Ever heard of Baron Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben? How about Sylvia Rivera? Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon? Audre’ Lorde?

If you don’t know them, you’re not alone. Much of the LGBT community is unaware of our history and ignorant of the struggles of previous generations or of the accomplishments of LGBT men and women throughout history.

The month of June has become LGBT Pride Month with numerous celebrations around the world. It’s a time to celebrate our community and our continuing fight for equality. (By the way, do you know why June is Pride Month? The answer is below).

But it should also be a time to honor and remember our past and those who got us to where we are today.

That task is made more difficult by the fact that so many of our LGBT ancestors lived their lives in secret and much of our history as a community was hidden out of fear of repercussions. And little attempt was made to preserve stories and artifacts of that history.

But we have been able to preserve and reconstruct much of our history both as a community and of LGBT individuals. We’ve seen that effort in recent movies like “Milk” and “The Imitation Game” and the TV miniseries “When We Rise.”

But there are so many more stories out there. Stories of the Mattachine Society, the Lavender Scare purge of the 1950s, the effort to remove homosexuality from the American Psychiatric Society’s list of mental illnesses, or the activism of Marsha P. Johnson. And that’s only scratching the surface.

We as LGBT people have a rich history that should make us immensely proud – a history of struggling against oppression and winning over and over again; a history of great achievements that impacted millions of people; a history that is deserving of widespread knowledge in the LGBT community and beyond.

We can all make that happen by educating ourselves about our history and continually telling our stories. There are multiple resources online, in books, and in movies readily available. And there are certainly older members of our community who can be great resources for sharing their stories.

History is a vital cornerstone for any community, particularly one that has faced repression and oppression for centuries. It gives them a sense of accomplishment, of purpose….of pride.

And, for the record, Baron Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben was a gay Prussian military expert hired by George Washington to train the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War. Sylvia Rivera was a transgender woman who is believed to be one of the leaders of the Stonewall Riots. Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon were the founders of the Daughters of Bilitis in the 1950s, the first nationwide organization for lesbians. And Audre’ Lorde was a poet, writer, and activist who inspired thousands through her work.

And why is Pride Month in June? The Stonewall Riot took place in June of 1969. What ultimately became Pride started as an anniversary celebration of Stonewall.

The more you know…