As the weather turns from hot and humid to cool and crisp, various holidays are recognized. From lighthearted ones such as International Pizza Day and Halloween to the ones of reflection and honor such as National Coming Out Day and Indigenous People’s Day, the fall season is filled with a wide array of celebrations.
In fact, there are hundreds of holidays, awareness months and awareness weeks just in the month of October. But don’t worry, Qnotes has created a select guide of some of October’s most important holidays and what meaning they hold.
LGBTQ+ History Month
LGBTQ+ History Month — which hasn’t been formally recognized by the United States government — has been celebrated in many communities across the globe since it was established in 1994.
It was created by Missouri high school history teacher Rodney Wilson, who made it his goal to create a curriculum to educate K-12 students on queer history. Now, many universities and school districts hold events throughout the month of October celebrating LGBTQ+ history and supporting queer students.
AIDS Awareness Month
AIDS Awareness Month, recognized every October, serves to support those currently diagnosed with HIV/AIDS as well as honor those who have died from the disease.
LGBTQ+ individuals were disproportionately impacted by HIV/AIDS, and as recent as 2019, gay and bisexual men made up almost 70 percent of the new HIV diagnoses.
Over 37 million around the globe are diagnosed with HIV/AIDS, and AIDS Awareness Month emphasizes the importance of widely providing accurate information regarding public information about its prevention, transmission, and treatment.
Breast Cancer Awareness Month
Breast Cancer Awareness Month is observed every October with the mission of educating women and men about the importance of keeping up with their breast health. Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States — with nearly 300,000 people estimated to be diagnosed. More than 43,000 people will die of breast cancer in 2023.
LGBTQ+ people actually have a higher risk for breast cancer over their heterosexual peers due to overall lifestyle differences. LGBTQ+ people statistically drink and smoke more than heterosexual patients, leading to an increased risk for cancer. However, the largest reason for the heightened risk, according to UMPC Health Beat, is the lack of inclusive health care. Our community far too often doesn’t receive cancer screenings as regularly as cisgender straight people. Cancer screenings can find changes in the breast tissue before it becomes cancer.
Asexual Awareness Week
Asexual Awareness Week is celebrated during the last full week of October and was created in 2010. Asexual-identifying individuals have historically been pushed out from both heterosexual and LGBTQ+ spaces, so Asexual Awareness Week is meant to recognize this often overlooked community.
According to the website Ace Week:
“The Ace community has made significant headway over the years. Asexual representation in mainstream media continues to improve, major LGBTQ+ organizations now acknowledge and include us, and ace community groups have sprouted up and flourished in cities around the world. Ace Week gives us an opportunity to recognize these achievements and the efforts that made them possible.”
World Mental Health Day
LGBTQ+ people, particularly youth, are more likely to suffer from poor mental health, including anxiety and depression. According to the Trevor Project, 73 percent of LGBTQ+ youth reported experiencing symptoms of anxiety while 58 percent experienced symptoms of depression. In addition, 45 percent of queer youth seriously considered suicide in the past year, and 14 percent attempted suicide. October 10 is when World Mental Health Day is recognized across the globe. The main goal of World Mental Health Day is to raise awareness of mental health and driving positive change for everyone’s mental health.
Indigenous People’s Day
Indigenous People’s Day is celebrated on the second Monday of October, the same day as Columbus Day.
Indigenous People’s Day started as a counter-celebration to Columbus Day, as many people share disdain for the violence and illness Christopher Columbus and his crew brought to the Americas through colonization. North Carolina — home to eight different Indigenous tribes — is one of at least 12 states that don’t celebrate Columbus Day.
Spirit Day for LGBTQ+ Youth
Spirit Day is known as one of the most recognized anti-bullying campaigns aimed at LGBTQ+ youth across the United States celebrated on the third Thursday in October. Many organizations are participating in the #SpiritDay campaign, including GLAAD, the National LGBTQ+ Task Force and more.
National Transgender Children Day
October 26 is National Transgender Children Day and honors trans youth who are afraid to “come out of the closet” or are unable to out of fear for their safety or acceptance.
According to the day’s website:
“It is a day to open your arms and welcome these children and let them feel included in the family and community. Transgender children are less likely to announce their gender status as compared to transgender adults. This is because their survival is mainly dependent on their parents’ reactions to their declaration. Hence, parents should strive to be more understanding to them from this day onward.”