This weekend sees the launch of Manx National Heritage’s Cabinet of Queeriosity, a new temporary exhibition at the Manx Museum, opening on Saturday June 25.

Coinciding with the 30th anniversary of the journey to decriminalise homosexual acts on the Isle of Man and the 50th anniversary of the first Pride demonstration in the UK, the pop up exhibition celebrates the rich, diverse and unique history of the Isle of Man’s queer community and how it is reflected in the places, objects, landscapes and culture that surround us. 

Co-curated by MNH and Kensington Arts, and supported by Isle of Pride, this unique new exhibition showcases the positive transformations hard won on the Isle of Man’s community in the 1990’s, alongside the experiences, history and heritage of the island’s LGBTQIA+ people through personal collections, records and voices, which were once not commonly shared or heard.

Anthea Young, Exhibition Curator and Education Services Officer for MNH said: ‘Manx National Heritage is incredibly proud to showcase the ‘Cabinet of Queeriosity’, an exhibition as exciting as the people, stories and ideas it explores and celebrates.  We have been overwhelmed by the generosity of the island’s Queer community in sharing their story and we are extremely grateful to all those who have contributed to celebrate the accomplishments of our community and the culture they were born into, have chosen or seek to understand.’

Over 30 objects are featured in the exhibition including the outfit worn as a political protest on Tynwald Day 1991 worn by Isle of Man gay rights campaigner Alan Shea, who exercised his democratic right to present a petition of grievance to the Island’s Parliament, Tynwald. His petition eventually resulted in the decriminalisation of homosexuality on the Isle of Man.

In contrast to Alan’s protest outfit, the exhibition showcases the fun, glitz and glamour of Vida La Fierce, the Manx drag queen persona of Gareth Leece, who is credited with inspiring many more drag queens and drag kings on the Isle of Man.   

Followers of the Netflix series based on Alice Oseman’s bestselling graphic novel, ‘Heartstopper’ have the opportunity to see the ‘Truham Grammar’ school notebook for the character ‘Charlie Spring’, kindly loaned by Joe Locke.

Peter Shimmin, Creative Development Coordinator for Kensington Arts said: ‘This exhibition is a fantastic opportunity for the Manx public to connect with the stories of our queer community. The last 30 years have seen great changes for the rights and recognition of LGBT+ people, but there is still a long way to go.  Awareness and discussion of these topics is vital for us to move forward as an island that is a safe place for everyone. Currently, the discourse around the rights of transgender people is a real concern – the fight is clearly not over.’

The ‘Cabinet of Queeriosity’ exhibition is free to visit at the Manx Museum in Douglas, and open from 9.30am to 4.30pm daily from Saturday June 25 until Sunday September 4.