Same-sex desire and gender identity

The evidence for same-sex desire and fluid ideas of gender has often been overlooked in the past, but museums and their collections can allow us to look back and see diversity throughout history.

Much of the historical evidence is centred around men and their concerns and often what survives is partial, fragmentary or ambiguous. Such things have often been hidden in history, and obscured by censorship, but now we realise the past is much ‘queerer’ than we have often thought.

This theme is based on an original web trail published on the Untold London website. Only some of these objects are on display. Some images contain explicit scenes, though these are shown small (click to see larger versions).

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Marble bust of the emperor Hadrian and Antinous

Marble bust of the emperor Hadrian, Italy, AD 117-118, and Antinous, Italy, AD 130-140




Trail

Ain Sakhri figurine

Follow a trail of objects on display in the British Museum.

Follow the trail 

Book

A Little Gay History: Desire and Diversity across the world

A Little Gay History: Desire and Diversity across the world, by Richard B. Parkinson is published by the British Museum Press.

Buy now