The Guardian

'Shout queer!' The museums bringing LGBT artefacts out of the closet

From Michelangelo’s suggestive David to a gender-fluid Hindu deity, cultural institutions are digging into their vaults to display once-hidden objects of same-sex desire and gender nonconformity
‘Incredibly problematic’ … Mara Gold leads an Alternative Pride Talks tour of the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford. The V&A also offers an LGBTQ tour. Photograph: Alecsandra Raluca Dragoi/The Guardian

‘Let’s let them know we’re all here,” says Dan Vo, addressing a crowd of at least 100 in a space just off the domed entrance hall of London’s Victoria and Albert Museum. It’s the hottest day of the year so far, and the people fanning themselves with gallery maps have come to join the monthly LGBTQ tour, which Vo, a volunteer, helped set up four years ago. “On the count of three,” he bellows, “we’re just going to shout ‘queer’ – celebrating Stonewall, remembering how hard we fought to be here. One, two, three…” The word echoes off the barrel vaults of the sculpture hall and subsides as we head off in different directions – the tour is so popular that the group has to be split into at least six parties. Visitors are shown 10 or so objects throughout the museum, from a to a sandstone sculpture of half-female, half-male deity

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