05:05, February 28 258 0 theguardian.com

2018-02-28 05:05:05
Queer Britain museum 'an overdue resource'

A campaign to create a new national museum, called Queer Britain, which would celebrate the richness and diversity of the nation’s LGBTQ+ inheritance, is being launched in London today.

“It is a necessary and long overdue resource,” said Joe Galliano, a former editor of Gay Times, and leader of the campaign. “We don’t underestimate the challenge, but artefacts and people’s stories are being lost every day and we need to save them. Already many of the people – inevitably mainly men – who directly experienced the situation before the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality in 1967, are no longer with us.”

Galliano added: “In literature, in sport, in art, in engineering, in science, there is no aspect of life in Britain in which LGBTQ people have not had an influence. It is time their stories were told and celebrated.”

Although many museums and institutions, including the National Trust, British Museum and British Library marked the anniversary of the law change last year, Galliano said there was a danger people would now think the job was done. “It’s time we took up the challenge and told this story ourselves,” he said.

The group has identified a potential site in Southwark, south London, for the museum and hope to see a building open there in 2021 serving also as a visitor attraction and social centre. Galliano, who has experience in corporate fundraising, acknowledged that the cost would be “many millions”, both to establish and run the centre.

“We see it as a place, for instance, where a young woman who has just come out to her parents could visit with them, and understand that this is a much deeper, richer history than most people realise.”

The campaign will be formally launched at a reception in the Cafe Royal, London, which has its own place in gay history, having been a favourite hangout of Oscar Wilde, the place where the writer first met “Bosie”, or Lord Alfred Douglas, the lover who would ultimately spark the former’s downfall in a calamitous court case and imprisonment in Reading gaol.

Topics