Last week, I met up with some friends for the day to check out the eagerly anticipated Queer Britain in London. Opening only recently in Spring 2022, Queer Britain is the first space in the UK dedicated to LGBTQ+ History.
Since 2018, when the organisers first announced the launch of Queer Britain, plans have been in motion to create “an inclusive place that promises to welcome everyone regardless of sexuality or gender identity”. And according to LGBT Activist, and trustee of Queer Britain, Lisa Power, Queer Britain “aims to tell our many and diverse histories”.
Britain is Queer!
Situated at Granary Square – just around the corner from Kings Cross Station and St. Pancras International – Queer Britain sits in one of the old (although newly refurbished!) warehouses; currently owned by the charity Art Fund. After a short walk from the station; through dancing water fountains and over grass-covered steps (if you fancy it), Queer Britain can be found right next to Canopy Market.
Located right next to the river, Queer Britain probably couldn’t be situated in a more perfect location to start their venture.
Arriving just before opening, we decided to take advantage of Geography and have a quick tour of Granary Market. London is full of these pop-up style markets, which is no bad thing. It means there’s often tons of variety. As it was a special day, and because I was child-free, I treated myself to not one, but two pastries from the market!
It was bliss and the perfect start to the day.
If you’re in the area, I highly recommend you pay the market a visit. As well as lots of delicious food; from pastries and cakes to deli items and hot food, the back of the market boasts lots of stalls selling art and crafts!
But enough about food, back to Queer Britain!
Valuable stories and artefacts are being lost.
Queer Britain is open between 12pm and 6pm from Wednesday to Sunday, and is closed Mondays and Tuesdays. Entry is free (and always will be!) and no booking is required. The space also boasts wheelchair accessibility, with ramps and on-site toilet facilities.
Queer people have impacted every part of culture, yet all too often their lives have been written in the margins of history books. Valuable stories and artefacts are being lost. Once gone, they may never be recovered. We are giving these a dedicated space to be preserved, explored and celebrated. Join us and let’s make history!Queer Britain
Within Queer Britain are four main galleries and a gift shop. Eventually, the site will house a workshop and an educational space, as well as offices for the team. It goes without saying, though, that the project is a work in progress. I entered expecting a small taster of what is to come, and that is exactly what I got. I was not disappointed.
Our community is rich with history!
Without spoiling what’s inside, Queer Britain offers an insight into British LGBTQ History. A lot of the imagery is dedicated to the 80’s and 90’s, with some imagery sitting within the current day. Although discussion is welcome, it was very noticeable how every person fell silent almost immediately upon entering the first gallery. It was certainly a reflection of what this means to our community.
I’m really looking forward to seeing how Queer Britain develops. I hope it won’t be too long before more historic imagery and cultural artefacts are added to the collection. Discussing the exhibition with my friends after, it would be really exciting to see the galleries change throughout the year. Perhaps offering new themes each time.
Our community is rich with history, which means the only thing I can’t get my head around right now is how Queer Britain are going to showcase it all! As mentioned, the space is small, so it’ll be interesting to see if they change the theme monthly to showcase it all or simply expand. It would be fantastic to be able to see a TV and Film theme, or a space dedicated to LGBT Black History!
I’m also keen to see whether more physical pieces – such as old flags and other memorabilia – will make an appearance. The thought of the space featuring special events dedicated to LGBTQ History is also really exciting to me. Plus, I can’t wait to see the gift shop grow!
If you’re in the area, or fancy taking a trip to London, I highly recommend popping into Queer Britain. Even if you’re not LGBTQ. It’s vital for our community’s legacy that our history is shared and kept alive for years to come. But, we need allies to spread the word too – which is why the space is welcome to all.
For me, I look forward to taking our son and showing him how his community came to be. Not only that, but what we fought for to get where we are today, and what we’re still fighting for.