UK LGBTQ+ Museum opens ‘The Start of Something Beautiful’

The opening of the UK's first-ever LGBTQ+ museum is the'beginning of something beautiful'

LGBTQ+ history to be ‘preserved, explored and celebrated’ in space (Image: Queer Britain)

Almost 50 years after England’s first Pride March, the opening of a dedicated LGBTQ+ museum is considered by many to be long overdue.

Rather than being ‘tucked away’ or ‘tucked away in a back room’, the building stands proud in Granary Square, King’s Cross, London.

The first UK Pride March was held just a few miles away between Hyde Park and Trafalgar Square in 1972.

The march is featured among the photographs in the Queer Britain Museum, along with other key moments in Britain’s LGBTQ+ history.

The contents of the museum are closely intertwined with its employees.

Front-of-house manager Stephanie Stevens first joined Queer Britain as a volunteer and was keen to “get involved in some way”.

She told Metro.co.uk: “As a trans woman who identifies as queer, it meant so much to me that I wanted to get involved in some way.

“Having an entire room dedicated to LGBTQ+ history is just amazing.

PRIDE - June 7: The first LGBTQ+ museum of its kind opens in London Image:

Stephanie and her colleagues said it’s been an emotional first month (Image: Queer Britain)
Displays allow visitors to look back at key moments in Britain’s LGBTQ+ history (Image: Queer Britain)

“It’s so normal to have gratitude for being in the back of another room, tucked away in a back room.

“It is long overdue to have our own museum, we have needed it for a long time.

“We’re in the middle of London, standing shoulder to shoulder with huge institutions.”

The exhibition, aptly named Welcome to Queer Britain, is the museum’s inaugural exhibition.

It lasts until July and extends over several rooms. It features key images from across the history of Britain’s fight for LGBTQ+ rights.

Section 28, the law banning the “promotion of homosexuality” by councils, introduced by the Thatcher government in 1988, is presented.

However, images of happier occasions such as the legalization of equal marriage in England, Wales and Scotland – and later Northern Ireland – are also depicted.

The exhibition also features key figures such as the late Maureen Colquhoun, Britain’s first openly lesbian MP.

In her photo, she looks defiantly at the museum visitors, who are pictured at a march with the Gay Defense Committee in 1997.

The staff say the exhibition aims to highlight the work of so many prominent activists, which is often omitted or limited to just a few sentences in the history books.

Queer Britain wants community history to be “preserved, explored and celebrated”.

Stephanie said: “It was really moving for all of us on opening day.

“There are employees who have personally experienced things like Section 28 and have seen major changes over the years. Now people can see that progress in the museum.”

The museum is ‘slap-bang’ in the middle of London (Image: Queer Britain)
The “Welcome to Queer Britain” exhibition runs until July (Image: Queer Britain)

The museum gives hope and inspiration to many, including Stephanie.

“For me, I identified as trans in rural Cornwall. I transitioned through secondary school from the age of 12.

“I went to a support group, but it was tucked away on a side street. It was hidden, we were encouraged not to be proud.

“So it’s amazing to have a place where people can safely come together and celebrate the community.

“There are still steps to be taken, but we are moving in the right direction.”

The temporary exhibition serves as an introduction to Queer Britain and its mission (Image: Queer Britain)

Thousands have passed through Queer Britain since it opened. While some have traveled from all corners of the UK to visit, others have accidentally stumbled across the space.

Queer Britain co-founder and director Joseph Galliano was the driving force behind the bid to open the museum.

He had been brewing his idea for such a space since 2007, but it wasn’t until he visited the Queer British Art exhibition at Tate Britain that his vision took it to a higher level.

The former editor of Gay Times Magazine said he was “so proud” of the achievement.

He said: “This is a hugely important step as the UK opens the doors of its own national LGBTQ+ museum: the start of something beautiful.

“We welcome any feedback from our visitors and see this opening ahead of our debut exhibition as a real opportunity to engage with the public and learn what to expect from the Queer Britain space so that over time we can really be able to change and develop further.”

Sadie Lee’s oil painting of cabaret artist David Hoyle features in the exhibition (Image: Queer Britain)

He is supported by a dedicated team of staff and volunteers.

Queer Britain’s board also includes Lisa Power, a co-founder of Stonewall, and Tom Mehrtens, the former Chief Operating Officer of London Southbank University.

The museum’s current location at King’s Cross is on a temporary lease made possible through a deal with the Art Fund.

A “home for eternity” is to be found later, but in a similarly central location.

Before June, we hope more people can walk through the door of the museum and be proud together.

Stephanie added: “Queer Britain is a safe place for people to come together, especially after Covid has shut down so many things.

“We are here to educate everyone, the community and allies, about the history of the LGBTQ+ movement.

“This is an inclusive place for people to visit, it’s so much more than just a building.”

The inaugural Welcome To Queer Britain exhibition will remain open through Pride weekend, ending on July 4th. A new exhibition will open in July.

Visit the Queer Britain website for more information.

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at webnews@metro.co.uk.

For more stories like this, Visit our news page.


Metro.co.uk celebrates 50 years of pride

This year we are celebrating 50 years of Pride so it only seems fitting that Metro.co.uk goes above and beyond in our ongoing LGBTQ+ support with a wealth of content that not only celebrates all things Pride, but also share stories, take time to reflect and raise awareness for the community this Pride month.

MORE: Find all of Metro.co.uk’s Pride coverage here

And we also have some big names on board to help us. From a list of famous guest editors taking over the site for a week, including Rob Rinder, Nicholas Adams, Peter Tatchel, Kimberly Hart Simpson, John White, Anna Richardson and Dr Ranjwe will also have the likes Sir Ian McKellen and drag race stars the vivienne, Lawrence Chaney and Tia Kofi offer their insights.

During Pride Month, which runs June 1-30, Metro.co.uk is also supporting Kyiv Pride, a Ukrainian charity forced to work harder than ever to protect the rights of the LGBTQ+ community in times of conflict , as well as the youth homelessness charity AKT. To learn more about their work and what you can do to support them, click here.

https://metro.co.uk/2022/06/16/opening-of-uks-lgbtq-museum-start-of-something-beautiful-16689013/ UK LGBTQ+ Museum opens 'The Start of Something Beautiful'

Justin Scacco

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