A Trail of LGBTQ+ History

The Cornwall Museums Partnership awarded the newly formed Queer Kernow CIC with a grant to work with museums around the Duchy, with the goal of looking into their collections and finding the hidden LGBTQ stories within them. 

As this work took place during lockdown, Queer Kernow needed to think of ways to support our museums without physically being able to go into the stores. We developed a methodology for looking into queer history, which included: 

-The words we use today, such as ‘LGBT’ and ‘trans’, wouldn’t exist… Instead, we kept an eye out for historical terms such as queer and sapphism, as well as criminalised terminology (‘invert’, ‘tribade’, sodomy, and deviancy).

— We looked for historical terms to describe gender variance, such as ‘female husband’, gender/cross-dressing, and masquerading.

— We studied known queer artists and researched their spheres of influence, which often led to more information (for example, this is how we identified the intersections within the Lamorna Art Group). 

— In terms of mythology and folklore — do any stories mention gender variance or sexuality? For example, mermaids and their links with the Trans community. 

This isn’t an exhaustive list, it’s just a starting point. What it did do was allow Queer Kernow to research collections databases and work with curators by offering them keywords to search which led to the start of our journey uncovering areas of Queer Cornish History.  Check out our History Blog to uncover more of our work with museums in Cornwall.