Queer British Art 1861-1967, Tate Britain, Millbank, London SW1, until 1st October 2017
I have thought long and hard about this exhibition which marks the fiftieth anniversary of the Sexual Offences Act legislation in 1967 which meant partial decriminalisation of male homosexuality in England and Wales.
Well done Tate Britain for its partnership with this year’s London Pride (Pride in London at Tate Britain, 2pm to 10pm 24th June). Given what still goes on in countries such as Chechnya we must be grateful for the passing of the act.
However, I do wonder, although admittedly progress has been made, how much things have really changed in our own multi-cultural society? We know how differing faiths do not accept homosexuality as being right or acceptable. Many families, whatever their ethnic background, struggle to accept a member of their family being gay. Gay people get homophobic abuse or are physically attacked for no reason other than they are “different”, even my partner and I have been hissed at in Westminster’s Edgware Road.
I recently saw a production of La Cage aux Folles at the Wimbledon Theatre. I think the real time to celebrate acceptance and inclusion will be when LGBT people can say/sing the words from the show –
I am what I am
And what I am needs no excuses
– And know they don’t have to look over their shoulder. Impossible, or could we all work harder towards it?
Among the exhibits in this somewhat politically correct exhibition is a monogrammed dressing gown that belonged to Noel Coward. He was friends of Ian Fleming and his wife Ann and they both had houses on Jamaica. In one of her letters Ann writes that Noel is referred to as “Chinese Nell” on the island *. Need I say more?
*The Letters of Ann Fleming by Ann Fleming, Mark Amory (Editor), Collins Harvill, 1985