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Leeds celebrates LGBT History Month

Gay Pride, Manchester
Jonty Wilde

February is a month to remember and celebrate LGBT history. We've come a long way recently with the legalisation of same-sex marriage, but this month examines the journey we've taken to get here. Let's not forget that it wasn't until 1999 that it became illegal to discriminate against an individual for being LGBT, and not until 2001 when the age of consent was lowered.

We've got a vibrant and diverse LGBT community in Leeds, so here's a few events happening that you might want to get involved in.

Leeds First Friday
The city is home to one of the UK's biggest regular Trans social nights, with Leeds First Friday next taking place on February 6. This event attracts quite a crowd, with Leeds' gay scene taking over the bar of the Cosmopolitan Hotel on Lower Briggate. New members to the group are always welcome and you can always contact them in advance so you don't feel like you're attending alone.

Bisexual discussion group
Go along for a chat with the Leeds Bisexuals group and the Leeds Beckett LGBTQ student group. Full details are still to be confirmed, but you can contact Emily for more information at leedsbigroup@gmail.com.

Lesbian Social
The Lesbian Social are throwing a traffic light party in Blayds Bar's function room on Saturday February 14. This group currently has over 500 members in their meet-up group and host regular women-only events. Whether you're single or attached, searching for love or otherwise, get yourself along to party with the girls and choose your colour. If you're looking for a date, grab a green sticker.

Leeds LGBT Hub social
This group, facilitated by Leeds City Council, is hosting a re-launch social event on Tuesday February 10. Everyone is welcome to come along and network with other groups and organisations in Leeds about LGBT-specific issues. RSVP your attendance by emailing LeedsLGBT@leeds.gov.uk.

The Yorkshire Bears' Valentine's Ball
The Yorkshire Bears are the biggest (in more ways than just the waistline) gay guys social group in Yorkshire, boasting 1,700 members in their Facebook group. They're throwing a special event for Valentine's at Mission 2 on Saturday February 14, with a party DJ keeping them on the dancefloor and drinks offers keeping them in the mood. You don't have to be 'bear build' to join in. Being a bear is strictly a state of mind, so head along with an open mind and join this inclusive community.

The Owlies Leeds
This annual event in Leeds acts to recognise individuals and organisations in the city who make the scene as diverse, fun and supportive as it is. Categories range from Best Drag DJ and most diverse bar to awards celebrating the support work done by organisations and their volunteers. This year, The Owlies take place at 7pm on Tuesday February 17 in the Leeds Marriott hotel.

Over The Top 
Exploring sexuality and gender identity during World War One, Over The Top at Leeds City Museum includes performances from Gay Abandon and Alphabet Club, a movie by local actor and director Jamie Fletcher. It takes place on February 28, 11am-4pm. Get more information on this and the ongoing LGBT Social History project by emailing jude.woods@leeds.gov.uk.

The Out in Leeds
Leeds' LGBT over-50s group, organised by Age UK Leeds, is organising a meet-up to visit Over The Top for their February event. If you're interested in joining them, or getting more information about the group, then email sarah.prescott@ageukleeds.org.uk.

Transitions: An LGBT exhibition
The team at Inkwell Arts have invited contributions of art from across the UK LGBT community for this history month exhibition. Contributors have been asked for two pieces, one from their early collections along with a recent item which shows how their skills as an artist have transitioned over time.

LGBT History of Leeds
Leeds' libraries are working in conjunction with Leeds Beckett University for this event, on Tuesday February 24 at 5.30pm, at the Leeds Central Library. While most events talk about things on a national (or indeed international) scale, this evening focusses on progress and political activism in Leeds since the 1950s. There should be some fascinating stories.

If you're feeling inspired to get involved, attend, or maybe even get your own event organised, you've got a whole month to do so. There's plenty going on over the Pennines in Manchester too.

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