British Museum marks Pride month with objects that tell LGBT+ stories

by Rachel Savage | @rachelmsavage | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Monday, 22 June 2020 13:55 GMT

A 1st century AD Terracotta Roman lamp from Turkey, depicting two women engaged in oral sex, generally regarded as taboo by the Romans.

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A Roman lamp depicting lesbian sex and a medal of a famous 18th century French spy are among five LGBT+ objects added to the British Museum's permanent collection.

By Rachel Savage

LONDON, June 22 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - The British Museum has marked Pride season by putting five objects on permanent display that tell the stories of LGBT+ culture through history, from an ancient Greek coin featuring Sappho to a Roman lamp that depicts two women having oral sex.

The museum, which is currently closed due the coronavirus but usually attracts about 6 million visitors a year, already runs popular LGBT-themed tours.

Stuart Frost, head of interpretation and volunteers, said the addition of the artefacts was part of an ongoing effort to improve the British Museum's representation of LGBT+ history.

"They join a number of other objects on permanent display that collectively demonstrate that same-sex love, desire and gender diversity have always been an integral part of the human experience," he said in a statement.

The objects also include a 1777 medal depicting an 18th century soldier, diplomat and spy who lived alternately as a man and a woman in France and England.

The most recent is a fake banknote made for a 2008 club event called Gay Shame Goes Macho featuring the image of British gangster Ronnie Kray instead of Queen Elizabeth.

The original 10-shilling note, in circulation in Britain until 1970, was linked to the popular expression "as queer as a nine bob note".

Pressure is growing on cultural and historic institutions to reflect LGBT+ heritage in countries including Britain, whose parliament now runs tours dedicated to the hidden history of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender lives.

Related stories:

Schools must include LGBT+ history as part of the curriculum

Making history: teaching of LGBT+ rights gains momentum in United States

For LGBT+ creators of 'Hollywood', rewriting history can change the world

(Reporting by Rachel Savage @rachelmsavage; Editing by Claire Cozens. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers the lives of people around the world who struggle to live freely or fairly. Visit

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