LGBT History Month in Tempe

By Bobby Beverly

On Tuesday, 10/23, the Tempe satellite group had its first session run by new program coordinators Mickale Burns and myself. The objective for the night was to commemorate LGBT history month by recognizing trailblazers, past and present, in the fight for equal rights. After introductions and icebreakers, Mickale and I gave the youth time to observe portraits of influential members of our community which we had displayed “gallery-style” around the room. We challenged the youth to guess who each person was based on their image and some clues about their contribution. While people like Ellen and Melissa Ethridge were easy to identify, as they are part of the current gay culture, those who had come before, like Gore Vidal and James Baldwin, were not as familiar. Some of the youth found this exercise challenging, as they struggled to name even single member of the community we had highlighted. However, the volunteers and coordinators re-assured them that while it would have been impressive if they had come to the group knowing who every one of these people were, the idea was to expose them to figures that have had impact on their lives without their knowing it. After observing the photographs we reconvened and discussed who these people were and their impact on the movement. The message we wanted the youth to take home was that there was a transitional theme here of paving the way for those who come after you. As often was the case with many of these people, they did not get to enjoy the benefits of their contribution, but we do and it is important to remember this.