COLUMN: Give queer historical figures the recognition they deserve


Rob Le Cates

Ellen Dooley is a junior special education standard major. and can be reached at 217-581-2812.

Ellen Dooley, Editor

Queer history is a topic seldom talked about today. The study of gender and sexuality in the past seemed to be a taboo subject that is not really touched on or only whispered about behind closed doors.  

But, thanks to queer pioneers- people can feel free to discuss these topics and dive deep into what these themes really uncover about the human species.  

People like Judith Butler have made way through these disciplines to give us theories that people can really relate to and explore even more.  

According to Butler, gender is a social construct and is by no means tied to the physical body.  

When others hear that other people feel this way, they are not alone. They recognize that feeling a certain way is not insane or just “made up” in their own minds.  

I feel like this really speaks to our gender non-conforming or non-binary folks. They hear this and may feel validated and possibly empowered.  

People should feel a push to talk about the taboo.  

We cannot grow as a society if we just continue to push these “uncomfortable” topics in the back of our minds or in the corner of the room.  

People should feel open to talk about queer history and learn about those who trailblazed to allow others to talk without ridicule. Not just well-known people like RuPaul, Elton John, or (problematic) Ellen DeGeneres.  

We need to dig down deep and recognize those who fought for the rights of queer people and give them credit just like we do with celebrities.  

It takes a community to come together and fight for one another.  

But it also takes one person to ruin the image of a community. When these celebrities continue to be problematic, society tends to put a label on the rest of the community as problematic. 

While one is responsible for one’s own actions, it does reflect the community you are a part of. That is why it is so important to recognize that these actions of problematic people do not reflect the whole community.  

It is extremely important to recognize the actions of the queer people who made the queer community what it is together, not just the celebrities on the surface. It is the heavy lifting on the bottom of the pyramid that keeps the community thriving and visible in our society.  

We need to recognize those who helped the queer community in the past, those who are currently fighting for it, and those who will be fighting in the future for queer rights.  

The battle is never over. That is why celebrating queer historical figures is so important not only during LGBTQIA+ History Month, but every other month of the year.  

Ellen Dooley is a sophmore special education standard major. She can be reached at [email protected] or 217-581-2812.