LGBTQ+ History Month

LGBTQ+ History Month

LGBTQ+ History Month happens every year in February with the aim to claim the LGBTQ+ community’s past, celebrate its present and create its future. Members of our LGBTQ+ Network have shared with us their most influential queer and trans icons throughout time. Read on to learn all about a Motorsports legend, a multi-talented actress, two pirates in love and a hero close to home.


  1. Lella Lombardi written by Abs

“When you think of motorsports, and of Formula One in particular, you probably don’t think of LGBTQ+ figures, especially since the sport has historically been dominated by straight white men (and unfortunately still is).

However, back in the 1970s, one woman (and a gay woman no less!) paved the way for women in motorsport and her name was Lella Lombardi. Lella was an Italian racing driver and the first woman to ever score points in a Formula One race!

She proved that women can race and are deserving of a place in Formula One. She never let herself be defined by her gender or sexuality, and instead identified herself first and foremost as a racecar driver.

Lella is a big inspiration to me personally because she defied all expectations and made her mark in a sport that wasn’t particularly welcoming to women or LGBTQ+ people, especially at that time. But she didn’t let that stop her!”


  1. My Partner written by Hazel

“When I reflect on my LGBTQ+ history, one person stands out above all others: my partner. Over the past eight years, as we navigated our entire twenties together, we’ve embarked on a shared journey of self-discovery, growth, and creating our own chosen family.

We met during university days on a small campus in Stoke-on-Trent, where LGBTQ+ representation was surprisingly scarce and holding hands in public often resulted in verbal abuse. I didn’t care, though. I was too distracted by the connection that I’d found in them, which made me feel safe and empowered to be my authentic self, even in the face of hostility.

Three years into our relationship, amidst finishing our master’s degrees, my partner came out as trans. Standing by their side through their transition has been a privilege, challenging me to expand my understanding of gender and sexuality beyond binary constraints.

Their unwavering self-authenticity encouraged me to explore my own identity more deeply, leading to moments of self-discovery and acceptance which have expanded beyond my own queer identity and seeped into other moments of clarity about myself and my life.

After graduation, we decided to make a fresh start in Manchester, craving a community where we could truly be ourselves. Four years later, we’ve found our tribe and created a home where we can live openly and shamelessly.

Life still isn’t always walk in the park for us as a queer couple (particularly considering the UK’s terrifying treatment of trans people), but our relationship empowers us both to remain authentic to ourselves, knowing that at the end of every day in the big-wide-world, we will always come home to each other, and our cat, to be seen and embraced for who we truly are.

Throughout our journey, my partner’s authenticity and courage have been the bedrock of our relationship, pushing us both to embrace every aspect of our unique selves. Together, we’ve created a space where we can express and celebrate our true selves, and where other LGBTQ+ people in our tribe are invited to do the same.”


  1. Mary Read and Anne Bonny written by Kit

“The stories of these two infamous pirates have so captivated storytellers since the start and end of their legendary pirating that they have been popping up in retellings for the following three hundred years.

Three years after Read’s death, ‘A General History of the Pyrates’ was published, from which our image of pirates has largely sprung. Its first volume is considered to be fairly unembellished, and it tells us how as a child, Mary’s mother presented them as a boy to continue receiving financial support from Mary’s grandmother; how a young Mary was hired for work as a boy; served as a man in the British military; and then dressed as a man alongside Anne Bonny on the same pirate crew.

When Anne and Mary met, each assumed that the other was a man. Anne ‘revealed’ her gender to Mary when admitting that she was attracted to them, at which point Mary also ‘revealed’ their gender; “as quick to draw their cutlasses as they were to fall in love”1.

Amidst the challenges of living as an LGBT+ person, we can always look to our ancestors and see ourselves in them; three hundred years later, we are still finding joy and kinship in two queer, gender-non-conforming swashbuckling pirates.”



  1. Sandra Caldwell written by Lucille

“To mark the 20th anniversary of LGBTQ+ History month, I’d like to tell you about someone I admire and respect greatly. Her name is Sandra Caldwell. She is an American actress, singer, writer and a trans woman of colour.

Sandra’s began presenting publicly as a woman in her early 20’s and also received gender affirming hormone therapy. Around the same time, she began to work in theatre and TV, appearing on television sets across the United States in the late 90’s.

While her transition was supported by her close friends and family, only these people knew she was assigned male at birth. Along with the challenges of being a woman of colour and an aspiring movie star, she lived in fear that her identity as a trans woman would be revealed to the media and of the wave of hate that might follow.

All it would take is one small part of her history to be revealed and she would lose everything she worked so hard for.

 You wake up afraid. You go to sleep afraid. You are trying to figure out if someone is going to drop the bomb. You are just afraid all the time. – Sandra Caldwell

As a trans woman, Sandra’s experience is echoed by myself and many other trans women I know.

Whether already ‘out’ or managing to get by under the radar, the fear is ever-present. We live lives that balance on a precarious edge between safety and distress. It sometimes feels like we are only one uninformed complaint, one off comment, or a misguided act of violence away from tragedy when we just want to live our lives and be ourselves.

What inspires me about Sandra is that she refused to let the fear of being outed, or the guilt of hiding her past, take control of her. Of all the different aspects that make Sandra Caldwell a remarkable figure, it is the way she refuses to let prejudice to hold her back that makes her a shining example.

If you’d like to learn more about Sandra, the media as possible source of a lot of the transphobia we face on a daily basis and a history of how we have been portrayed on the screen, I recommend watching the documentary “Disclosure: Trans Lives on Screen.”



Photo credits

Lella Lombardi Photo credit: giuengi from giussano Milan Italy, Milan Italy, CC BY 2.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

Mary Beard drawing by Kit Nordhausen-Smolarz