The museum contingent at Pride 2016. Photo (c) Dan Vo

Campaign for museum of gay history

Eleanor Mills, 23.11.2016
Pink cabinets across London symbolise ignored histories
Campaigners for a gay history museum in London have placed pink filing cabinets across the city to raise awareness.
 
There are a number of permanent exhibitions of gay art and history in other major cities, including the Leslie Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art in New York, and the Schwules Museum in Berlin. But London doesn’t have a space dedicated to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) history.

The move for a museum is deemed necessary because despite the huge role that LGBT people have played in the history of London and the UK their stories have often been marginalised.
 
The pink filing cabinets aim to symbolise the millions of stories involving LGBT Londoners that sit hidden in museum archives. Campaigners want these archival documents to be unearthed and form the base of a museum, which would chronicle London’s battle for equality.
 
Campaigners are appealing for support to mark next year’s 50th anniversary of the 1967 Sexual Offences Act, which relaxed laws against homosexuality.
 
Earlier this year, the Museums Association and the LGBT Staff Network marched at Pride to raise awareness of the 50th anniversary and promote museums as LGBT-friendly spaces. Staff from Royal Museums Greenwich, the Natural History Museum, Tate, the National Archives and the Science Museum also joined the parade.
 
Activist Salma Tiff said: “Unfortunately for most of us, our families often can’t or don’t teach us about our history simply because it’s not theirs.”
 
Jan Pimblett, the principal development officer at the London Metropolitan Archives, said: “An LGBTQ museum will be an important step in the mainstreaming of these rich and important histories.”
 
The pink filing cabinets can be seen in a number of locations across London, including   Vere St, Camden, the site of Victorian Molly houses, where gay Victorian men would meet secretly; 239 Kings Road, the location of  lesbian club Gateways; and the Royal Albert Hall, where Women’s Liberation activists protested at the Miss World pageant in 1970.


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