‘Preserve, explore and celebrate' – first LGBTQ+ museum opens

Opening display looks at history and day-to-day lives of LGBTQ people

Friday, 6th May — By Isabelle Stanley

Winner-'David Hoyle' by Sadie Lee

Sadie Lee’s portrait of performance artist David Hoyle’

THE country’s first national LGBTQ+ museum has opened to the public to “preserve, explore and celebrate” queer history.

Established by charity Queer Britain, the museum is in Granary Square, Coal Drops Yard, King’s Cross.

An opening display “Welcome to Queer Britain” features highlights from the museum’s collection, exploring both the history and day-to-day lives of LGBTQ people.

Spread over a series of exhibits in three rooms on one floor, the first room showcases the winners of the inaugural Queer Britain prize, themed “Queer Creativity”.

Runner-up Paul Harfleet, whose submission is “Cock of the Rock”, draws birds and then designs his own outfits to reference the birds, in joint portraits.

Winner Sadie Lee, created a portrait of performance artist David Hoyle, as part of her series “Pin Ups”.

Next, in a series titled “Chosen Families”, vivid, colourful group portraits capture how “LGBTQ+ people have often constructed their own ‘chosen families’, and draw strength, comfort, fun and support from them”.

Paul Harfleet’s ‘Cock of the Rock’

As you move around the room, the exhibition tells the story of the gay rights movement, starting in the 1870s. Photos depict the trials of Michael Pitt-Rivers, Peter Wildeblood and Jeremy Thorpe, next to the unveiling of the plaque for Oscar Wilde.

Pictures of Lady Diana greeting HIV patients, challenging the stigma of the virus, can be seen next to posters from an Aids awareness campaign.

The latest exhibit showcases work from Allie Crewe who photographs people who desire transformation, seeking “narratives of survival, resilience, growth and change”.

Speaking about the subjects of her photographs, she said: “Grace is a doctor and Milo a counsellor. They heal others. They have each faced trauma and grown after that experience.

“They are both astonishing and beautiful people. Judge them by their actions, not their gender identity. A portrait bears witness to greatness.”

Her message fits with the general theme of the museum: acceptance. Designed to provide a home and space for long-buried or mistold stories, the museum is a first of its kind.

The museum has a series of exhibitions planned with the first opening in July to celebrate the 50-year anniversary of the UK’s first pride parade.

Free to enter, the museum is open from 12-6pm Wednesday to Sunday.

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