Flying the flag against homophobia

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two women holding up a large flag with broad stripes in rainbow colours

Head of objects conservation,Vivien Chapman, (left) inspecting the flag in the textile conservation studio

This special Rainbow Flag was recently donated to the Museum of Liverpool's permanent collections and will be displayed pride of place in the People's City gallery in the new Museum of Liverpool when it opens in 2011.

This flag represents a very important first in Liverpool. It was flown above Liverpool Town Hall for the first time for the International Day Against Homophobia on 17 May 2009. It is just one of the many objects with amazing stories which curators seek out to ensure contemporary issues and events in the city are represented for the future. International Day Against Homophobia marks the day in 1990 when the World Health Organisation took homosexuality off its list of mental illnesses. It is hard to believe that until relatively recently this was still the case but with recent homophobic attacks in Liverpool it is all too apparent that there is a long way to go in challenging prejudice and intolerance.

The flag was kindly donated by Liverpool City Council. It is a fitting time to add it to the collection at the start of Liverpool's annual Homotopia festival. National Museums Liverpool has always supported the festival and will be holding a free talk about the secret language of Polari at 2pm this Saturday at Merseyside Maritime Museum as part of the programme of events. Further details are on the Sailing Proud page on the Merseyside Maritime Museum's website.

You can see more photos in the Rainbow Flag set on Flickr.