From the Student Homophile League to Today: New LGBTQ+ Resources, a Long Columbia History

Did you know that Columbia was home to one of the first student gay rights organization in the U.S.? New resources from the university are tying the history of queerness at Columbia to our current moment.

Acacia O'Connor
October 06, 2021

While June’s Pride Month has taken center stage on the annual LGBTQ+ calendar, October and November have meaningful days to mark, too.

On October 11, 1987, over half a million people marched in Washington, D.C., for queer rights. Over time, that day has become known as National Coming Out Day. LGBTQ+ History Month, founded in 1994 by Rodney Wilson, a Missouri high school teacher, is also marked in October, in part to coincide with Coming Out Day. 

As part of our #PrideofLions series, historian David Eisenbach talked about Columbia's queer history. 

Columbia Resources for International Pronouns Day 

Since 2018, the third Wednesday of October has been recognized as International Pronouns Day, to raise awareness of the importance of respecting the proper use of pronouns and their significance to transgender and gender nonconforming folks. 

The university recently debuted this primer on pronoun use at Columbia, with some quick suggestions for how to be an ally to queer and transgender members of our community. Be an ally and add the video and your pronouns to your e-mail signature and bio.

The pronouns video was a collaboration between University Life, the Office of Multicultural Affairs, Communications and Public Affairs, and Columbia Creative, with support and guidance from others around the university, including the office of Equal Opportunity and Employment Affirmative Action

Thanks to the University Life Pronoun Project, students can register their pronoun in use on CourseWorks through the Name & Pronouns Recording option. To learn more about pronouns and their importance in our community and beyond, visit Pronouns in Our Community: A Guide from University Life. 

LGBTQ+ Guide: Resources to Foster an Affirming Community for LGBTQ+ Faculty and Staff

The Columbia University LGBTQ+ Guide (and resources website) will be re-released on October 13, 2021 in an online event, where panelists will discuss the process of creating the guide and its potential role in furthering Columbia’s broader social justice mission. 

The guide was originally shared with the Columbia community in January 2020. The revised edition builds on interviews with more than 40 students, faculty, and staff, and incorporates feedback from the university community. 

Faculty Advancement also launched a LGBTQ+ Resources website to serve as a repository for LGBTQ+ information across schools; University Life created a similar site for their student audience. This guide follows on the Office of the Provost’s initiative launched in 2016 to recruit faculty in the area of LGBTQ+ scholarship as part of the university’s faculty diversity commitment

November 20: Trans Day of Remembrance

The annual observance of Trans Day of Remembrance will occur on November 20, 2021. Trans Day of Remembrance was created in 1999 by transgender advocate Gwendolyn Ann Smith as a vigil to honor the memory of Rita Hester, a transgender woman who was killed in 1998. Trans women of color are disproportionately victims of fatal violence. So far in 2021, at least 37 transgender or gender non-conforming people have been killed, according to the Human Rights Campaign. 

Check back for updates on Trans Day of Remembrance events.