LGBTIQ+ history month

LGBTIQ+ history month

2 October 2020

October is LGBTIQ+ History Month – an opportunity to celebrate the lives and achievements of queer people throughout history.

For LGBTIQ+ history month this year, Orygen has spoken with young people about the historical figures they think deserve greater recognition.


By Jennifer, 25.

Why is LGBTIQ+ history month important to you?

Because misinformation and omission of LGBTIQ+ folks in historical narratives only harms society. LGBTIQ+ have always existed as long as humans have, no one should be told that they don’t exist in history. In fact, it’s a rich history of survival, struggle, fight for civil rights that shaped society as we know it, and many stories of love despite all odds. Queer excellence exists and history should include the whole story.

Who is the historical figure you’d like to bring awareness to?

The historical figure that I would love to raise awareness about is the Chinese deity; Guanyin (觀音), known as "God/dess of Mercy”, a trans and non-binary deity of hope and mercy, and the listener of prayers and wishes. 

What should people know about Guanyin?

Guanyin is known as the most compassionate and forgiving of all the world’s great gods. In Asia – notably China, Tibet, Japan, Vietnam, Bhutan and Korea – they are believed to be the hearer of prayers and mercy.

There are many differing origin stories this deity. Some describe her as a princess who escaped hell and cured her dying father who sent her for execution; others an ordinary person who followed the path of wisdom.

Guanyin is known, after numerous struggles and incarnations, to have reached enlightenment and nirvana. But on the threshold of total bliss, their kind heart chose instead to remain on earth to help others.

Guanyin, transcends gender and appears in whatever form is necessary to help people in need: sometimes female, sometimes male, sometimes androgynous.

Why is Guanyin important to you?

Because there exists a non-binary deity that moves beyond gender, and has been celebrated and adorned throughout centuries for hope and mercy. Guanyin embodies the noblest characteristics of both ‘female’ (yin) and ‘male’ (yang).

They show that queerness exists even in the highest places.

Alan Turing

By Alex, 17.

Why is LGBTIQ+ history month important to you?

LGBTIQ+ History Month is important to me because it allows us to look back on a history that people have tried to erase. There is representation in our history, there is identity in it too, belonging. It is proof that we’ve always existed and continue to exist, despite those around us who tried to stop it.

Who is the historical figure you’d like to bring awareness to?

Alan Turing, who was a British mathematician and logician, who made major contributions to mathematics, cryptanalysis, logic, philosophy, and mathematical biology, as well as new areas later named computer science, cognitive science, artificial intelligence and artificial life.

What should people know about Alan Turing?

The Turing machine formed the basis of fundamental logical principles of the digital computer. Turing also worked for the British Government Code and Cypher School at Bletchley Park, where he worked on cracking the Enigma code – the radio communications used by German military during World War II. He and others designed a code-breaking machine known as the Bombe. Turing also devised the first systematic method for breaking messages encrypted by the sophisticated German cipher machine.

Why is Alan Turing important to you?

Born in 1912, Turing was alive in a time in which homosexuality was a criminal offence in England, and as such was convicted of “gross indecency” in March 1952. Due to having a criminal record, Turing could no longer work for government organisations and bodies.

Turing has been virtually erased from history, despite his amazing accomplishments and mathematical advancements, simply because he was gay.

LGBTIQ+ History Month is important because it allows us to remember people like Turing, who should have a legacy, but don’t, because of who they are.