February is LGBT+ History Month and we thought it was prime time to honour some LGBT+ writers who have made history. We’ve brought together some literary greats to start you off, as it’s impossible to cover all of LGBT+ history at once.
We’ll start with a note on why we need LGBT+ History Month.
Throughout history, people who haven’t fitted into sexual or gender norms have been erased and persecuted. LGBT+ History Month gives us space to honour their contribution to society. It reminds us that LGBT+ people (whether they identified that way or not) have always existed. And, with one in five LGBT+ people in the UK experiencing a hate crime every year (Stonewall), it is a moment to find comfort in the work of those who came before us, who spoke up and who lived with love and joy in spite of the difficult circumstances in which they lived.
A quick note: our current categories for sexual identity (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, asexual, non-binary etc.) have not always been defined in the way that we define them. For this reason, some people would argue that we can’t really say that writers from the 19th century or before identified as LGBT+. However, we can still recognise ‘queer’ behaviour: for example, they or their characters may have loved people of the same gender as them, or lived as a different gender to the one assigned to them at birth, and so on. With that in mind… let’s celebrate some gay poets!