Beyond Stonewall: How to diversify your LGBTQ History Month coverage


Photo credit: James A. Molnar / Unsplash

For CWA Canada

Happy LGBTQ History Month! As a queer writer, I watch in dismay every October as the Stonewall riots are trotted out once again, and put on display. The Stonewall riots in 1969 were absolutely a pivotal event in queer resistance history. But it’s not the only event of significance.

There is no one queer history. The diversity of our community means that you have a multitude of histories to explore. Are you ready to go beyond Stonewall? Here are a few strategies to ensure that your coverage is relevant, engaging and captures the full diversity of queer history.

Try a Local History Angle

Most LGBTQ History Month coverage is national. Consider covering the queer history of a province, city, or even a specific pride parade.

Queer archives are a great place to start. Since the pandemic, many such organizations have beefed up their digital collections. You can find historical images, audio and video interviews, newspaper articles, and more. Start with the ArQuives and Transgender Archives, and see where your research takes you.

Don’t forget about regular archives. Start with Archives Canada, or their provincial networks to find the most relevant archive for your story.

Province- or city-based pride organizations often have their own archival material. When looking at larger organizations such as Pride Toronto, the Vancouver Pride Society and Fierté Montréal, ask them about local organizations. You may be surprised by how many small cities and towns now have their own pride organizations.

Connect the Past to the Present

Historical coverage gives you the opportunity to connect past events to current issues facing the queer community. Workplace discrimination, health inequity, physical violence and worsening mental health in queer youth are just a few of the issues that you can explore.

Start with national queer education and advocacy organizations like Egale Canada and the Canadian Centre for Gender and Sexual Diversity. Both organizations have reports, public awareness campaigns and programs that explore a wide range of past and current issues.

Take a cue from organizations that educate and advocate for specific issues or populations in the queer community.

Pride at Work Canada empowers employers to build queer-friendly workplaces.

Re: Searching for LGBTQ2S+ Health is based at the University of Toronto’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health, and focuses on queer health access, equity and research. Consider population-specific health organizations like the Black Coalition for AIDS Prevention and Asian Community AIDS Services.

Rainbow Railroad and Rainbow Refugee helps queer community members escape prosecution and violence in their countries of origin, and come to Canada.

Supporting our Youth supports the health and well-being of queer youth ages 29 and under in Toronto, while PFLAG Canada focuses on family support.

The Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto serves the queer community, including a variety of programs and support services. Former MPP Cheri DiNovo has played a strong role in Ontario’s queer history, and is now known as The Radical Reverend.

Tell the Story Behind the Letters

The L and the G in LGBTQ2SIA+ get a lot of coverage. Why not explore the history of lesser-known gender identities?

Try the Toronto Bisexual Network, which celebrated Bi Visibility Day on Sept. 23 with a wide variety of events and education activities. Two-Spirited People of Manitoba Inc. helps Indigenous LGBTQ/Two-Spirit people improve their lives.

Queer history still matters. October is an invitation for media professionals to tell the personal stories behind the history, and start a year-long conversation. Whose queer history will you tell this month?

(Anna-Liza Badaloo is a freelance writer and program consultant working at the intersection of health, environment and social justice. Anna-Liza is a member of the Canadian Freelance Guild.)

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