This February, National Museums Liverpool (NML) is to reveal the untold histories and lived experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people as part of LGBT+ History Month as never before.
This year’s theme is ‘Body, Mind, Spirit’ and NML has curated a special collection of exciting commissions online which document the history, lives and experiences of the community.
These exclusive works include insightful interviews and opinion pieces inspired by NML’s rich collections and commitment to sharing the experiences of Liverpool’s long and diverse LGBT+ history.
In addition to the online programme there will be a House of Suarez Vogue Ball dress on display in the window of the Museum of Liverpool from 25 January. This epic, sweeping gown and headpiece were specially commissioned for Liverpool River Festival in 2019 and the design was inspired by Liverpool’s seafaring history. The dress then went on to strut its stuff in the House of Suarez Vogue Ball, where the fiercest voguers and performers battled it out in an underwater themed spectacular.
The online programme is still growing but highlights already confirmed include:
- Commissioned works, including new poetry from local writer Felix Mufti-Wright.
- Insightful interviews with leading figures in Liverpool’s LGBT+ community including Detective Sgt. Christian Owens of Merseyside Police and Caroline Paige, the first openly Transgender Officer in the British Armed Forces.
- A digital display of artistic responses from members of the public who were invited to submit works representing LGBT+ people, places and events that mean something to them.
- Exploration of ‘Hidden Histories’ including Polari, a coded language historically spoken by gay men.
- Focus on figures such as gay codebreaker Alan Turing and his contribution to Artificial Intelligence.
- A back-to-basics guide with a mini-LGBT+ Dictionary, timeline of LGBT+ history and round-up of famous activists and scientists to follow.
- An exploration of LGBT+ Art History across National Museums Liverpool’s venues, including classics such as Simeon Solomon’s ‘Mystery of Faith’ from the Lady Lever Art Gallery’s collection and the work of Rosa Bonheur at Sudley House.
National Museums Liverpool has a long history of bringing together Liverpool’s multi-faceted past.
Kay Jones, lead curator of community history, said: “Although we’re unable to come together physically for LGBT+ History Month, we want to unite people through this online festival which celebrates the stories and experiences of LGBT+ people, past and present. We are still adding to the online programme and are hoping to add more in-venue elements once we can re-open. The House of Suarez dress in the window of the Museum of Liverpool will offer a fierce and fascinating physical presence during February. Visitors will be able to see it up close and personal when we open our doors again.”
Matt Exley, Learning and Participation Manager and Co-Chair of NML’s LGBT+ Staff Network said: “A journey through Liverpool’s LGBT+ history – from gay life at sea and in port to the modern gay quarter round Stanley Street – is both rewarding and fascinating. From LGBT+ terminology and timelines, to hard-hitting interviews and hidden histories, this collection of editorial content examines both historical and contemporary explorations of sexuality and gender.
“We are particularly excited to be able to showcase a series of contributions from members of Liverpool’s LGBT+ community, responding artistically to the important people, places, and events in their lives. We are also proud to be working closely with GYRO (Gay Youth R Out), the UK’s oldest LGBT+ youth group, on a project to explore activism and capture their hopes for the future.”
This celebration of LGBT+ History month is part of National Museums Liverpool’s wider commitment to human rights, social justice and equality for all, and is one of the most important events in our calendar. We hope that by uncovering the wealth of objects in our collections that reflect LGBT+ lives, histories and culture, we can help to make these stories more widely known.
LGBT+ History month, organised by Schools OUT UK – The LGBT+ Education Charity, takes place every February and aims to educate and promote equality and diversity.
More details about the programme will be released on our social media channels and website: https://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/lgbt-history