On Friday 18th of November, LGBTQI+ activists and historians will pop up in 10 iconic London spots to highlight the importance of queer history and demand that London gets a LGBTQI+ museum. In the run-up to the 50th anniversary of partial decriminalisation of homosexuality in 1967, the coalition are demanding a permanent home.
Museums such as the Leslie Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art in New York, Schwules Museum in Berlin, and exhibitions such as ‘Through a Queer Lens: Portraits of LGBTQ Jews’ at the Jewish Museum and the upcoming ‘Queer British Art’ at the Tate show highlight that there is both precedent and demand for a queer museum. We believe that London deserves one as befits its status as a world destination and repository of queer history.
Jan Pimblett Principal Development Officer London Metropolitan Archives, said,
LGBTQ+ people have always been part of our history but too often these histories have been made invisible and marginalised. An LGBTQ+ museum will be an important step in the mainstreaming of these rich and important histories.
Stuart Feather, Gay liberation Front activist and author of Blowing the Lid – Gay liberation, Sexual Revolution and Radical Queens:
Why is our history in filing cabinets gathering dust? We’ve never been allowed to exist as equals because there hasn’t been a place allowed to share our history. Section 28 of the Local Government Act made exhibitions about gay and lesbian life risky grounds for museums, as it banned anything that might promote homosexuality to schoolchildren. Since then courageous people, programmes and institutions across London have exhibited Bloolips posters, stories of gay women in the Suffragettes, Greenham Common Women’s Peace Camp, responses to AIDS and the Black queer experience – but they are all temporary. We want to bring queer history out into the open and make it accessible to all.
Nadia Asri, an activist as part of Friday’s action,
Growing up as a queer woman of colour, I have ‘enjoyed’ more privilege than my predecessors – many of whom devoted their lives to claim their identities and their rights. The struggle to free the queer community from the damaging straight world order is nowhere close to finished. A space to permanently store, display, and make accessible our collective histories and memories will give young people something to identify with; something tangible to hold onto. It will inspire us to continue fighting for what the incredible activists who gave us what we have today started.
Salma Tiff, an activist as part of Friday’s action,
Unfortunately for most of us, our families often can’t or don’t teach us about our history simply because it’s not theirs and being generally ignored by mainstream politics and media, young people are left in the dark. Having a reliable queer space is so important for young people if only as a respite from what can often be an unkind and unconcerned world.
Andrew Lumsden, former Editor of Gay News, who actively campaigned to bring about the 1967 passing of the Sexual Offences Act:
London has no Queer Museum. I was one of the activists in the 1960s pushing for passing of the Sexual Offences Act and 50 years later I am still campaigning. 2017 marks the 50th anniversary of the decriminalisation of male homosexuality in England and Wales, and we anticipate the government trying to take credit for this milestone. We want to highlight that the change was brought about by activists on the ground who fought tooth and nail for the privileges we enjoy today.
Corey Gilmore, student and activist:
LGBT+ people have endured and accomplished huge amounts over the centuries, but are erased from mainstream histories. A queer museum would serve as a sorely needed space for people of all sexualities to come together and learn about our fascinating heritage.
Action date: Friday 18th November 2016, Press Photoshoot at 9am, Piccadilly Circus – meet at Eros Statue
- Vere St, Camden – the site of Victorian Molly houses
- 239 Kings Road – the site of Gateways, a lesbian club
- Stoke Newington Town Hall – Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners concert
- Regent’s Park – first Black Pride
- Piccadilly Circus – cruising spot and home to the Dilly Boys
- Parliament – lesbians abseiling in protest of Section 28
- Kings St, Covent Garden – Gay Liberation Front meeting place
- Bow St – Fanny and Stella
- Royal Albert Hall – Miss World protest
- National Theatre – LGBT+ performers and playwrights
- Charing Cross Hospital – Gender clinic
- The Arches, Villiers St – Heaven nightclub (evening)
- Dalston Superstore (evening)
Phone: Dan Glass on 07717811747, Corey Gilmore on 07876252357, Ash Pasquale on 07472282628.
Coalition formed as part of ‘Queer Tours of London – A Mince Through Time’, which exists to shine a light on London’s rich LGBTQI history through creative and life-affirming interactive tours – www.queertoursoflondon.com