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Making history: Celebrate black gay lives this month

As we start Black History Month in the UK and LGBT History Month in the US, we look at why they matter and what we will be doing to celebrate black gay history
Lesbian campaigner Linda Bellos founded Black History Month in the UK 25 years ago.

In 1987, Linda Bellos and a couple of black British people came together to organised the first Black History Month in the UK. Linda in an interview with the Guardian last year said: ‘It was a political decision on my part to make it happen’.

Now, 25 years on, Linda, who is also an LGBT rights campaigner, and the rest have not only made it happened, they have given young black people in this country the power of history.

Many times white people ask me why do we need Black History Month? The same question is asked on the morality of LGBT History Month.

Young black people in Britain today are constantly faced with the challenges of knowing where they are from and the story of their existence in Europe. At the same time, there are conspiracies to hide these stories.

There is no way you can talk about the history of black people in Europe and America and not talk about slavery. To many people on the other side of the fence, they will be happier if we forgot about that and moved on.

However to people like me living in Europe, it is the story of our pride. According to David Diop, my forefathers were the ‘Africans of proud warriors in ancestral savannah’. The wealth of the empire was built on their sweat.

I have the opportunity to have spent over 30 years of my life in Africa before moving to Europe. To me, the great thing about black history is the opportunity it affords black British people that have never had the opportunities I have enjoyed.

It is also to keep the flame of black consciousness alive. The one we saw in Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu, Bob Marley, Maya Angelou, Ayi Kwei Armah, Chinua Achebe and Wole Soyinka.

It highlights our writers, our poets, our politicians, our explorers, our scientists, our academics but also the story of our tomorrow.

Our future is the real key to the month and this is a chance to celebrate it; young black men and women in the news for the right reasons. Men and women fighting prejudices and achieving academic excellence against all the odds.

This month also is the celebration of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender History Month in America. Is it the time to remember the struggles of stonewall and achievements of LGBT people worldwide.

That is why at Gay Star News this month we will be exploring the stories of black LGBT people worldwide. From Europe to America, Africa to the Pacific, the Caribbean to Asia.

We will be celebrating black LGBT people in history. And we will look to the future to showcase young black LGBT people from all works of life.

In this spirit, we have an exciting project for young people. If you are 16 to 26 years old we want to know what you think should be done to fight racism in the LGBT community.

All you have to do is shoot a two minute video, write about 500 words and send it to us at Gay Star News. We will put all the videos on our YouTube channel and celebrate the best on GSN.

And there are other ways you can contribute to our coverage too. Do you know a contemporary black lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender person that has been a role model to you (and is still alive today)? We want to share their inspiration with others, so please send us their names and details on Twitter or Facebook.

As we keep the work of Linda Bellos and co alive, we will also remember the uniqueness of our sexuality and gender identity. The pride of our story, the glory of our future.

Bisi Alimi is a human rights campaigner who started his work in Nigeria in the late 90s before fleeing to the UK where he was granted asylum in 2008. He is a co-founder of the LGBT Kaleidoscope Trust where he serves as the director for Africa. He is also the convener of the Migrant African MSM Sexual Health Project, and project seeking to work with the African MSM community in the UK and Europe. You can follow him on Twitter here.

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