The Pitt Rivers Museum will stage a launch event for LGBT+ History Month on Friday (November 15), to kick off celebrations for the month itself which will be celebrated in February 2020.
The free event, ‘Museum Late Night: Diversity’ will include a series of talks, tours of the museum, poetry, stalls and activities, as well as a diversity-themed light and sound show projected onto the Pitt Rivers and Museum of Natural History buildings.
The launch will be preceded by ‘Story Time with LGBT History Month: Stonewall,’ in which Stephen Boyce, the Chair of Trustees of the education charity Schools Out UK and LGBT+ History Month, will read an account of the 1969 Stonewall uprising for schoolchildren, narrated from the viewpoint of the building itself.
Boyce said: “Each year we find prestigious venues such as the Pitt Rivers Museum want to host the launch event, and each year more and more members of the general public want to be involved and included. Society is changing for the better; let’s keep up the fight for liberation, for all!”
Other speakers will include Dean Atta, author of ‘The Black Flamingo,’ which describes the coming-of-age story of a mixed-race gay teen who takes up drag at university, Caroline Paige, who served as the first openly transgender officer in the UK armed forces, Zayna Ratty, the chair of Oxford Pride, and Sue Sanders, founder of LGBT+ History Month.
Sanders, who initiated the first UK LGBT+ History Month as part of a Schools Out project in February 2005, told Cherwell: “We have been invisible for so long, and we came up with the idea for LGBT+ His- tory Month just after Section 28 died, and it was also at the time when the Labour government was talking about a single equality act, so we thought it was the per- fect time to launch a month that would celebrate LGBT.”
She said this year’s launch is different because “we’re teamed up with the Pitt Rivers Museum, and we’re very pleased to be a part of an institution’s celebration of the LGBTQ+ community.”
Ratty said she was “so proud to be included in such esteemed company” as the first person of colour to serve as chair of Oxford Pride, and added: “As we move forward through time, getting by pure effort similar rights to those who don’t identity [as LGBTQ+], we should remember those who came before us. In hosting this event the Pitt Rivers is publicly showing its commitment to diversity, learning and unlearning past narratives.
“I have had to silence myself at times to avoid being subject to multiple layers of discrimination from both inside and outside of the community and knowing that we all have a part in its future is why we do what we do.
“I know, if the graphics work, when I see the Pride branding projected onto the side of the building, I will have tears in my eyes.”
Numerous organisations will also form part of the event, including Blackwell’s, who will run an LGBTQ+ bookstall, and Pink Times and OX & Fyne Times are expected to among stallholders. Musical performers will include indie rock group Junk Whale, and Aphra Taylor, a folk and grunge artist, as well as Drag Syndrome, a drag troupe made up of performers with Down’s Syndrome.
Since 2005, museums have often been the sites of November launch events, with the British Library’s launch event in London taking place on November 14.