Islington Museum exhibition celebrates borough’s LGBTQ+ legacy

Islington Museum. Photograph: Stephen McKay / Islington Museum / CC BY-SA 2.0

Islington Museum has honoured its lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender heritage in its ongoing exhibition, Pride of Place.

The display at the St John’s Street institution incorporates spoken extracts, archive material, and an interactive map that helps visitors visualise the borough’s rich LGBTQ+ history.

Islington has been the backdrop to some important moments, being home to a number of well-known gay rights groups and campaigns, including Stonewall and the Gay Liberation Front.

A heritage assistant at the museum said: “This exhibition is important because Islington has been an epicentre of the gay community in the UK for decades, but it’s often overlooked.

“Despite all of this [heritage], many people don’t know how important the LGBTQ+ community has been to the life of Islington, and a lot of the spaces we previously had have disappeared and only exist in the memories of the people who experienced them at the time.

“By creating this exhibition, we hope to display those memories so that even though these spaces are gone, they can live on in the experiences and memories of a new generation of the LGBTQ+ community.”

This is not the first time that the museum has honoured its LGBTQ+ legacy.

In 2016, Islington Council launched an appeal for residents of the borough to submit items of note to celebrate a landmark gay rights protest on Highbury Fields – the first LGBTQ+ rights protest to take place in the UK.

Now, steeped in a proud history of propelling gay rights, Islington is once again paying tribute to the residents who have played a major part in the liberation of people all over the nation.

“The exhibition was based around some of the key pieces from our archive, as well as celebrating the launch of our digital map,” the heritage assistant continued.

“We decided to organise the it as a timeline of the LGBTQ+ community starting from the 1950s and going up to the present day, and spent a lot of time digging through the archive to pick out items that we thought were interesting, unique, or representative of a key point of the contemporary community landscape.

“We also wanted to use it as a space to amplify the voices of people who have played an important role in the LGBTQ+ community by making space to present clips from the oral histories that we conducted.”

The oral clips are also available to listen to through Islington Pride’s Youtube channel.

Pride of Place runs until 18 September at Islington Museum, 245 St John Street, EC1V 4NB.