Late shift extra: Queer Perspectives 10 at the National Portrait Gallery.

On Thursday 9th November,  I attended Queer Perspectives 10 at the National Portrait Gallery: an inclusive takeover created by London-based artist and curator Sadie Lee with the aim of providing the audience a safe space and an immersive experience.

This event is particularly important due to 2017 being the fiftieth anniversary in the United Kingdom of the Sexual Offences Act : this decision contributed significantly to the partial legalisation of male homosexual acts in England and Wales, paving the way for following campaigns against homophobia.

This is the keynote of Sadie Lee’s curatorial vision :

‘It was a simple idea: to invite creative thinkers and makers to the National Portrait Gallery to cast their queer eye over the Collection. Simple, but in 2007 revolutionary. To have a Queer- centric event not just as a tokenistic tribute to LGBT History Month or as pop-up party for Pride, but as regular mainstay of the public programme. A decade on and we’re still here, still Queer.’  (National Portrait Gallery, 2017: 2)

This opportunity enhanced my curatorial vision and offered me a quite practical methodological approach on how to encourage visitors to reflect on issues of gender and sexuality through the lenses of art and performance.

To me museums are spaces where visitors and artist should feel at home, attaching to the space feelings of belonging and active participation: contemporary art might be the tool for raising awareness on delicate gender issues in postmodern society.

Furthermore, the idea of making the event free and so accessible to everyone was crucial and it goes in the direction of trying not to promote the belief that museums might be seen as hostile receptacles of the world knowledge, rather providing the audience  a queer-focused tour based on selected pieces from the collection.


Stewart. T , after Mosnier, J. L. [1792]. Chevalier D’Eon [Oil on canvas, 765 mm x 640 mm]. London: National Portrait Gallery, Room 12. NPG 6937. Available from: [Accessed: 18 November 2017]. [Unpublished photograph].


Ferranti, F. (2017) Blurb of the portrait of the Chevalier D’Eon by Thomas Stewart. National Portrait Gallery, London. [Unpublished photograph].
Ferranti, F. (2017) Sadie Lee introducing the Chevalier D’Eon for Queer Perspective 10. National Portrait Gallery, London. [Unpublished photograph].
In her introductory talk, Sadie Lee touched on the fascinating story of Charles Geneviève Louis Auguste André Timothée d’Eon de Beaumont, a French spy who lived as a crossdresser from 1777.
As King Louis XVI was too scared about the Chevalier revealing delicate secrets, he decided to pay him off a large amount of money with the conditions that he started to wear female clothes.
Overall, the experience was deeply inspiring and multifaceted , including a variety of acts from the dj set of legendary drag queen and owner of The Glory John Sizzle to the emotional songs of writer and performer Rose Collins, to the screening of Deep Lez short movies selected by curator Nazmia Jamal.

Reference List:

  • Lee, S. (2017) Sadie Lee.  Available from: http: // [Accessed 18 November 2017].
  • National Portrait Gallery (2017) Late Shift Tour: Queer Perspectives by Sadie Lee Event held at the National Portrait Gallery, London Thursday 9 November 2017 [Event catalogue].
  • Mills, R. ‘Queer is here? Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender histories and public culture’. In Levin, A.K. (ed.) Gender, Sexuality and Museums. London: Routledge, 80-89.
  • Nomorepotlucks. 2017. Nomorepotlucks. [Online] Available from: [Accessed 18 November 2017].
  • Sexual Offences Act 1967, c. 60. [Online] Available from:  [Accessed 18 November 2017]..

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