Desire, love, identity: exploring LGBTQ histories

A British Museum Partnership Exhibition

Generously supported by the Dorset Foundation


Tour schedule

Ashmolean Museum, Oxford 
25 September – 2 December 2018

National Justice Museum, Nottingham 
14 December 2018 – 3 March 2019

Bolton Museum 
15 March – 26 May 2019

Norwich & Norfolk Millennium Library 
8 June – 31 August 2019

Recommend this exhibition

Same-sex love and desire and gender diversity are integral to human experience. The way they have been expressed culturally has varied widely, globally and over time. This touring exhibition, developed in consultation with community partners, builds on Richard Parkinson’s award winning publication A Little Gay History: Desire and Diversity Across the World (2013), and two small displays at the British Museum around LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and queer) histories, which were programmed to coincide with the fiftieth anniversary of the passing of the Sexual Offences Act in 1967.

Ranging chronologically from ancient history to the present day, the display challenges us to question our assumptions about the past. As well as famous figures like the poet Sappho, and the Roman emperor Hadrian and his beautiful lover Antinous, the display also reflects the experiences and lives of those whose names are lost to us.

Modern and contemporary works by artists such Augusta Kaiser (1895-1932), Bhupen Khakar (1934-2003), David McDiarmid (1952-95) and Otsuka Takashi (b.1948) reflect more recent perspectives. David Hockney’s Fourteen Poems from CP Cavafy etchings were produced and published shortly before the passing of the Sexual Offences Act in July 1967 which partially decriminalised homosexuality in England and Wales. A selection of LGBTQ campaign badges from the 1970s to the present day highlight later (and ongoing) campaigns for equality and rights.

With the support of the Dorset Foundation, the exhibition will travel to four UK venues from September 2018 until August 2019.

Selection of LGBTQ+ campaign badges from the 1970s onwards, mixed media © Trustees of the British Museum