OMA Celebrates LGBTQ+ History Month


LGBTQ+ History Month is celebrated during October annually. (Courtesy of Pia Fischetti/The Fordham Ram)

For the month of October, Fordham’s Office of Multicultural Affairs (OMA) is hosting events to celebrate LGBTQ+ History Month. LGBTQ+ History Month was started in 1994 by Rodney Wilson, a high school history teacher in Missouri.

Two important dates have always been celebrated during the month: National Coming Out Day on Oct. 11 and the anniversary of the first march by LGBTQ+ people in Washington, D.C. on Oct. 14. Since then, several other important dates have been added.

The third Thursday of each October is Spirit Day, an annual LGBTQ+ awareness day that is celebrated by wearing purple as a sign of support for queer youth.

Additionally, International Pronouns Day is observed on Oct. 21. The month of October also includes the tragic anniversary of Matthew Shepard’s murder on Oct. 12, 1998. Shepard was a gay student at the University of Wyoming, and five days prior to his death he was attacked and left tied to a fence in Laramie, Wyo. His parents, Judy and Dennis Shepard, began the Matthew Shepard Foundation after his death to help educate parents on how to help their children navigate sexuality and find acceptance. This tragedy also brought nationwide attention to hate crimes and the need for protective measures.

Eventually, these conversations led to the creation of Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.

OMA appointed a LGBTQ+ History Month committee of students to plan how they will celebrate and observe this year.

“The LGBTQ History committee is dedicated to celebrate and raise awareness about the history of LGBTQ rights and related civil rights movements. We have a month … of events planned to celebrate LGBTQ history, which can be found in our OMA newsletter, Instagram, and posters around both campuses,” said Sayema Abedin, GSAS ’23, a graduate intern on OMA, overseeing the committee.

One member of this committee is Dorothy Bogen, FCRH ’24, who is the Cultural Programming Coordinator (CPC) for the second year in a row.

She explained how celebrating LGBTQ+ History Month provides an important opportunity for Fordham to acknowledge and support its LGBTQ+ community, especially since the academic year is not in session during pride month.

“At a Catholic school, it can be easy for LGBTQ students to feel hesitant about expressing their identity, but I hope these events show there is a place for everyone on campus and the LGBTQ community is loud and proud at Fordham. And ultimately, I hope people have fun too. It’s supposed to be a celebration for a reason,” said Bogen.

Additionally, Abedin said that celebrating the month is a way to celebrate LGBTQ+ activists and the progress the community has made.

“The importance of having an LGBTQ history month is to recognize the impact the LGBTQ community and activists have had on a local, national, and international scale. Oftentimes, this aspect of one’s identity is disregarded or omitted, which is why we want to highlight and commemorate it with pride, so that others feel empowered by their identity,” said Abedin.

There are a variety of activities planned during which students can join in on this celebration. The month launched on Oct. 3 with an opening luncheon.

On Oct. 7, the committee decorated Alpha Lawn with various pride flags in their Flags on the Lawn event.
Abedin said that the Flags on the Lawn event was her favorite event of the month so far.

“We are giving students the opportunity to display their pride and commemorate the history behind pride flags by placing it into the lawn where everyone will see them. Students [were] also able to decorate their own flag if so they [wished], and we [handed] out pride flags ranging from progress pride, lesbian, bisexual, nonbinary, transgender, asexual flags and more. LGBTQ activists have fought long and hard for these flags, and we intend to showcase the colors to remember their hard earned achievements in the LGBTQ community,” said Abedin.

On Wednesday, Oct. 12, the committee is holding a spirituality discussion in Dealy 207 at 5 p.m. Then, on Friday, Oct. 21, the committee is collaborating with the Film Club for a screening of the movie “Jennifer’s Body” in Keating 3rd at 8 p.m.

The month of celebration will be concluded with a costume competition at the Halloween celebration on Friday, Oct. 28. More specifics on all of the events the committee is holding are available on their Instagram page, @fordhamlgbtq.
October is not the only time to celebrate LGBTQ+ people. Bisexual Awareness Week occurred from Sept. 16-23.  Solidarity Week, previously called Ally Week, and Transgender Awareness Week shortly follow LGBTQ+ History Month, occurring from Nov. 7-11 and 13-19, respectively.

In the spring, National LGBTQ+ Health Awareness Week occurs from Mar. 20-24 and, possibly the most known time of awareness, June is Pride Month. In October, OMA, with the help of their appointed committee, aims to provide the community with an opportunity to learn about and show their support for the LGBTQ+ community.