Celebrating Queer History Month

October 2, 2023

Dear CSSW Community,

October kicks off Queer History Month (otherwise known as LGBTQ+ History Month), an annual month-long observance of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender history. This celebration began with an idea back in 1994 from Missouri high school teacher Rodney Wilson.The month of October was selected intentionally for this commemoration, as October 11th is recognized as National Coming Out Day, and October 14th reminds us of the first National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights in 1979. You can learn more about LGBTQ+ history and organizing at Columbia University here. (The CSSW DEI Office is currently planning an event for 7-9 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 11, to commemorate National Coming Out Day and Queer History Month.)

To further honor Queer History Month, we would like to call attention to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center (The Center). The Center was established in 1983 in the height of the AIDS epidemic to provide safe spaces and resources for LGBTQ+ New Yorkers. Not only do they continue to provide a wide variety of mental and physical health services, but they also focus heavily on community engagement, artistic and cultural programming, DEI, and so much more. Serving as The Center’s senior director of behavioral health is CSSW’s very own Antonio Ruberto, Jr., who is responsible for the planning and implementation of all behavioral health services to LGBTQ+ youth, adults and families.

The preservation of queer history in this country and elsewhere remains essential. According to the Human Rights Campaign, 2023 has witnessed more than 500 anti-LGBTQ+ bills introduced in state legislatures, with more than 200 of those specifically targeting transgender and non-binary folks. We also recognize that for groups that have historically been pushed to the margins, the impact of these bills is exacerbated by the already-existing racism, sexism, and economic injustice that are pervasive in so many aspects of our society. The resulting increase in weaponized law-making and hateful rhetoric serves as a reminder that resources such as The Center and other LGBTQ+ community-based organizations are absolutely crucial.

With so many social workers at the forefront of this work, let us always find ways to support the safe and affirming spaces for LGBTQ+ folks that allow for every one of us to thrive and live our full lives.

In community,

Melissa Begg
Dean & Professor

Karma Lowe
Senior Associate Dean for DEI, Enrollment & Community Engagement