Pride month is an opportunity to draw attention to consciously engaging with Queer cultural output. Whether that’s attending events, creating content on social media, or spending money on Queer founded ventures, celebrating queer culture is not only important but an enjoyable and life-enriching practice. Encouraging a greater sense of connection, creativity and consciousness in all that do.
But firstly, what is queer culture? Once a derogatory term, queer now is a socially embraced umbrella term for people who do not fit into the labels of heterosexuality and cisgender. But it’s more than a label. Queerness is a plastic term that is an expression, it can be anything you see, hear and experience in the world that steps outside the confines of heterosexuality and cisgender. And once you take that step, more than you could have ever imagined unfolds before you.
We’ve chosen to write about three moments and experiences of the last few months we’ve had that explore and celebrate queer culture in different ways and examine the impacts they have had on us.
Out and About! Archiving LGBTQ+ history at Bishopsgate Institute
This compelling free exhibition was held in The Curve at the Barbican earlier this year, where Bishopgate’s archival collection took centre stage to highlight the lived experiences of people in Britain, historically kept in the shadows of society.
The touching collection involved signs from gay rights protests, homemade badges, clothing and even an obituary book of AIDS victims, with handwritten signatures. The mix of ephemera and deeply emotional artefacts made for a humbling experience.
The programme of talks and guided conversations often hosted by those whose own stories were on display, adding a further layer of humanity to the exhibition, focussing in on the beauty and trauma of the lived queer experience in Britain of the past few decades. One key takeaway from Out and About exhibition was the harrowing reminder of the AIDS crisis and how, for many, they live with the memory of all that was lost during those years.
Out and about at the Barbican
The UK’s first national LGBTQ+ museum opened this year on the 5th of May in Kings Cross. Its mission is to highlight the many ways in which queer culture and individuals have impacted every part of society, to bring them out of
the margins and into the mainstream.
Queer Britain has existed as a haven for LGBTQ+ history, thoughts, and conversation, since 2018 and has worked in collaboration with ArtFund to secure it’s now permanent home in Granary Square.
The launch party for their permanent home was at Soho House Dean Street, and was a personal highlight of this year, with dancing models adorned in contemporary couture fashion and an intimate performance by the ethereal star, and DJ, Shygirl.
It was a moment for queer creatives from across the world to come together and admire their achievements, share their designs and expand their networks, a true testament to the impact Queer Britain is already having, and the importance of the organisation and the events it can have on individuals and industries.
Art Fund – Queer Britain opening 5th May
Fashioning Masculinities: The Art of Menswear
An exhibition at the V&A running until November 2022
Though not explicitly an exhibition focussed on Queer culture, this forensic investigation into what ‘menswear’ encompasses, how it looks, the change it drives in society, pushing forward ideas of gender, art and sexual identity is at the forefront of this exhibition.
There is something to be said for the heteronormative belief that menswear could never be as creative and inspiring as womenswear. Bound by the limitations of traditional masculinity, decoration, flamboyance, and excess in dressing has often been reserved in our imagination for womenswear.
These beliefs are confronted and largely dispelled, making this exhibition a must-go for anyone interested in questioning gender norms and getting under the skin of what performed masculinity really is. In a space created to examine masculinity, it was inspiring to see quite how queer it was.