Peace Out is a project exploring Peace and LGBTQ+ activism by The Peace Museum.
The exhibition first launched in 2019 on the occasion of 50 years since the Stonewall Riots in the museum’s main galleries. It has now been updated and made digital for 2021.
The exhibition aims to explore the journey from Stonewall, a moment in history that exemplifies violence perpetrated against LGBTQ+ people and their violent retaliation, and marks the beginning of the following struggle for equality and justice. It will share the stories of those who have peacefully campaigned for LGBTQ+ rights and equality and explore the impact LGBTQ+ people have had on peacemaking.
The museum team worked with members of LGBTQ+ communities to co-create this exhibition. The project is part of a wider commitment to contemporary collecting to ensure our collection tells the stories of peacemakers today.
We are busy planning an events programme and we are hoping that the exhibition can reach people in person across spaces in Bradford. Keep an eye on our social media and the events page of our website for updates!
The first exhibition in the galleries was supported with funding from Museum Development Yorkshire. Peace OUT+ for 2021 was made possible thanks to funding from the Art Fund.
The language we use is incredibly important, as language is a reflection of society. In relation to the LGBTQ+ community, there are different terms used. The following will explain some of the choices that have been made for the purposes of this exhibition. We realise that these may not be the chosen terms used by everyone.
LGBTQ+ stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Trans, Queer and plus for everyone else. LGBTQ+ encompasses all different gender and sexual identities and recognises the huge diversity in the community. At different points in LGBTQ+ history, different labels have been used. Throughout the exhibition we will use the terms that people at that time would have used.
Since the medieval period ‘queer’ has been used as an insult. However, it wasn’t until the trial of the gay poet and author Oscar Wilde in 1895 that the term began to be widely used as a homophobic slur. During the early years of the gay liberation movement in the 60s and 70s, a lot of emphasis was put on the idea that gay and lesbian people were just ‘normal people’ who looked like everybody else, acted like everybody else, and wanted the same things as everybody else. In the 80s and 90s activists started to push back against what had become a space dominated by white, middle class and cisgender activists. These activists reclaimed the word queer, making it a label to be proud of instead of one to fear. They also used the word queer to signal that they didn’t want to change themselves to fit into a straight world. Instead, they wanted the freedom and security to live their lives however they wanted to, without the pressure to conform to society's norms.
Since then, queer has become more of an umbrella term for everyone who doesn’t fit into society’s strict sexual and gender binaries. ‘Queer theory’ has also become an area of serious academic study. Queer theorists look at how all our lives are limited by society’s strict gender binary.
Where gender is about what’s in your mind, sex is about your body. How we understand sex is still evolving and we know now that there are more than just two sexes – male, female and different types of intersex people. Some things that might be considered when determining someone’s sex are: their genitals, sex chromosomes (their DNA), hair distribution, height, breast tissues etc. It’s important to remember that sex is the overall picture of these factors, not just one of them by itself.
In European and American cultures, it was common to believe that there were only two genders, something some people still believe today. At different points throughout history and in other cultures however, there have been and are many more recognised genders.
Gender is often expressed in terms of masculinity and femininity, and assumed based on someone’s sex assigned at birth. In society we also have gender roles: these are expectations that men should behave a certain way and women a different way. Queer and feminist studies have done a lot of work to criticise these gender roles, in order to give us the freedom to act how we want, not how we are expected to.
Your gender identity is not how you look or how you act but how you feel. Most people’s gender identity matches the sex they were assigned at birth. This is called being cisgender. For example, a cisgender woman is someone who was assigned the sex female at birth and who also identifies as a woman.
Cisgender is used in contrast to transgender. Someone is transgender when the gender they identify as is not the same as the sex they were given at birth. For example, someone who was assigned female at birth but who identifies as a man is transgender. The term transgender has become increasingly popular in recent years, but before that terms like transsexual, transvestite and cross-dresser were used as catch-all terms for anyone who’s gender identity or expression did not match their assigned sex. While we recognise that trans folk do not commonly use these terms to describe themselves today, we have tried to use the terms used by individuals used to describe themselves in this exhibition.
Pronouns like he/him or she/her are a reflection of how a person’s gender identity is perceived by others. As such, it’s important to use a person’s preferred pronouns both out of politeness and respect, but also to show that you recognise that person's gender expression is valid. Some people prefer to use non binary pronouns, and while there has been an effort to make new pronouns like zie or zir, the most commonly used gender neutral pronoun is ‘they’. Grammar nuts might complain at first with this one, but let’s remember language is a tool of humans – we make the rules, and if society changes then we should change our language to reflect it.
This describes who people are attracted to both romantically and sexually. While there is still debate over whether sexuality is a spectrum or a number of different options, it is widely accepted that there are numerous different sexualities beyond straight or gay. These include, pansexual, bisexual, asexual, and demisexual to name a few.