Transgender soldiers have been fighting for your right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness since 1776. Did you ever learn about these patriots in school?
In the fall of 1991, I was thrust into the limelight with network news interviews and NAACP and school board meetings after I was attacked by a skinhead who yelled a racial slur, got out of a car and slugged me outside my high school in Ventura, California. Earlier that spring, the world had witnessed the Rodney King beating. Tensions remained high. As a result, at the age of 17, I established a Black Student Union on campus at Ventura High School for the 30 Black students in our predominantly white student population of 1,820.
You see, I’ve always understood my Black history and the significance of my Black experience in this country. I have always had the love of my family and community affirming and supporting me throughout my life. I learned then the value of using my voice to make a difference.
Fast forward to college and I am out as a Black gay man. As I grew more curious about the LGBT community, I realized I did not have access to resources or materials to teach me about the history of the community. In that moment, I understood the level of privilege I enjoyed as a Black person — I was able to learn Black history at home from my family. But, most queer kids don’t have that luxury. How many of them are raised in LGBT homes? Very few. How are they supposed to learn about their history? Better yet, how many of us could stand to learn more about the mosaic of historic and contemporary changemakers, inventors, entertainers and leaders in the LGBT community?
My name is Zaylore Stout and I’m the author of Our Gay History in Fifty States. I am helping people learn about LGBT history that has been overlooked, hidden and ignored.
Now in its third printing with several awards won and five U.S. states requiring the teaching of LGBT history in schools, it is time to get this textbook into the hands of young folks, queer and straight alike.
Visit Gay50States.com to buy a copy for yourself, to send a copy as a gift or to book me to visit your organization, school or community to talk about the importance of learning our history.