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SP | Gay UK: Love, Law and Liberty at the British Library

By Will Stroude


1895, the trial of Oscar Wilde. 2017, the pardoning of gay men by the ‘Alan Turing Law’. How far have we come in 122 years?

Personal testimony. Public protest. Art and culture. We tell the story of love, legislative change and the battles for equality experienced by gay men and women in the UK. 50 years after the Sexual Offences Act partially decriminalised homosexuality, our exhibition looks at the build up to this monumental step, its impact, and asks what challenges still remain.

Listen to oral histories. Explore Sarah Waters’s manuscript notebook for Tipping the Velvet. Take a closer look at the diary of Kenneth Williams. Film, original manuscripts and rare printed items trace a history of troubles and triumphs for gay people. Other items on display include the 1957 Wolfenden Report, the Gay Liberation Front Manifesto, and vinyl from the Pet Shop Boys.

How have perceptions of homosexuality changed and what impact have they had in creating distinctive and dynamic gay identities in the UK?

‘Gay UK: Love, Law and Liberty at the British Library’ runs from June 2 – 19 September 2017. For more information visit