Why LGBTQ Places Matter
Place gives a sense of belonging. The built environment is where we have lived, loved, socialised and taken shelter. Not only does it meet our needs, it reflects our lives and desires.
Video: Author Sarah Waters introduces Pride of Place
Every place in England has a queer history. But there is no tidy history of the LGBTQ past. Some places are significant because they were used to escape hostility towards same-sex love or gender diversity.
In certain periods, however, queer behaviour was ignored or even accepted. Contrary to common belief, queer people were not always considered deviant.
LGBTQ people have long used public and private buildings, parks and streets to create our own cultures. Even though our identities are expressed differently today, having a knowledge of this heritage gives LGBTQ people a sense of long-established communities.
Video: Author Sarah Waters on queer places in the past
Powerful institutions of the past, such as schools or monasteries, have been locations of same-sex relationships, as well as places that issued warnings and decrees about these desires.
Our historical landmarks have LGBTQ connections. Roman Emperor Hadrian, who ordered the construction of Hadrian’s Wall in the north of England, had relationships with men. Most notable was his relationship with Antinous.
Many more types of buildings and places are significant to LGBTQ heritage. Stories of suburban streets, dockyards, factories, courtrooms and palaces are told in the web pages below. Many of our historic houses, homes of the affluent and elite, contain secrets of the queer past – although these stories often remain invisible to visitors today.