Exhibit Gay: Welcome to the American LGBTQ+ Museum

Written by | The Lens

Look back in anger. That’s how many of us in the queer community regard the past. We have been marginalized, institutionalized and even exterminated in certain eras and regimes simply because we were born gay. Why in the homo hell would we want to romanticize such treatment?

But history is a cul-de-sac. If we try to outrun it, we will quickly end up right back where we started.

That’s why we want to pave a path to new vistas of inclusion, and all roads lead to NYC. The New York Historical Society has announced an exciting new initiative to expand their exhibition space by over 70,000 square feet. Their new attraction will be the American LGBTQ+ Museum, a repository for queer expression and identity from throughout the centuries.

As the museum’s board chair, Richard Burns, tells NBC News, “We need to record and present the history of our movement and the lives of LGBT people, and showcase both the discrimination and suffering of vulnerable people, but also the resilience and grit and determination to achieve equality and freedom and liberation.”

In addition to the brilliant visuals with which Historical Society visitors have become accustomed, the new LGBTQ+ wing will recount oral histories culled from the works of sister organizations like I’m from Driftwood and The Generations Project.

“We all need to understand the consequences of public policy and culture on the lives of people who live here,” argues Burns.

Indeed, the new collection will augment New York City’s reputation as a melting pot of tolerance and triumph, but it is also a berg synonymous with innovation. Burns wants to ignite this sense of wonder and whimsy and “experiment with approaches to a museum so that people feel like they do belong there, that they do feel welcome.”

Move over, red carpet; the pink pathway is about to unfurl. The American LGBTQ+ Museum promises to be one of the largest queer cultural centers on the east coast. How fitting that it will reside amidst the biggest gay population of any U.S. city.

“Culture can be a mirror,” concludes Richard Burns, “and people who feel invisible in the larger culture, they want a mirror that reflects back their lives, their stories, and confirms that we exist.”

We are already living for this ethos, and we can’t wait to gather in the glow of our fellow gay thinkers and creators. Empowerment is on display.

Last modified: July 19, 2021