October is LGBT History Month in the United States; a whole month dedicated to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender culture and background. This month should not be confused with LGBT Pride Month, which is observed annually in June. Pride Month takes place earlier in the year, and is often complete with pride parades, typically in honor of the Stonewall Riots that occurred in Greenwich Village in 1969.
The celebration of the LGBT community during the month of October began in 1994 when Missouri high school teacher Rodney Wilson decided that there should be a month commemorating and educating LGBT history. He was the first openly gay K-12 teacher in Missouri. At University of Missouri-Saint Louis. The then-graduate student had organized an LGBT film festival, with movies showing every night in October, eventually spawning into the now-widely celebrated LGBT History Month. The month of celebration has since been endorsed by GLAAD, the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, the Human Rights Campaign, and the National Education Association, among others. As of 2006, Equality Forum, an international LGBT civil rights organization, assumed the responsibility for providing resources, promotion, and education.
The University has incredibly active LGBTQA life on campus. Annually, on National Coming Out Day, the University’s Center hosts an arts fair in front of the main building at One Pace Plaza. There, students of all orientations and identities can read their poetry and express themselves safely. This year, poet and author R.B. Rose read her works. Rose is based in Long Island and is the author of the book Asylum: From the Inside. She was an active member of the Stonewall riots on June 28, 1969 at the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village. Erin Furey, overseer of the LGBTQA Center at the University says that the point of the fair is to “center queer people’s voices, particularly marginalized queer people.”
The LGBTQA Center is a well known safe space for queer students that offers a number of weekly events for students to participate in. Among them is OUT to Lunch, a discussion group for LGBTQIA+ individuals that meets every Monday in the Center at 41 Park Row. It offers free food and a safe hangout space. On Tuesdays at 3:30, transgender students can enjoy a discussion group, T*Time. Non-monosexual individuals have groups, too: Just B You meets on Thursdays at 3:30. “We’ve really built a neat queer family of choice here,” Furey noted. She says the best way for LGBTQA students to get involved is to come to these events at the center.