LGBT activists install blue plaques on London landmarks

Eleanor Mills, 22.02.2017
Sexual Avengers group aims to create "living museum" of queer history
Sexual Avengers, a group of LGBT activists, today installed blue plaques on landmarks across London to create a "living museum" of queer history.

Plaques were installed at the House of Lords, The Admiral Duncan pub in Soho, and Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens.

According to a statement issued by the group, the plaques are designed to subvert English Heritage’s commemorative blue plaques, and bring sites of queer history to public attention.

The campaign, titled #Yesterqueer, is the first direct action by the group, which would like to create a permanent home in London for queer history.

The group states that one-third of London’s queer spaces have closed in the past three years, and the campaign "draws attention to how radical queer history has been systematically hidden and co-opted to fit a particular, sanitised version of 'gay'".

Sexual Avenger Tabitha Quirke, said: "English Heritage, the National Trust and London's museums are starting to do some good work on queer history and we whole-heartedly support that.

"But we don't want our story to be told by institutions that are ultimately bound up in the hetero-normative cultural hegemony of Britain, we want to tell our story ourselves and be loudly, radically and unapologetically queer. The DIY aspect is very important to us."

Quirke said a museum might not take the form of a staid, exclusionary, expensive space, but could be a living, dynamic hub in which all queer people would be welcome regardless of identity, education, or wealth.

Lesbian activists abseiled down the House of Lords in February 1988 to protest Section 28, legislation stating that any local authority "shall not intentionally promote homosexuality or publish material with the intention of promoting homosexuality" or "promote the teaching in any maintained school of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship".

The Admiral Duncan pub in Soho was the home of Black Pride, the UK’s only queer pride event organised by people of colour, and the target of a neo-Nazi nail bomb on 30 April 1999 that saw three people lose their their lives and 70 people injured.

Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens is the current site of the UK’s only pride event organised by and run for people of colour, from 2005 to the present day.

The group is planning further commemorations at a number of other queer history sites in London.

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