BRYAN, TX — Equality, understanding, and acceptance is what LGBTQ History Month is all about.
The LGBTQ community has a long history dating back to 1978, when a group of human rights advocates noticed the need for representation and fought for their right to form lesbian and gay student groups on campuses.
The community has evolved over time. To create inclusiveness, advocates say it is important to understand where it all began.
”The LGBT community over time has always included a lot of identities, but what we continue to realize is that we don’t give enough notice to those other identities, so the alphabet has grown,” said Katrina Stewart, the executive director for the Brazos Valley Pride Community Center.
To gain the knowledge of one's history provides self-awareness. Stewart says it also gives a sense of self-worth, which allows others to see the worth of one another within a community.
”We’re remembering our elders of all colors, of all races, of all orientations and identities,” Stewart said. “And we’re remembering our historic moments as well that made us a community and give us that sense of belonging."
Major historic moments like in 1986 when lesbian gay rights advocates fought for the rights of lesbians and gays in Texas. The moments are then used for education.
”We do provide direct training, so if there’s an agency, an organization, a business that wants to know how better to reach their LGBTQ employees,” said Stewart. “And I have done that for the Brazos Valley Health Department, for police officers, for businesses."
Education is critical to a community that is continuously growing and looking to provide inclusion on all levels. During this time, organizations like the LGBTQ+ Pride Center at Texas A&M have found creative ways to provide a safe space for their members.
”During the pandemic, we’ve provided folks with ways to interact and find others, so where as we no longer have a physical safe space, we can find you sort of that safe space person,” said Frances Jackson, coordinator of the LGBTQ+ Pride Center at Texas A&M Office of Student Life.
Texas A&M has provided this safe space for over a decade. COVID-19 has not gotten in the way of their mission. Instead, it's been a motivation to continue to help others.
”The struggles I went through and the struggles our youth went through, that’s what became a motivating factor for me. If I can do what I can today to help make things a little bit easier to create an atmosphere where everyone is welcomed,” said Stewart.
Today, milestones are continuously being made on all forums. On Wednesday, Pope Francis endorsed same-sex civil unions, becoming the first pope to ever do so.