Please note: This display has concluded, however an object trail and touring exhibition based on this it is currently active. Please see the updated Desire, Love Identity page for further details.

Desire, love, identity
exploring LGBTQ histories

11 May – 15 October 2017

Room 69a

Supported by Stephen & Julie Fitzgerald.


Follow a free trail in the galleries 


Find out more in this online exhibit 


Recommend this exhibition

British and American badges from the 1970s onwards. Plastic, paper and metal.

This display offers glimpses into LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer) histories, experiences and lives by examining objects from around the world, covering ancient civilisations right up to today.

The ways same-sex desire, love and gender diversity have been expressed culturally has varied significantly throughout history, and across the globe. From prominent figures of the classical world like the Roman emperor Hadrian and his lover Antinous to modern-day drag queens in Japan, this show presents stories that have often been overlooked or underrepresented.

This year marks 50 years since the Sexual Offences Act was passed, a law that partially decriminalised homosexuality in England and Wales. This landmark moment in the movement for equality is charted in the display with campaign badges that show how the push for equality has changed over time. Coins, prints and small sculptures represent past, recent, and ongoing expressions of same-sex desire, love and identity.

The Museum has longstanding relationships with LGBTQ organisations, and the expertise and experience of individuals within these groups has helped shape the content of this display.

A trail featuring objects in the permanent galleries that relate to LGBTQ histories will also accompany the show.

This show is part of a season looking at LGBTQ histories, including a display of David Hockney’s etchings based on Cavafy’s poems in Room 90a from March to May 2017.

You can also explore the range, diversity and complexity of same-sex experiences through time with the book A Little Gay History, available in the Museum shops.