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LGBT History Month

LGBT History Month

LGBT History Month

The Gallery's mission is to represent people of achievement in British history and culture. This mission has remained constant since our foundation in 1856, and we continually review how to fulfil it and how to respond to the changing nature of society.

The Gallery’s Collection of portraits enables us to explore identity, image, sexuality and representation and our programme of events enables people to connect, discuss, share and discover. We offer a rich, engaging and inclusive programme for everyone throughout the year with regular events that may be of particular interest to LGBTQI audiences, including talks, DJs, films and artist performances. In addition, we celebrate LGBT History Month every February and PRIDE every summer.

The Gallery’s LGBTQI programme has been running for over 10 years and provides a welcoming and inclusive space for audiences, encouraging debate, discussion, reflection, creativity and expression. In exploring gender and identity, the Gallery acknowledges the broadest diversity of lives and experiences. We continue to discuss changing language and terminology with audiences and staff at the Gallery. We currently use the acronym LGBTQI (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex).

What's on

To mark LGBT History Month in February the Gallery has a series of exhibitions and events for all audiences exploring gender and identity.

Artist Sadie Lee marks the start of the month with her quarterly Queer Perspectives residency. DJs Mr Madam provide the soundtrack to Friday Lates. Also, a life drawing with artist Jon Sleigh who leads a session investigating gender, form and perception.

Explore our LGBT related exhibitions

Exhibitions (2)

Cecil Beaton’s Bright Young Things

Cecil Beaton’s Bright Young Things

12 March - 7 June 2020
Porter Plus
Tickets without donation: £17-20
£5 tickets
Every Friday £5 tickets are available to anyone aged under 25. Proof of age will be required.
Free for Members and Patrons

This major new exhibition will explore the extravagant world of the glamorous and stylish ‘Bright Young Things’ of the twenties and thirties, seen through the eye of renowned British photographer Cecil Beaton.


Find out more Book now
David Hockney: Drawing from Life

David Hockney: Drawing from Life

27 February - 28 June 2020
Wolfson Gallery
Tickets without donation: £17-20
Free for Members and Patrons

The first major exhibition devoted to David Hockney’s drawings in over twenty years, David Hockney: Drawing from Life, explores Hockney as a draughtsman from the 1950s to the present by focusing on depictions of himself and a small group of sitters close to him: his muse, Celia Birtwell; his mother, Laura Hockney; and friends, the curator, Gregory Evans, and master printer, Maurice Payne.


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Explore our LGBT events

Events (14)

Portrait of the Day: Gwen John

Portrait of the Day: Gwen John

  • Talks and Lectures||LGBTQI

28 February 2020, 12:30
Room 28
Free

Painter; trained at the Slade School, 1895-8, and in Paris at Whistler's Académie Carmen, 1898-9; lived permanently in France after 1903 where she formed a passionate relationship with the sculptor, Rodin, and became acquainted with the leading figures of the artistic avant-garde.

Portrait of the Day talks are given by members of the Gallery's Visitor Services Team and last for up to 30 minutes. Talks are subject to change so please call 0207 306 0055 on the day or check signage in the Gallery.


Find out more
Guest DJ: Mr Madam

Guest DJ: Mr Madam

  • LGBTQI||Music||Friday Lates

A part of Friday Lates
28 February 2020, 18:00
Main Hall
Free

DJ Mr Madam combines a range of musical styles to create his sets.


Find out more
Life Drawing: Drag and Draw – audience with a queen

Life Drawing: Drag and Draw – audience with a queen

  • Drawing||Workshop||Friday Lates||LGBTQI
  • Book now

A part of Friday Lates
28 February 2020, 18:30-20:30
Ondaatje Wing Theatre
Tickets: £10 (£8 concessions and Gallery Supporters)

To celebrate LGBT History Month, artist Jon Sleigh leads this session in which you embrace otherness and queer identity in your work through a close investigation of gender, form and perception.


Find out more Book now
Portrait of the Day: Gwen John

Portrait of the Day: Gwen John

  • Talks and Lectures||LGBTQI

3 March 2020, 12:30
Room 28
Free

Painter; trained at the Slade School, 1895-8, and in Paris at Whistler's Académie Carmen, 1898-9; lived permanently in France after 1903 where she formed a passionate relationship with the sculptor, Rodin, and became acquainted with the leading figures of the artistic avant-garde.

Portrait of the Day talks are given by members of the Gallery's Visitor Services Team and last for up to 30 minutes. Talks are subject to change so please call 0207 306 0055 on the day or check signage in the Gallery.


Find out more
Portrait of the Day: James Baldwin

Portrait of the Day: James Baldwin

  • Talks and Lectures||LGBTQI

11 March 2020, 12:30
Room 24
Free

Born in Harlem, Baldwin was brought up in New York by his mother and stepfather, a church minister.

Portrait of the Day talks are given by members of the Gallery's Visitor Services Team and last for up to 30 minutes. Talks are subject to change so please call 0207 306 0055 on the day or check signage in the Gallery.


Find out more
Portrait of the Day: Gwen John

Portrait of the Day: Gwen John

  • Talks and Lectures||LGBTQI

12 March 2020, 12:30
Room 28
Free

Painter; trained at the Slade School, 1895-8, and in Paris at Whistler's Académie Carmen, 1898-9; lived permanently in France after 1903 where she formed a passionate relationship with the sculptor, Rodin, and became acquainted with the leading figures of the artistic avant-garde.

Portrait of the Day talks are given by members of the Gallery's Visitor Services Team and last for up to 30 minutes. Talks are subject to change so please call 0207 306 0055 on the day or check signage in the Gallery.


Find out more
Portrait of the Day: Gwen John

Portrait of the Day: Gwen John

  • Talks and Lectures||LGBTQI

18 March 2020, 12:30
Room 28
Free

Painter; trained at the Slade School, 1895-8, and in Paris at Whistler's Académie Carmen, 1898-9; lived permanently in France after 1903 where she formed a passionate relationship with the sculptor, Rodin, and became acquainted with the leading figures of the artistic avant-garde.

Portrait of the Day talks are given by members of the Gallery's Visitor Services Team and last for up to 30 minutes. Talks are subject to change so please call 0207 306 0055 on the day or check signage in the Gallery.


Find out more
Portrait of the Day: Gwen John

Portrait of the Day: Gwen John

  • Talks and Lectures||LGBTQI

27 March 2020, 12:30
Room 28
Free

Painter; trained at the Slade School, 1895-8, and in Paris at Whistler's Académie Carmen, 1898-9; lived permanently in France after 1903 where she formed a passionate relationship with the sculptor, Rodin, and became acquainted with the leading figures of the artistic avant-garde.

Portrait of the Day talks are given by members of the Gallery's Visitor Services Team and last for up to 30 minutes. Talks are subject to change so please call 0207 306 0055 on the day or check signage in the Gallery.


Find out more
Life Drawing: Bright Young Things

Life Drawing: Bright Young Things

  • Drawing||Workshop||Friday Lates||LGBTQI
  • Book now

A part of Friday Lates
27 March 2020, 18:30
Ondaatje Wing Theatre
Tickets: £10 (£8 concessions and Gallery Supporters)

Artist Gayna Pelham leads this session which focuses on the current exhibition of Cecil Beaton's photographs of the glamorous and extravagant "Bright Young Things" of 1920s London. 


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Life Drawing: Hockney and his Influences

Life Drawing: Hockney and his Influences

  • Drawing||Workshop||Friday Lates||LGBTQI
  • Book now

A part of Friday Lates
24 April 2020, 18:30
Ondaatje Wing Theatre
Tickets: £10 (£8 concessions and Gallery Supporters)

To coincide with the current major exhibition David Hockney: Drawing from Life, this Life Drawing session with artist Marc Woodhead explores the techniques, ideas and approaches of David Hockney, and the artists that have influenced, informed and inspired his work.


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In Conversation: Queer Perspectives

In Conversation: Queer Perspectives

  • Talks and Lectures||Friday Lates||LGBTQI
  • Book now

A part of Friday Lates
1 May 2020, 19:00
Please check signage on the day for details
Free ticket required

Gain a Queer Perspective on our Collection with resident artist Sadie Lee and her special guest as they discuss portraits which have a personal resonance.


Find out more Book now
Guest DJ: Mr Madam

Guest DJ: Mr Madam

  • LGBTQI||Music||Friday Lates

A part of Friday Lates
22 May 2020, 18:00
Main Hall
Free

DJ Mr Madam combines a range of musical styles to create his sets.


Find out more
Life Drawing: Roger Fry and the Bloomsbury Group

Life Drawing: Roger Fry and the Bloomsbury Group

  • Drawing||Workshop||Friday Lates||LGBTQI
  • Book now

A part of Friday Lates
29 May 2020, 18:30
Ondaatje Wing Theatre
Tickets: £10 (£8 concessions and Gallery Supporters)

Taking inspiration from the critic and painter Roger Fry’s aesthetic advice to express emotions through a work of art and design via five elements.


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Life Drawing: Drawing from Hockney

Life Drawing: Drawing from Hockney

  • Drawing||Workshop||Friday Lates||LGBTQI
  • Book now

A part of Friday Lates
26 June 2020, 18:30
Ondaatje Wing Theatre
Tickets: £10 (£8 concessions and Gallery Supporters)

To coincide with the current major exhibition Drawing from Life, this Life Drawing session with artist Robin-Lee Hall explores the techniques, draughtsmanship and varied drawing materials used by David Hockney over the years. During the session, Robin will be drawing on her iPad to demonstrate Hockney’s different approaches to drawing the figure.


Find out more Book now

Explore the Collection

Explore 10 people with connections to LGBT, Portrait of Ian McKellen

Inspirational quotes from 10 significant LGBTQI people in the Collection

Find out more

Explore LGBT figures in our Collection, Portrait of Paul O'Grady

Explore a visual snapshot of some LGBTQI figures and allies in the Gallery’s Collection

Explore further

explore a wider range of LGBT figures, Portrait of Joan Armatrading

Discover more LGBTQI figures in the Collection

Discover more

2017 Queer Perspectives Gallery Trail

Late Shift Tours offer an alternative way of exploring the National Portrait Gallery by presenting personal responses and perspectives on the Collection.

Download the Queer Perspectives Gallery Trail

LGBTQI Timeline

The Sexual Offences Act 1967

In 2017 the Gallery commemorated the 50th Anniversary of The Sexual Offences Act 1967 with exhibitions, displays and programme of events throughout the year, both in London and beyond. 

The Sexual Offences Act 1967 saw the partial decriminalisation of male homosexual behaviour in England and Wales. (It decriminalised homosexual acts in private between two men over 21 years old.) It did not cover the Merchant Navy or the Armed Forces. In Scotland, homosexual acts were decriminalised in 1980 and in Northern Island, in 1982.

Despite its limited scope, the legislation was a major step forward for the gay-rights movement in the United Kingdom, and reflects a moment in history when sexuality and gender was being questioned publically and attitudes transformed.

The Wolfenden Report 1957

2017 also marked the 60th Anniversary of the publication of The Report of the Departmental Committee on Homosexual Offences and Prostitution, known as The Wolfenden Report 1957. 

The Wolfenden Committee investigated homosexuality and prostitution in the mid-1950s. The Committee included a judge, a psychiatrist, an academic and various theologians. The context was the rising numbers of prosecutions. The Committee concluded that criminal law could not credibly intervene in the private sexual affairs of consenting adults in the privacy of their homes. The Report, published on 4 September 1957 summarised,  ‘unless a deliberate attempt be made by society through the agency of the law to equate the sphere of crime with that of sin, there must remain a realm of private that is in brief, not the law's business.’

There was no political impetus after the publication of the report to legislate but in the early 1960s, Leo Abse MP and Lord Arran who sat in the House of Lords, put forward proposals to change the way in which criminal law treated homosexual men. Lord Arran drew heavily on the findings of the Wolfenden Report. In 1967, the Labour government supported Lord Arran and considered that criminal law should not penalise homosexual men and the Sexual Offences Act 1967 was passed.

Explore further key milestones and cultural moments in British history in relation to LGBTQI issues.

Explore the timeline

Buy Speak it's Name from our online shopSpeak Its Name! Quotations by and about gay men and women

A collection of moving, amusing and inspirational quotations by and about prominent gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender people and allies, from Oscar Wilde to Tom Daley, Radclyffe Hall to Sandi Toksvig, illustrated with images from the Gallery’s Collection.

Buy this publication online