Magazine News & Features Do you know your LGBT history? By Hadley | @wordsbyhadley One Oscar winner seems to have attracted the attention of many people for his winning speech. It wasn’t Sam Smith’s musical accomplishments that had us all taking to social media, but his lack of historical knowledge. In his speech, Smith stated that there were no gay Oscar winners prior to him winning and that he was dedicating his award to the LGBT community. His intentions were in the right place, yet that didn’t seem to silence the overwhelming number of tweeters who criticised Smith for his lack of LGBT history awareness. So why has this slip-up struck a nerve with so many of us? Each February we celebrate LGBT History Month, an important event in the LGBT calendar, dedicated to celebrating the achievements of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans men and women. For many of us, this is an ideal opportunity to gain perspective on how much society has changed thanks to inspirational and pioneering LGBT activists, who fought tirelessly to restore freedoms that we now take for granted. Interestingly, we seem very aware that we owe a lot to the LGBT people who came before our time, but how many of you can confidently say you know enough about LGBT history? My suspicions are that many, myself included, don’t truly appreciate the full extent of LGBT history. For instance, I wonder if I were to ask an irate tweeter about the names of all LGBT Oscar winners, would they know them all? Or even if they knew every single one of them, they might not be able to tell me about another aspect of LGBT history. So it’s interesting how quick people were to judge Sam Smith for his lack of knowledge on the topic, when only a minority of them can truly call themselves ‘experts’. My thoughts also turn towards how Smith dedicated his award to the ‘LGBT community’. A phrase that is used almost synonymously with the out-dated phrase ‘gay community’. This being said, are we as a society still associating the acronym ‘LGBT’ with gay men and women, when in fact, we should be taking into account everyone who makes up the LGBT community? Trans men and women seem to have been somewhat left behind during this movement towards equality. It is only recently that we have seen changes within organisations to accommodate trans people. For instance, it was only in early 2015 that we saw Stonewall begin to campaign for trans people, alongside their work for lesbian, gay and bisexual people. Whilst I think we should be celebrating this achievement, this goes to show how we’ve only recently started campaigning alongside trans men and women on a national level. I don’t disagree with people when they say that we should learn more about LGB history, but I also feel it’s important to learn more about trans issues. Forgetting about society as a whole, let’s focus in on our own community. How many of us would say they knew enough about trans issues? And if not, why not? I have been fortunate to work with an eclectic group of colleagues, some of whom are trans. Each of their stories is different and has made me reflect on some of my own experiences. But something that really struck me whilst speaking to them, was just how little I knew about what it’s like living as a trans man or woman in today’s society. It also allowed me to dispel some misconceptions that I held and made me think more carefully about trans issues. It’s interesting how within my workplace, for example, I expect to be treated equally and feel welcomed within this environment. Yet how can I then show that same level of respect and understanding towards a trans person, if I don’t have some understanding of what it means to be trans. It’s as though I’m asking of others something that I’m then not fully able to show in return. Whether it be about learning more about your LGBT history or spending time to learn more about the experience of trans people, both will equally help you appreciate where we’ve come from and where we’re going on the journey to equality. If you feel that society should be more accepting of gay men, then why not of trans men and women? Just because it’s not your story, doesn’t mean it has nothing to do with you. Sitting back, waiting for society to change isn’t going to work. We all need to be more proactive in showing our support for the whole of the LGBT community, not just for our letter.