Earlier this year  I was fortunate to come across an article by Lois Beckett on how the streets of Los Angeles, which played host to many events in LGBTQ+ history, are being gentrified, and these are my words, the LGBTQ+ community is being airbrushed out of the areas.
So why should this matter? Well, there is an adage often repeated, “if we have no history, we don’t exist”. Lewis was accompanied on this journey by Roland Palencia, a gay activist who has lived and organised in the area for decades. Palencia suddenly shouted “Where is the plaque? The plaque was right here!” The plaque did commemorate the Mattachine Society (one of the first ‘US’ homophile groups to openly advocate acceptance.)
“It’s erasure. Erasure of our history,” Palencia says, “This is where it all began, at least in modern times.”
The journey carried on, and more and more items of importance in relation to the LGBTQ+ society had been removed or hidden due to the gentrification of the area.
Airbrushing out of history
When Hitler came to power, he sought to eradicate any group(s) who did not conform to his ideal of purity and history. Today in the USA (and other countries) they first try to eradicate our history by the removal of LGBTQ+ books from schools, libraries etc. It also shows often in local towns and villages but the fact that local LGBTQ+ people are not recognised for their contribution to society.
This practice is being adopted piecemeal in certain schools and is expanding to plays with gay characters not being allowed to be produced in schools and colleges.
The Conservative government has to be continuously dragged to court(s) or harangued in the media (if they publish) to get LGBTQ+ legislation on the statute books (we are still waiting for the promised transgender updates) including the promised law changes for conversion therapy. History shows that Conversion Therapy (CT) was used from the late 19th century because psychiatrists and doctors had begun to label same-sex desire in medical terms—and then started looking for ways to reverse it.
The damage that Conversion Therapy causes is well documented so what I wonder is this government’s problem? Indeed, we continuously get paid lip service with notes of apologies because it happened – just look at the apology regarding Alan Turing.
[Please note that in this editor’s opinion, ‘apologies are only a mark in history, they don’t remove the stain or embarrassment or pain that occurred, or indeed prevent the same mistake(s) from being done again’].
The LGBTQ+ community, I believe, is not looking for special treatment; what it is looking for is parity with all elements of society.
Don’t let us become another airbrushing out of history statistic!
Research and Links
- Gay Conversion Therapy’s Disturbing 19th-Century Origins
- Searching for Silver Lake: the radical neighborhood that changed gay America
- The History of LGBT (now LGBTQ+) in Northern Ireland
Have you got a history to tell us about?
If you have a history to tell us about for our community, then please contact us (ACOMSDave) by comment or using our contact form or by getting in touch with https://lgbthistoryni.com/