and articles highlight the intersections with Native American, Indigenous, Black, Latin American and Asian American and Pacific Islander history, as well as breaking down different ways LGBTQIA+ people have contributed to American culture in the areas of business and commerce, art, music, athletics and religion.
This October, we hope you find inspiration and strength in the halls of queer history!