The fight for LGBT equality and freedom has been ongoing since social reformer; Jeremy Bentham wrote the first known argument for homosexual law reform in England around 1785. Fast forward to 233 years later, LGBT civil rights movements are shaking down injustice and discrimination all over the world. Even though the global LGBT fight still has a long way to go (particularly here in Africa), it’s important that we recognize how far the fight for the right to love and live your truth has come and LGBT awareness days help us achieve that.
Here’s a full list of all the LGBT awareness dates and what they represent;
National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (February 7th): National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NBHAAD) is an HIV testing and treatment community mobilization initiative for Blacks in the United States and across the Diaspora. There are four specific focal points: Get Educated, Get Tested, Get Involved, and Get Treated.
National GLBT Heath Awareness Week (Last Week of March): The Annual LGBT Health Awareness Week, an event that promotes the unique health and wellness needs of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community. Sponsored by the National Coalition for LGBT Health.
International Transgender Day of Visibility (March 31st): International Transgender Day of Visibility is an annual holiday occurring on March 31 dedicated to celebrating transgender people and raising awareness of discrimination faced by transgender people worldwide. The holiday was founded by Michigan-based transgender activist Rachel Crandall in 2009 as a reaction to the lack of LGBT holidays celebrating transgender people, citing the frustration that the only well-known transgender-centered holiday was the Transgender Day of Remembrance which mourned the loss of transgender people to hate crimes, but did not acknowledge and celebrate living members of the transgender community.
Day of Silence (April 17th): The Day of Silence is the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network’s (GLSEN) annual day of action to protest the bullying and harassment of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) students and their supporters. Students take a day-long vow of silence to symbolically represent the silencing of LGBT students and their supporters.
International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (May 17th): International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO or IDAHOT) are widely recognized as an essential feature in the international LGBT rights calendar. In the 9th edition, in 2013, commemorations took place in almost 120 countries, in all world regions. The day aims to coordinate international events that raise awareness of LGBT rights violations and stimulate interest in LGBT rights work worldwide. IDAHO’s date was chosen to commemorate the decision to remove homosexuality from the International Classification of Diseases of the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1990. The original founders of the International Day Against Homophobia (or “IDAHO”), established the IDAHO Committee to co-ordinate grass-roots actions in different countries, to promote the day and to lobby for official recognition of May 17.
Harvey Milk Day (May 22nd): Harvey Milk Day is organized by the Harvey Milk Foundation and celebrated each year held on May 22 in memory of Harvey Milk, a gay rights activist assassinated in 1978.
LGBTQ Pride (June): Gay pride or LGBT pride is the positive stance against discrimination and violence toward lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people to promote their self-affirmation, dignity, equality rights, increase their visibility as a social group, build community, and celebrate sexual diversity and gender variance. Pride, as opposed to shame and social stigma, is the predominant outlook that bolsters most LGBT rights movements throughout the world. Pride has lent its name to LGBT-themed organizations, institutes, foundations, book titles, periodicals and even a cable TV station and the Pride Library. Ranging from solemn to carnivalesque, pride events are typically held during LGBT Pride Month or some other period that commemorates a turning point in a country’s LGBT history, for example Moscow Pride in May for the anniversary of Russia’s 1993 decriminalization of homosexuality. Some pride events include LGBT pride parades and marches, rallies, commemorations, community days, dance parties, and large festivals, such as Sydney Mardi Gras, which spans several weeks.
Stonewall Riots Anniversary (June 27th): The Stonewall riots were a series of spontaneous, violent demonstrations by members of the gay community against a police raid that took place in the early morning hours of June 28, 1969, at the Stonewall Inn in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of New York City. They are widely considered to constitute the single most important event leading to the gay liberation movement and the modern fight for gay and lesbian rights in the United States.
International Drag Day (July 16th): International Drag Day is to celebrate the greatness and wonder that is Drag Artists from every corner of the planet. Created by Adam Stewart in 2009, International Drag Day was set up to give Drag Artists a well-deserved chance to shine and be celebrated for everything they give to gay life and culture.
Celebrate Bisexuality Day (September 23rd): Celebrate Bisexuality Day is observed on September 23 by members of the bisexual community and their supporters. This day is a call for the bisexual community, their friends and supporters to recognize and celebrate bisexuality, bisexual history, bisexual community and culture, and all the bisexual people in their lives. First observed in 1999, Celebrate Bisexuality Day is the brainchild of three United States bisexual rights activists: Wendy Curry of Maine, Michael Page of Florida, and Gigi Raven Wilbur of Texas.
LGBTQ History Month (October): LGBT History Month is a month-long annual observance of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender history, and the history of the gay rights and related civil rights movements. It is observed during October in the United States, to include National Coming Out Day on October 11. In the United Kingdom, it is observed during February, to coincide with a major celebration of the 2005 abolition of Section 28.
National Coming Out Day (October 11th): National Coming Out Day (NCOD) is an internationally observed civil awareness day celebrating individuals who publicly identify as a gender or sexual minority. The day is observed annually by members of the LGBT community and allies on October 11. NCOD was founded in 1988 by Robert Eichberg, a psychologist from New Mexico and founder of the personal growth workshop, The Experience, and Jean O’Leary, an openly gay political leader from Los Angeles and then head of the National Gay Rights Advocates. The date of October 11 was chosen because it was the anniversary of the 1987 National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights.
Spirit Day (October 17th): In early October 2010, Canadian teenager Brittany McMillan promulgated the observance of a new commemoration called Spirit Day, the first observance of which took place on October 20, 2010; it now however takes place on October 17. On this day people wear the color purple to show support for LGBT youth who are victims of bullying. Promoted by GLAAD, many Hollywood celebrities wore purple on this day to show their support of this cause, and many websites added a prominent purple shade to their design. The name Spirit Day comes from the purple stripe of the Rainbow flag, whose creator Gilbert Baker defined it as “representing ‘spirit’”. The observance was inaugurated in response to a rash of widely publicized bullying-related suicides of gay school students in 2010, including that of Tyler Clementi. More than 1.6 million Facebook users signed up for the event globally.
Asexuality Awareness Week (October – November- dates vary every year): Asexual Awareness Week is an international campaign that seeks to educate about asexual, aromantic, demisexual, and grey-asexual experiences and to create materials that are accessible to our community and our allies around the world.
Intersex Awareness Day (October 26): Intersex Awareness Day is an internationally observed civil awareness day designed to highlight the challenges faced by intersex people. The event marks the first public demonstration by intersex people in North America. On October 26, 1996, intersex activists from Intersex Society of North America (carrying the sign “Hermaphrodites With Attitude”) and allies from Transexual Menace demonstrated in Boston, outside the venue where the American Academy of Pediatrics was holding its annual conference. Intersex Awareness Day is an international day of grass-roots action to end shame, secrecy and unwanted genital cosmetic surgeries on intersex children.
Transgender Day of Remembrance (November 20TH): Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDoR), which occurs annually on 20 November, is a day to memorialize those who have been killed as a result of transphobia, or the hatred or fear of transgender and gender non-conforming people, and acts to bring attention to the continued violence endured by the transgender community The Transgender Day of Remembrance was founded in 1998 by Gwendolyn Ann Smith, a trans woman who is a graphic designer, columnist, and activist, to memorialize the murder of Rita Hester in Allston, Massachusetts. Since its inception, TDoR has been held annually on 20 November, and has slowly evolved from the web-based project started by Smith into an international day of action. In 2010, TDoR was observed in over 185 cities throughout more than 20 countries.
World AIDS Day (December 1st): World AIDS Day, observed on 1 December every year, is dedicated to raising awareness of the AIDS pandemic caused by the spread of HIV infection. Government and health officials, non-governmental organizations and individuals around the world observe the day, often with education on AIDS prevention and control.
The fight for LGBT rights and equality must go and that is why this dates are important so we can draw strength and inspiration for the labours of our heroes past.