Some of you may have been to the fascinating Schwules Museum in Berlin, a must for anyone interested in LGBTQ+ history, and in fact the first of its kind, open for well over thirty years.
So why has it taken so long for something similar to launch in the UK? Despite numerous events and exhibitions last year commemorating the 50th anniversary of the partial decriminalisation of male homosexuality, what they’re calling Queer Britain will be (unbelievably) the UK’s first bricks-and-mortar and long overdue LGBTQ+ museum.
Its simple aim is to shine a light onto its communities’ rich and complex history. The approximate opening date – should the campaign launching today be a success? A not-too-distant 2021.
“As Mayor, it’s so important to me that London is seen as a city where LGBTQ+ people feel valued, happy and safe,” says Sadiq Khan. “And this sends a clear message to the world that London is a beacon of diversity. I look forward to the opening of the new museum and the role it will play.”
Not only will the space – rumoured to be in Southwark – play host to a museum of permanent and temporary exhibits, it will be an essential resource for everyone to feel a part of the culture they have either been born into or seek to understand. Alongside exhibitions, Queer Britain will also host a number of multifaceted spaces to be used by the community.
Why have a museum at all dedicated to LGBTQ+ lives? In short, because so many have been, and some continue to be, led in private, leaving what co-founder (and ex Gay Times editor) Joseph Galliano calls “a gaping hole in British culture.”
“Many stories have been lost, forgotten or buried, and Queer Britain will preserve these vital accounts,” he says. “People came out of their closets, now it’s time to come out of the margins. Queer Britain will be the first national museum for all, regardless of sexuality and gender identity. It will fully celebrate and reflect the lives of LGBTQ+ people of all backgrounds. It will help complete the nation’s family tree.”
We’ll be documenting every step of its progress.
Photo credit: Police raid on a queer venue in Fitzroy Square, 1927, from The National Archives