Today, Thursday 7th July, Queer Britain the UK’s first national LGBTQ+ museum announces its long-awaited debut exhibition “We Are Queer Britain” – set to open Wednesday 20th July at the museum’s home in Granary Square, Kings Cross.
Queer Britain opened its bricks and mortar museum a little over two months ago – a landmark moment for LGBTQ+ history in the UK – the museum has since solidified itself as a safe space for queer people as well as becoming a beacon within the cultural zeitgeist. Welcoming over 12,000 visitors to view it’s archival work in a temporary display “Welcome to Queer Britain” whilst the museum team has been busy preparing this debut exhibition.
The “We Are Queer Britain” exhibition marks the 50th Anniversary of the UK’s first Pride March – a poignant turning point for gay liberation. The exhibition will see the museum host a diverse and rich array of artifacts that culminates voices, objects and images from the worlds of activism, art, culture and social history covering over 100 years of queer life. Alongside objects from the Queer Britain archive the exhibition includes further loans from across the country including the Charleston Trust, the Museum of London, the National Justice Museum and the Bishopsgate Institute as well as many individuals.
Some of the key objects exhibited include Oscar Wilde’s Reading Prison cell door; as well as a 1909 copy of De Profundis, his posthumously released letter from Reading Prison in 1897; log books showing moving records of the LGBT+ helpline Switchboard; recently discovered erotic work by Duncan Grant. Some iconic clothing will be displayed including Divine’s ‘Octopus’ dress from her 1985 London stage show, a Rainbow hijab (lent by Faizan Fiaz, Imaan co-founder) and Olly Alexander’s rainbow outfit from his iconic 2019 Glastonbury performance. Truly century spanning in its curation, also featured is a letter from Elton John to his younger self, statues of Christine Burns MBE and Phyllis Opoku-Gyimah from the “Put Her Forward” project, the diaries of Mr Lucas, material related to Hanif Kureishi’s My Beautiful Laundrette (1985) and Derek Jarman’s Jubilee (1978), work by cartoonist, illustrator Kate Charlesworth, a portrait of Oliver award winner Liz Carr, material from recent protests and much more.
Also on display are a number of portraits & imagery from across a diverse spectrum of Queer artists, including Michael Leonard, Sadie Lee, Robert Taylor, Adge Baker, Ingrid Pollard, Rachael House, Waheed Pall, and more.
The Museum will also host the world’s first virtual reality museum dedicated to platforming and celebrating the stories and artwork of LGBTQIA+ people, and preserving queer personal histories. It contains 3D scans of emotive real-life objects – from wedding shoes to a teddy bear – chosen by people in the LGBTQ+ community, accompanied by their story in their own voice. The gallery showcases 2D illustrations and artwork by queer creators all over the world.
Speaking about the exhibition, curator Dawn Hoskin says: “‘We Are Queer Britain’ looks to reflect the diversity and development of our communities, experiences, challenges and emotions – looking back to before and after 1972 Pride.
Foregrounding the voices of individuals who lived through these times, a fascinating range of material brings underseen lives to life, reflecting moments of anger, sadness, joy and love. These are powerful stories and drawing them together for this exhibition has been emotional at times. But it has also been invigorating, inspiring and surprising as new links and connections appear.
We want visitors to recognise and find themselves and each other; take a stand against discrimination and inequalities; and express themselves creatively and hope they feel a sense of ‘coming in’ to a space of shared rich intertwined histories, creating a space for conversation.”
Director and Co-Founder of Queer Britain, Joseph Galliano-Doig adds: “In the two months since we opened the UK’s first LGBTQ+ Museum, we have welcomed thousands through the doors. The space has been full of laughter and tears from people feeling seen for the first time. Clichéd, but true in this instance. Given the history of queer erasure, I find this incredibly moving. I hope that at our debut exhibition, We Are Queer Britain, people will feel more seen than ever.”
The exhibition will also feature a reading corner providing visitors with a selection of books available to browse on shelves. Works included reading corner include Lauren John Joseph’s At Certain Points We Touch, Paul Mendez’s Rainbow Milk, Alan Hollinghurst’s The Line of Beauty, Jackie Kay’s Trumpet, Travis Alabanza’s None of the Above: Reflections on Life Beyond the Binary and many more.
Queer Britain is a fully accessible via lifts and ramps and will always be free entry but welcomes donations to support its work. The space will also include a shop which will include Queer Britain merchandise as well as books curated by Gay’s The Word, with all profits going directly back to support the museum and charity. Queer Britain is located at 2 Granary Square, London, N1C 4BH and open Wednesday to Sunday from 12pm – 6pm.
Queer Britain is the UK’s first national LGBTQ+ museum and is set to be arguably one of the most important museums to have launched in the UK in recent years. Co-founded in 2018 by Joseph Galliano, Queer Britain now has numerous team members and volunteers who have been working behind the scenes to bring the museum into reality. It will shine a light on the queer communities rich and complex histories becoming be an essential place for all, regardless of sexuality or gender identity, to discover the rich and diverse history and culture of LGBTQ+ people throughout the UK and beyond.