While London thankfully has a reputation for producing and promoting the work of gay artists, this year there have been a wide range of events across London for the first time to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality in the UK.
Tate Modern introduces the comprehensive exhibition Queer British Art, with works from 1861 to 1967 that cover a range of LGBT subjects. Establishment figures dominate, from the flowing painting of the Pre-Raphaelites to British titans such as David Hockney. Another highlight is the portraits of John Singer Sargent, currently the subject of his own retrospective at Dulwich Picture Gallery.
Tate: until 1st October
Dulwich Picture Gallery: until 8th October
The primary event on the LGBT film calendar is the BFI Flare Film Festival, an annual celebration of original works for the big screen showing tens of feature-length movies and shorts. Some of the world’s best filmmakers have been involved, with highlights this year including the BBC’s Against the Law, the animation Torrey Pines and After Louie, starring Alan Cumming. The 2018 programme will be announced in February next year, while the festival itself takes place in March.
London has a thriving theatre scene, with a rolling selection of original works and revivals. Plays such as Under the Skin (Camden), And the Rest of Me Floats (Shoreditch) and Yank! (Covent Garden) are the highlights of this summer, while the National Theatre at the Southbank is featuring a discussion and exhibition of events over the past 25 years since its 1992 première of Angels in America. Although there are relatively few dedicated venues, there is a shift and expansion in the industry: the King’s Head in Islington, for example, should be moving into a larger dedicated venue from 2018.
The British Museum has put together the exhibition Desire, Love, Identity, examining LGBT histories through its extensive collection, ranging from ancient perspectives to the present day. This is accompanied by a similar display at the British Library in King’s Cross, which explores the legal, personal and cultural circumstances around gay lives in 20th-century Britain, as well as campaigns continuing today.
British Museum: until 15th October
British Library: until 19th September