How CA Teachers Can Get Kids to Care About LGBT History

Many of my older gay friends have a thorn in their side when it comes to today’s young’ns and our lack of knowledge about LGBT history. I’ve been schooled by my share of silver fox and am well-versed in queer lore, but I can see where they’re coming from.

Maybe kids just haven’t been given the chance yet:  Public schools are so busy teaching Intelligent Design, we doubt they have time for lessons on Harvey Milk’s activism and the inspiration for Walt Whitman’s love poetry. Now that society is more accepting of queer culture—and at least one state has mandated its inclusion in school curricula—  that could all change.

Brushing up on homo history doesn’t mean you have to sit through some drowsy lecture, though—some young people are actually taking their education into their own hands! The YouTube channel LezzIsMore offers first-person reports on lesbian and gay days of yore, broken down by decade. The smart young women who vlog for the site hail from Australia, so you’ll get a more international (and gynocentric) take on our hidden past. Nothin’ wrong with that, mate!

Closer to home, the Los Angeles-based Roots of Equality, whose small membership hovers around age 30, created Lavender Los Angeles: Revealing L.A’s Lesbian, Gay Bisexual & Transgender Pre-Stonewall History, a 2010 LGBT exhibit recently published as a book by Arcadia Publishing. Hopefully educators in California will find a copy in their inbox come September.

In the below clip, taken at the book’s June launch party at the Black Cat, veteran activist Alexei Romanoff discusses Harry Hayes, the birth of the Advocate and early gay protest marches in pre-gay liberation L.A. It’s heady stuff.


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  • dbillings

    Harry Hay, not Hayes.

  • Jeff

    Funny that an article about gay history calls Harry Hay Harry ‘Hayes’

  • WillBFair

    I think it’s better strategy to talk about our contributions to world culture, from Leonardo to Michealangelo to Alan Turing to Baron Von Stueben to Tinky Winky. Actually, Hollywood should be doing dramas on these characters at top speed. Glee is fine PR for us, but our real heroes would be a thousand times better.
    Personally, I have zero interest in our B listers. We all know that history too well, or should. If we don’t, the community is not doing their job. If we’ve fought tooth and claw for recongnition in the public square only to put forward our scruffy necks, all I can say is, Mary please, pour me a double.

  • Tom

    Thanks Tanner. I think the new education law in CA will go far to changing minds and even educating our own community as you point out. Great article.

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