In its sixth year commemorating LGBT History Month online, Philadelphia-based Equality Forum (EF) will unveil a new icon each day in October at lgbthistorymonth.com. The page for each honoree will feature text and video biographies, images and more. The total number of icons has grown to 186, and this year the website includes a searchable database for those interested in learning more about the important achievements of the icons.
Inspired by pre-Stonewall gay and lesbian Independence Hall demonstrators, Equality Forum (then called PrideFest Philadelphia) began presenting substantive educational and historically relevant programs in the early 1990s. Over the last two decades, it has grown into an international LGBT civil rights organization. In addition to being the caretaker for LGBT History Month, EF has produced three documentary films, hosts its annual, weeklong Equality Forum and manages several other high-impact initiatives.
Rodney Wilson, a Missouri high school teacher, came up with the idea for LGBT History Month in 1994. Teachers and community leaders chose October as the celebratory month, as it fell during the school year and already contained the existing tradition of National Coming Out Day (Oct. 11). According to Equality Forum executive director Malcolm Lazin, EF assumed responsibility for LGBT History Month in 2006 and brought it to the Web as an educational resource for teachers, students, the larger LGBT community, its allies and the press.
Lazin noted that LGBT persons are the only minority group that is not formally taught about its own history. His organization aims to help fill in the historical gaps and shine light on LGBT achievements. Equality Forum collaborates with GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network) for educational content, and students and educators can share their exhibit photos online. Site visitors can take weekly trivia quizzes and the final Rainbow Challenge.
Equality Forum solicits icon nominations each year, and LGBT History Month co-chairs Katherine Sender, a professor at Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania, and Kenji Yoshino, a professor at the New York University School of Law, review them and recommend a final slate of names. In 2010, around 700 organizations collaborated with the site and the website itself tallied about six million hits.
A Few LGBT Icons of Local Provenance
excerpted from lgbthistorymonth.com
A political commentator, author and editor, Keith Boykin was born and spent part of his childhood in St. Louis. He graduated from Dartmouth University with a B.A. in government. He attended Harvard Law School and worked in Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign, later working as special assistant to the president and liaison to the LGBT community. Boykin was executive director of the National Black Lesbian and Gay Leadership Forum