There’s a myth about LGBTQ youth: They don’t care about the sacrifices their LGBTQ forebears made for them. The truth is, any young person can only care if they are given the opportunity to be taught our history.
Passing on our history is not enough of a priority in our community right now. We’ve taken the care to preserve so many of our stories, but we’re lacking enough accessible routes of dissemination. There are several excellent organizations working on this, with projects ranging from museums to blogs to films to walking tours to wikis. This is exactly what we need — a diversity of media online and offline to accommodate the spectrum of learning styles and preferences.
In 2012, I saw a gap in LGBTQ history teaching vehicles that spoke to young people online, and that’s why I created the free mobile app Quist. Like many, I like to get my news in short, digestible headlines in the palm of my hand. Quist is about translating LGBTQ history to that style. We’re on track to reach 20,000 downloads worldwide this month.
October is LGBT History Month in the U.S., and Quist is celebrating with a campaign called #QuistoryMatters. We published 11 reasons why we believe it’s important to preserve, teach, and learn LGBTQ history (or as we call it, “quistory,” short for queer history).
The response has been inspiring. We’ve had almost over 12,000 interactions with the campaign on Tumblr, Twitter, and Facebook in less than two weeks. Most commenters agree that “quistory” is important and they wish they had it in their schools (“where is this 17 percent and how did they get so lucky,” said andthenigaveyouclothes on Tumblr).
Here are some of the reasons individuals have added throughout the campaign:
• Because queer POC [people of color] kids should be taught that queer excellence has never and will never be limited to white people. (antigerone)
• Because it really helps to know that behind me is an incredibly strong and proud history of trans people, and if they can do it, so can I. (potato-chips-in-the-bath)
• Because I had a (Cambridge student) friend who was convinced that Lesbians didn’t exist until the 60s. (arightpigsear)
• Because it’s alienating, when an individual understands themselves but the society in which they live does not understand them. (shipthenerd)
• Because it’s normal and nothing to be ashamed about. (nekotonyanchan)
• Because we learn about several religions and cultures in school, so why not quistory? (cloakofinsanity)
• Because love is love and knowledge is power. (matinababie0x)
• Because history must include the whole story. (ineverthoughtaboutitlikethat)
• Because I was the first Queer woman I knew & had no context for my feelings. (arightpigsear)
• Because the leading UK LGB charity is called Stonewall & is only just now thinking about Trans people. (arightpigsear)
• Because it’ll bring humanity one step closer to total equality. (fezzesareqool)
• Because it illuminates the full range of human experience.(unspeakablevice)
• Because knowing that ideas about sexuality have changed over time opens up a world of possibilities for queer people today. (queerpublichistory)
• Because a gay man created the logic machines… that are in your computer. (welcome-to-the--tardis)
• Because I had never heard of the Stonewall Riots before I got to college. (ablativeofyourmotherssorrow)
• Because my history teacher had never heard of Alan Turing. (@plantfuneral)
• Because no one should be told that they don't have a history. (@aud_gabriel)
• Because we should celebrate our heroes. To encourage others to become them. (@TheBiCast)
• Because LGBT history shows us the distances we have traveled and how far we have left to go. (@kellynicola)
• Because there is no family bond to tie LGBT history together. LGBT people come from all races, creeds, and backgrounds. We don’t reproduce naturally and, when we have kin by other means, it’s very likely that they’re not gay. If those of us that are around don’t know and preserve our history, the straight world will have no reason to. (isometriclove)
• Because I for one know (that at least for me personally) it would be inspiring to learn that past LGBT people have been successful and smart and just plain AWESOME. (roxierules214)
• Porque all our stories matter. (pezowl)
I envision a world where queer youth learn about Christina of Sweden, Albert Cashier, Ma Rainey, Willem Arondeus, We’wha, and Alberto Santos-Dumont. No matter your age, search for these folks and learn more about your pioneers.
Will you help spread the word that LGBTQ history matters by sharing these images?
SARAH PRAGER is the creator of the app Quist, which displays day-by-day events from LGBT history.