Pride Month has come to a close, so all the evil corporations have changed their rainbow logos and wiped the sweat off their brows for their strong (read: performative and often insincere) displays of allyship. For most of us, this means we will be seeing less and less emphasis on queer representation on our feeds.
In the US, queer history is so seldom taught that it often gets reduced to pride flags, some diluted version of the AIDS crisis, and gay marriage. But there is so much more to learn and celebrate than that.
The first step to remedying this: changing up our perspectives and actively supporting content that centers LGBTQIA+ experiences in multidimensional ways.
This can look like a lot of different things: following queer creators on social media, watching content by and about queer people, reading queer authors, and educating yourself on LGBTQIA+ issues from an intersectional lens.
And as more and more people in the US get vaccinated and once-shuttered establishments open up, we don't just have to get that education from books and Instagram infographics.
For a more immersive experience, visit some of these incredible museums telling queer stories and centering queer perspectives that have opened up again across the US.
GLBT Historical Society & Museum — San Francisco, CA
In the iconic Castro District of San Francisco, the GLBT Historical Society & Museum was founded during the AIDS crisis to preserve LGBTQIA+ history. In 1985, the Museum formed when activists took on the project of keeping and collecting the possessions of AIDS victims in order to preserve their stories.According to their mission statement, they "believe that knowledge of our diverse LGBTQ past is an invaluable resource for understanding the challenges of the present and inspiring dreams for a future of greater social justice." The emphasis on lived experience is on display in their permanent collection, "Queer Past Becomes Present." With documents, memorabilia and even some of Harvey Milk's belongings, the museum has always advocated that the personal is political.
ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives — Los Angeles, CA
The ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives in LA is a vast archive of LGBTQIA+ materials. A division of the libraries at the University of Southern California, the ONE Archives are the largest repository of queer history and theory in the world. The archives evolved from the 1952 ONE Inc, which published ONE Magazine and now serves to educate and promote diversity through learning and programming.
Stonewall National Museum & Archives — Fort Lauderdale, FL
Though you can visit the actual Stonewall bar in NYC, the Stonewall National Museum & Archives in Florida hold an impressive collection of queer art and memorabilia. Though it now has over 30,000 items in its collection, the museum started when founder Mark Silber started collecting and preserving queer erotica in his basement in 1972. Its sister site is a gallery which hosts live events, screenings, and exhibitions to promote and celebrate contemporary queer artists.
Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art — New York, NY
When artists and partners Charles Leslie and Fritz Lohman held their "Exhibition of Homoerotic Art" in Soho in 1969, the provocative event was an immediate success. With the Stonewall riots breaking out just blocks away a month later, the growing energy around queer freedom made the gallery's mission even more important. The pair kept growing their collection for their exhibit and, at the onset of the AIDS epidemic, began actively collecting art from dying queer artists to preserve their legacies.The project evolved into the Leslie-Lohman Gay Art Foundation and was officially made into a museum in 2016. Now, the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art preserves and displays over 30,000 items and has a research library containing over 3,000 volumes.
Andy Warhol Museum — Pittsburgh, PA
The comprehensive collection of Andy Warhol's career at the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh reminds the public consciousness that he was more than just Campbell Soup Cans and Marilyn Monroe prints – though those are on display too. The exhibit acts as a complete retrospective on his work and its different phases, especially his unapologetically queer works, both from his private and public collections.
From early drawings of the male form to the extravagance of his later masterworks, the museum remembers Warhol as a gay icon and celebrates his influence and legacy through mentorship programs, arts initiatives, educational programs, and even a revelatory annual drag workshop and queer prom.
Museum of Trans History and Art — San Francisco, CA
MOTHA was formed by Chris E. Vargas in 2013 as a conceptual and evolving art project. A series of exhibits, events, performances, discussions, and more, MOTHA reinvents the idea of a museum and takes multiple forms to celebrate the multiplicity of gender and queerness.
According to their mission statement, "The mission of MOTHA is to ask audiences to think critically about what a visual history of transgender life could and should look like, and if it's even possible to compile a comprehensive history of an identity category for which the language is fairly new, sometimes contested, and still rapidly evolving."
MOTHA is both a venue to celebrate and support trans artists as well as an exercise in resisting binary and rigidity in our everyday thinking.
Though Pride Month is officially over, the work isn't. Challenging binary and cis-heternormative thinking is a lifelong project, and so is celebrating queer artists and learning queer history.