This year marks the 27-year we recognize October as LGBTQ+ History Month.
This honorary month was created in 1994 by Rodney Wilson, a high school history teacher in Missouri. In 1995, a resolution passed by the General Assembly of the National Education Association included LGBTQ+ History Month within a list of commemorative months. October was selected to coincide with National Coming Out Day—October 11th—which was already established, and the anniversary of the first march on Washington for gay and lesbian rights in 1979.
The month now also includes Spirit Day—October 20th—on which people around the country wear purple in support of LGBTQ youth; Ally Week—a week in which allies against LGBTQ+ bullying are celebrated; and the anniversary of 21-year-old Matthew Shepard’s murder—October 12, 1998—which led to the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act in 2009.
October is a month to recognize important moments in the history of LGBTQ+ individuals. It serves as a reminder to all of us the critical roles that LGBTQ+ individuals have contributed significantly to empower us to lead with equity and social justice. It also provides role models, build community, and serve as a civil rights statement about the contributions of the LGBTQ+ community to all of us.
Since 1969 for over 50 years, SCS’s mission has always been to advocate for and serve the LGBTQ+ community.
SCS is different from the mainstream group because of barriers that the LGBTQ+ community face. SCS closed our doors to accept new clients in March 2021, but as of June 2021, we have been able to once again enrolling new clients! The pandemic has increased the number of stressors for all of us, and there is also increased needs for mental health and substance use disorder services. Before the pandemic, LGBTQ+ individuals had already experienced higher disparities and higher rates of mental health challenges and substance use disorder due to more common experiences of stigma. These experiences made LGBTQ+ individuals more vulnerable to stress during the pandemic.
Despite such challenging time, I want to acknowledge the hard work and heart of our SCS staff who tirelessly keep our clients’ access to mental health and substance use disorder resources at our core. Thank you for your unwavering commitment! I also want to express my gratitude to the community partners, donors, funders, and stakeholders for the support. Because of you, we have been responsive and had the ability to pivot in order to maintain services for our community.
I hope that you take the time this month to look back at our history as a community and know that SCS’s history is LGBTQ+ History. You have a place in that history and in our future.
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Your contributions help SCS forge ahead in our mission to advance the social well-being and behavioral health of our Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender communities.