1895, the trial of Oscar Wilde. 2017, the pardoning of gay men by the "Alan Turing Law"

How far have we come in 122 years?


Queer City, Oscar Wilde


The British Library’s new free exhibition and accompanying events programme explore these stories of love, legislative change and the battles for equality experienced by gay men and women in the UK


50 years, after the Sexual Offences Act partially decriminalised homosexuality, the exhibition and events programme looks at the build-up to this monumental step, its impact, and asks what challenges still remain.


Jim Al-Khalili will host an evening of exploring the life work and legacy of one of the greatest scientific minds Alan Turing in July. Now celebrated for his crucial contribution to the allied victory in WW2, in his lifetime Turing was a relatively obscure figure and a victim of the prevalent attitudes towards homosexuality.


Proud Poetry: Andrew McMillan, photo credit- Urszula Soltys


Gay writers, characters and experience take centre stage as a roll-call of lesbian and gay poets including Maureen Duffy, Jackie Kay and Andrew McMillan read from their own work and choose their champions from poetry past on 1 August, and performance continues when Christopher Green becomes the ‘wavy-haired, blue-eyed Adonis’ from 1885 Fred Barnes later in the month. Barnes’ hit song and outrageous appearance made him both a star and were the architects of his downfall, and the delve into gay experience in literature continues as panel of professional translators explore the ethics of translating sexual identities in September.


Proud Poetry: Richard Scott, The Opera Hour


Also in the season, London becomes the focus for Queer City, looking at the history of urban transgression and the role of the metropolis, while Freedom – what it feels like and where it comes from – will be explored by novelist, playwright, director and performer Neil Bartlett and his guests.


Rounding off the season in September, from the cabaret stage to inside the homes of millions David Bowie Made Me Gay will consider the transformation, impact and influence of LGBTQ+ music makers with a panel of speakers including Simon Fanshawe and Darryl Bullock.



The exhibition and events programme encourage you to ask - how have perceptions of homosexuality changed and what impact have they had in creating distinctive and dynamic gay identities in the UK?




For more information, visit bl.uk/events/gay-uk-love-law-liberty.



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