Unfortunately, History has Set the Record a Little Too Straight

Thirty years ago, Laurie Casagrande created a poster  to celebrate the nation’s very first national Coming Out Day. On October 11th each year, millions of people across the nation join together to recognize LGBT people from across all cultures and push for acceptance within their own communities. Coming Out Day does not just recognize those who are open about their sexualities but also those who choose to remain quiet.

National Coming Out Day Poster from 1988

Mr. Greenleaf rediscovered this old poster in his closet and brought it to Greely’s Gay, Straight, Transgender+ Alliance.  He asked us whether or not this poster is still relevant today. Would it help the cause for diversity and inclusiveness to put the poster on the wall of his classroom?  True, today it is far more likely the average high school student knows that prominent figures in today’s media such as Adam Rippon, Ellen DeGeneres, Troye Sivan, Hayley Kiyoko belong to LGBT community.  Maybe some would argue it would be far more practical to hang up a poster of one of these celebrities, whose names and faces are instantly recognizable, than pictures of people like Michelangelo, James Baldwin, Errol Flynn, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Edna St. Vincent Millay.  We disagree.

In a recent informal poll, a group of Greely freshmen were asked whether or not they recognized the name Michelangelo.  92% said yes while only 8% said no. However, only 14% knew that Michelangelo had indeed once fallen in love with a Roman nobleman, Tommaso de Cavalieri, and later on his male model Gherardo Perini.  Michelangelo wrote love poetry to each man. After his death, Michelangelo’s nephew published much of his poetry, but the nephew or the publisher altered the genders in Michelangelo’s love poems to hide any indication of homosexuality.

Although history may have lessened the impact of these alterations, take a moment to think how you would feel if one of your characteristics were removed from your historical identity. Your descendants would never truly understand who you were as a person. This is what happened to Michalangelo’s past.

While some may argue that Michelangelo’s family did not wish to be associated with his homosexuality, and  therefore the changes were justified, that provides no valid excuse as to why text book publishers today still exclude the fact from many textbooks. The Coming Out Day poster from 1988 reveals a truth about Michelangelo that many people are ignorant about. To firmly answer the question, yes, this poster is still quite relevant in today’s culture. And, if possible, the poster should indefinitely be hung on Mr. Greenleaf’s classroom wall.

Source: https://therangerreview.com/1374/uncategorized/unfortunately-history-has-set-the-record-a-little-too-straight/