Politics & Culture

Seven Tours and Exhibitions That Reflect on LGBTQ History

This is a crucial moment for LGBTQ support and visibility.
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Near the end of October, The New York Times revealed that the Trump administration had plans to redefine the meaning of “sex,” subsequently stripping the civil and legal rights of transgender Americans and proving what many knew to be true—that this administration has zero respect for the broad LGBTQIA demographic.

But while the LGBTQIA community has been targeted by governmental figures throughout history, it has survived and flourished. So in a testament to the adaptability of this demographic, we're rounding up seven museums and cultural tours within the United States that preserve and celebrate America’s rainbow history.

And yes, we’re including ALL LGBTQIA people—not just cis white gay men.

1.Oscar Wilde Tours

Named after the infamous, gay Victorian author, this tour will take you through the Metropolitan Museum of Art's vast collections, focusing on manifestations of homoeroticism in all mediums. From the sculpture of Antinous to Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec’s 1895 painting The Sofa, the tour takes a more classical art approach to queer history. This is a perfect activity for arts and history fans alike.

2. Leslie - Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art

Created to “preserve LGBTQ identity and build community,” this institution is dedicated to preserving art and archives centered around LGBTQIA identity. With exhibition titles like Trans-Atlar: Sol Aramendi & Lunicorns and Fierce Pussy: And So Are You, the museum isn’t shy about it’s more provocative perspectives. Leslie-Lohman also collects a series of community voices, allowing people of all queer experiences to voice their opinions on their website.

Located in New York’s SoHo district, take a walk through modern queer identity here.

3. Lesbian Herstory Archives

Often times we only recognize the G in LGBTQIA and ignore the rest. But this museum in Brooklyn's Park Slope neighborhood aims to change that. With several traveling exhibitions and many permanent collections on-site, this museum celebrates the lesbian experience. Whether you want books, journals, photos, tapes, or other materials that preserve queer feminist dialogues, they’ve got it.

4. National Museum: LGBT History & Culture

Founded by The Velvet Foundation, this museum was created to “showcase the social, historical, and cultural contributions of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community to US society.” One of the larger archives on this list, it carries pieces from artists and activists like Frank Kamey and features various community outreach programs.

Definitely taking a more academic approach to LGBTQIA identity, the National Museum is a must-view for anybody doing historical research. You can visit them on 42nd Street in NYC.

5. Leather Archives & Museum

While LGBTQIA culture has entered the mainstream conversation, it would be irresponsible to ignore the leather scene. Possibly one of the most well-known subcultures in holisitc gay culture, you’ll find all the references in this Chicago institute, including a library, photos, clothing, and various fetish gear, this museum is definitely for those 18 and older. Visit them on Greenview Ave, in Chicago.

6. GLBT Historical Society Museum & Archives

Founded in 1985, the GLBT Historical Society is located where American LGBTQIA culture all started: San Francisco. Plus, this museum offers both online and in-person exhibitions, one of which is Briggs Initiative: A Scary Proposition, marking the 40th anniversary of the defeated ballot measure that tried to ban gays and lesbians from teaching in public schools. Visit them between Castro & Collingwood in San Francisco.

7. One Archives Foundation

The community partner that supports ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives at the University of Southern California (USC) Libraries, this is the oldest active LGBTQ organization in America.

If you’re interested in academic approaches, you can visit the USC campus, however, if you’re looking for an exhibition, you can visit their West Hollywood out post. Current shows include Distortions by Michael Childers and A Grammar Built With Rocks. Go to Robertson BLVD in West Hollywood to see the shows.

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