October is National LGBTQ+ History Month, a time to celebrate and recognize the accomplishments of LGBTQ+ individuals throughout history.
Organizations and businesses across Chapel Hill have highlighted the LGBTQ+ community in different ways this month and all year.
Hannah Olson, marketing and communications coordinator for the Chapel Hill Public Library, said the library had shared LGBTQ+ resources online for community members to explore.
“We put together a reading list for teens and youth to kind of introduce them to LGBTQIA+ history as a whole, and then we also have a reading list put together for adults,” Olson said.
One of the strategic focuses of the library is uncovering community history, she said.
For National LGBTQ+ History Month, Olson said the library is working to make local Chapel Hill LGBTQ+ history accessible and easier to find.
“The library is a place for everyone and we want everyone to be able to see themselves in their histories in the pages of our collection,” she said.
The Chapel Hill Public Library is home to the Community History Lab, where individuals can explore and share Chapel Hill history.
Molly Luby, the community history coordinator for the library, said she documents and shares stories from people that have historically been ignored, erased or marginalized.
A 2019 episode of Re/Collecting Chapel Hill, the library’s podcast, tells the story of Joe Herzenberg, the first openly gay elected official in the South, she said.
Luby said the library had done some work to promote LGBTQ+ community history but that it lacks the staffing and resources to do more. She said it is still interested in exploring queer history in the community.
Terri Phoenix, the director of the UNC LGBTQ Center, said that highlighting someone who has been essential to LGBTQ history each day in October is a goal of the month.
“A lot of LGBTQ history has gone unrecorded, and a lot of people that are LGBTQ do not get the recognition or the celebration they deserve,” Phoenix said.
Visibility and representation of people in the community are important, T said.
One of the ways to increase representation during National LGBTQ+ History Month is by promoting LGBTQ+ books and authors, according to Phoenix.
“When folks see successful, out and happy LGBTQ people, it paints a picture of possibility, particularly for youth,” Phoenix said.
The UNC LGBTQ Center is focused on three things: education, direct support and advocacy and community building, T said.
The Center is home to the LGBTQ+ Lending Library, where students, staff and faculty can browse and check out LGBTQ+ publications. The library highlights knowledge, information and experiences relevant to LGBTQ+ communities, Phoenix said.
Jamie Fiocco is the founder and owner of Flyleaf Books, a bookstore in Chapel Hill. Part of the store’s mission is to celebrate diversity through books, speakers and supporting the community, Fiocco said.
“We reflect the community we are in – we carry books that we know are of interest and obviously books that sell,” she said.
Flyleaf Books is always celebrating LGBTQ+ history, Fiocco said, promoting LGBTQ+ authors and topics with their curated selection of books and speakers events.
“When someone walks in the door, I want them to be able to see in the kids books people that look like them. I want to see authors that have similar heritage to them,” Fiocco said.
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