Prejudice and Pride: LGBTQ heritage and its contemporary implications
reportposted on 20.09.2018, 14:23 authored by Richard Sandell, Rachael Lennon, Matt Smith, Anna Lincoln
Over the past decade or so, stories of same-sex love and desire and gender diversity have been slowly gaining increased (if, still, uneven and partial) visibility in heritage sites, museums and galleries in many parts of the world. In England and Wales, the fiftieth anniversary of the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality in 2017 provided the impetus for an unprecedented number of cultural organisations to explore and publicly present queer histories. At the same time, it would be inaccurate to assume from this increased cultural activity, an onward progression of ever-greater openness or a neat and uninterrupted trajectory of growing inclusion, equality and respect. Indeed, many have noted that LGBTQ-themed narratives are often temporary and tentative, sometimes controversial and often privilege some lives and identities over others. Prejudice and Pride: LGBTQ heritage and its contemporary implications reflects on this context and addresses three interlinked research questions; 1. How can heritage organisations uncover, understand and interpret the lives of people closely linked to their sites who challenged conventions of sexuality and gender diversity? 2. How can we understand the contemporary significance of queer/ LGBTQ public heritage for visitors, LGBTQ communities and society more broadly? 3. How might these narratives be used to engage diverse audiences in contemporary debates surrounding LGBTQ history, culture and equality? Prejudice and Pride: LGBTQ heritage and its contemporary implications emerges from the collaboration between the National Trust and the University of Leicester’s Research Centre for Museums and Galleries (RCMG) that shaped an ambitious and large scale research-led public programme. Looking forward as well as back, the contributors collectively aim to stimulate and enrich new thinking and practice in a field that – despite significant advances in recent years – has nevertheless proved to be challenging and sometimes highly controversial. Whilst some of these challenges are undoubtedly specific to the field of queer heritage, many also resonate with attempts to reveal other hidden or marginalised histories, efforts to use these histories to speak to contemporary social concerns, and initiatives that seek to engage audiences in a more critical approach to the way we understand the past.