07 June, 2023
Do you have entries on your family tree that, to quote Genealogist Stewart Blandon Traiman, "raise a rainbow flag"? Do you suspect that a spinster aunt might not have been simply unlucky in love? Are you curious about why that second son disappeared without trace from the family story?
Today is IDAHOBIT day: the International Day Against LGBTQIA+ Discrimination. It marks the day only 33 years ago, on which the World Health Organisation removed homosexuality from the Classification of Diseases. IDAHOBIT day celebrates this milestone in the work to achieve LGBTQIA+ equality and to raise awareness of the discrimination that LGBTQIA+ people continue to face today.
What better day to acknowledge what prejudiced and potential persecution may have kept hidden in your family's past? There is beauty in the idea of seeing an ancestor as they might wish to have been seen, to acknowledge a love kept secret, to empathise with someone publicly ‘shamed’, or remember someone deliberately forgotten by others.
While we should be careful not to automatically assume that an unmarried ancestor remained single because they were unable to find a spouse, one must also be careful not to slide into 'Present-ism", the temptation to apply today's cultural norms to people and societies in the past. However, by adopting a 'rainbow prism' when viewing our family tree, we might identify clues that could otherwise be overlooked because so much of LGBTQIA+ experience has been silenced or suppressed.
The links below can help you develop a ‘rainbow prism’. Some are guides that provide principles and sources that can be applied when investigating people in many locations. Stewart Blandon Traiman's blog also gives tips on how to respectfully note relationships, gender and identity in your genealogical record keeping.
LGBT genealogy blog series by Stewart Blandon Traiman (USA)
How to trace LGBT ancestors (UK)
Resources for researchers investigating Australian LGBTIQ+ history:
Australian federal and state events relevant to LGBT history
R Collins (2022) How to trace LGBT ancestors, Who Do You Think You Are Magazine, https://www.whodoyouthinkyouaremagazine.com/feature/how-to-trace-lgbt-a…, accessed 10 May 2023
IDAHOBIT, The History of IDAHOBIT – May 17, https://www.idahobit.org.au/news/the-history-of-IDAHOBIT-may-17, accessed 10 May 2023