The Hastings Queer History Collective was formed in early 2020 as part of the museum’s What’s in the Box? project by local LGBTQI+ people interested in queer history and representation in museum collections.
The project, which has been funded by Arts Council England through a National Lottery Project Grant, has enabled the collective to work with the museum team, Home Live Art, E-J Scott (founder of the Museum of Transology) and New Writing South to choose objects that reflect their lives and experience as queer people living in and around Hastings.
The objects are on display in the museum until August 29.
Videos made by the collective exploring the history of the objects can be viewed on the museum’s website http://www.hmag.org.uk/.
These will also feature as part of the Pride window display in the old Debenhams building from August 17 to 30.
If you would like to find out more or join the Hastings Queer History Collective and get involved in upcoming projects, email [email protected]
Cllr Paul Barnett, lead for regeneration, said: “This collection offers a real insight into the experiences of LGBTQI+ people locally.
“It is great to see so many talented people from across our town getting involved and sharing their stories.
“I would highly recommend a trip to Hastings Museum & Art Gallery so that you can see these objects in person.”
Cllr Judy Rogers, lead for equalities, added: ““It is really good to see our Museum & Art Gallery establishing new relationships with our different communities.
“And I am especially pleased to see this display in the lead up to Hastings Pride on August 29.”
Some of the items on display include Hastings and Rother Rainbow Alliance Newsletters produced by Bar.
These publications contained information about support, events and social groups, helping to bring the local LGBTIQ+ community together. These newsletters will be joining the museum’s permanent collection.
Bar, a Queer History Collective member, explained: “These rainbow alliance newsletters say loudly: we are here, we matter, we are human beings who deserve to live our lives without prejudice or discrimination.”
Also included is Gen’s collection of heartbreak ephemera which features Wombats and Coldplay lyrics and relatable heartbreak objects illustrating the downside of love.
Gen, Hastings Queer History Collective member, said: “Love is love. We hear it everywhere . . .
“ut what does it mean? I think what we really have in common regardless of sexuality is heartbreak.
“I think it should be ‘heartbreak is heartbreak.’”
There is also the Marianne North Queer Adventurer Plaque. Designer Zed created a blue plaque to acknowledge all the queer ancestors whose love and identity has been lost to history.
Zed, Hastings Queer History Collective member, explained: “The expectation when we look back is that unless there are filthy diaries, witnesses, or hard evidence of queerness. We default to heterosexuality. It actually makes more sense to assume that all historical spinsters and bachelors were queer.”