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J Homosex. 2017 Aug 4:1-22. doi: 10.1080/00918369.2017.1364106. [Epub ahead of print]

The Cultural Functions and Social Potential of Queer Monuments: A Preliminary Inventory and Analysis.

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a Independent Researcher, Brooklyn , New York and Geneva , Switzerland.
b School of the Museum of Fine Arts , Tufts University , Boston , Massachusetts , USA.
c Department of English , Colorado State University , Fort Collins , Colorado , USA.


Public monuments function as cultural agents, reifying dominant public narratives or fostering change. Either way, their representation of people and events intervene in public discourse and contribute to cultural, economic, political, and social environments. Queer monuments, defined here as heritage sites that honor gender and sexual minorities, represent communities that have often been excised in dominant public narratives. This article provides a preliminary global inventory of queer monuments and describes three of their major functions: (1) to provide visibility and reduce stigma; (2) to educate the public on the abuse and attempted extermination of gender and sexual minorities; and (3) to stimulate public debate and discourse about gender and sexual minority rights. This still rare type of monument is growing more common and prompting more active and equitable representations in public space. Queer monuments have the potential of lessening stigma and improving the lives of sexual and gender minorities.


Art activism; gender and sexual minority rights; heritage studies; history; memory; public space; queer monuments; visibility

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