"As members of the LGBTQ community, we deeply respect and admire the trailblazers who came before us, and countless people who have fought for our rights and equality, whose shoulders we stand on."
It’s October and that means – it’s time to celebrate LGBTQ History Month!
Created in 1994 by high school history teacher Rodney Wilson, this month celebrates the history and achievements of our lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community. October was chosen to coincide with the already-established National Coming Out Day that falls each October 11, and the anniversary of the first March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights in 1979.
As of today, this month includes International Lesbian Day, Spirit Day that focuses on anti-bullying efforts, International Pronouns Day, Asexual Awareness Week, and Intersex Awareness Day. This month celebrates important milestones like achieving marriage equality, the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, the expansion of the federal Hate Crimes Law to include actual or perceived gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability, the repeal of the ban on transgender people to serve in the U.S. military, employment and housing protections for LGBTQ people, advancements in the fight against HIV, and more.
As members of the LGBTQ community, we deeply respect and admire the trailblazers who came before us, and countless people who have fought for our rights and equality, whose shoulders we stand on; leaders like Marsha P. Johnson, Bayard Rustin, Larry Kramer, and Harvey Milk. Today, we see ourselves represented in the media by trailblazers like Laverne Cox, Anderson Cooper, Ru Paul, and Elliot Page. We celebrate local LGBTQ elected leaders, including Senate President Pro Tempore Toni Atkins, Mayor Todd Gloria, Assemblymember Chris Ward, San Diego Council President Jennifer Campbell, San Diego Council President Pro Temp Stephen Whitburn, Chula Vista Councilmember Steve Padilla, and many others serving throughout the County.
We also celebrate The Center’s own history from our humble beginnings in 1971, as a phone in a closet, a lifeline to those in need, to our present-day work as one of the largest LGBTQ organizations in the country, providing programs and services, and advocacy for the full diversity of the San Diego LGBTQ community, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, transgender, nonbinary, immigrant, and HIV communities. We want to uplift our own trailblazers, The Center's founders and early community leaders, like Jess Jessop, the first Executive Director, and our early AIDS activists.
And no reflection of The Center's history would be complete without uplifting early Executive Director Jeri Dilno, and our longest serving CEO, Dr. Delores Jacobs who, for 17 years, brought exemplary leadership and vision, creating the foundation of programs and services that continue today, including the Sunburst Youth Housing Project, Latin@ Services, Project TRANS, #BeTheGeneration, and others, along with countless collaborations and partnerships that have created Our Center, one of the largest LGBTQ organizations in the country. Last year, The Center provided nearly 90,000 direct service visits to San Diego community members, and through its events, activities, and advocacy, touched the lives of thousands more. For more Center history, please visit our website.
This month, we celebrate every member of our incredible San Diego LGBTQ community, our national and local leaders, out-and-proud icons, and those who live their lives with pride and bravery every day - breaking barriers, changing hearts and minds, and creating community. You make a better world for all of us! This month we celebrate our past and look forward with hope and pride for a world where all LGBTQ people are welcomed and valued, safe and thriving.
Happy LGBTQ History Month!