Map Marks UK Places of Historic Importance for the LGBTQ Community

Oscar Wilde, Alan Turing, and many others honored on the map.

Playwright Oscar Wilde (1882) Photo: wcbg.org
Playwright Oscar Wilde (1882)
Photo: wcbg.org
Chevalier d'Eon<br> Photo: via the <i>Independent</i>

Chevalier d’Eon
Photo: via the Independent

UK historians have been delving into the past to create a national map of locations important to LGBTQ culture.

Pride of Place, organized by Historic England, is an interactive map of the UK where visitors can also log in and add their own contributions. The project seeks to “identify the locations and landscapes associated with England’s LGBTQ heritage,” according to the site.

“The project is looking at national recognition of LGBTQ heritage,” said Rosie Sherrington, social inclusion and diversity adviser at Historic England. “I think it’s really important, largely because it hasn’t been formally recognized before. There aren’t any buildings listed entirely due to their lesbian and gay relevance.”

So far, the map includes The Shim Sham, a gay friendly bar opened in Soho in 1935; Bletchley Park, where Alan Turing broke the Enigma code during WWII; Reading Gaol, where Oscar Wilde was imprisoned for “gross indecency” in 1895; and the tale of the French soldier Chevalier d’Eon who fenced in women’s clothing at the Prince Regents’ Carlton House residence in 1787.

Edward Carpenter, founding father of gay rights in Britain, centre, and friends at Millthorpe in Derbyshire<br> Photo: via the <i>Independent</i>

Edward Carpenter, founding father of gay rights in Britain standing center, with friends at Millthorpe in Derbyshire
Photo: via the Independent

The focus, thus far, has been on London but this new initiative sees the focus widened to include the rest of the UK.

“I think people will be surprised… there are some really rural sites that have been important for lesbian and gay people in this country. We want to show how important LGBTQ people have been in influencing the environment around us.”

Playwright Oscar Wilde (1882)<br> Photo: wcbg.org

Playwright Oscar Wilde (1882)
Photo: wcbg.org

Historic England is appealing to members of the public to add their own sites of interests. Terms on the map include Arts and Culture, Crime and Sex, and Intimacy.

Ronald Wright, 87, a gay magazine illustrator, artist’s model, and author, spoke to the Independent about the project.

“So much had to be hidden in the old days. I’ve seen some remarkable changes and the biggest change was gay marriage, “he said. “I wish I had been born 20 years ago so I was young enough to enjoy the things young gay people can enjoy these days.”

Wright’s suggestions for the map included historic pubs such as the Coronation Club, the Standard, and the City of Quebec.


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