LGBTQ And The Design Community
Humanity has evolved over the years. Our philosophies, beliefs, the judgment of right and wrong, insights on copious topics have shifted in most areas for the better. People from varying cultures, races and nationalities are accepted throughout. The issues of communities, specifically the cis-gender have and always been in the spotlight. However, the LGBTQ community was and is mostly left out of the conversation—often and sadly because being out was illegal. There has been some advancement but it is far from equality.
For most of history, education, career and inclusivity had always been an issue for the LGBTQ community. As people started to get woke and compassionate about the community, we hoped for things to get better. In recent years, along with other industries, the LGBTQ community is claiming power in the design industry and outshining it.
“We would like to think this is because the design industry is loaded with creative minds who are progressive enough to have embraced equality a long time ago and are attempting to design for a world in which we are all human beings on an equal playing field,” Say Jordan Cluroe and Russell Whitehead, founders of 2LG – 2 Lovely Gays – studio to Archipanic.
Let us see some celebrated LGBTQ personalities, some steps designers have taken towards promoting the community, what we as designers can do for creating inclusive spaces and how far we are from an equality-driven world.
Here are Architectural Landmarks and dates in LGBTQ history:
Islington Town Hall
This hall saw the first gay marriage in England. Peter McGraith and David Cabreza were officially a couple as they exchanged vows on 29th March. This landmark has also been a hotspot for equality, inclusivity and promoting and hosting other gay marriage.
Stonewall Inn was constructed in New York in 1846. It served as a gay bar in 1967, a site for gay rights in 1969 and a national landmark in 2016. It was appreciated for its assistance for the gay community.
Socialite Elise De Wolde, who is still revered for her work in interior design, worked in the 1920s in New York. Historians believe her to be lesbian or bisexual. She promoted a very minimal design in the times where dark Victorian design was favoured.
Some renowned LGBTQ Personalities in the architecture fraternity:
An advocate for LGBTQ rights, She has been featured in ‘100 most influential LGBTQ people’ and ‘women of Influence’. To show her support and design a safe space for the community, she co-founded the ‘Organization of Lesbian + Gay Architects and Designers’.
His firm in London centres on residential and hospitality architecture. He is an active member of the community and founded an ‘Architecture LGBT social group’. To support the students, he founded the ‘National Students’ Pride’ in the UK.
The husband of the Prime Minister of Luxembourg, Destenay is an architect. His firm works in sustainable designs and advocates for the rights of the LGBTQ community.
Some initiatives by Architects And Designers:
Skyscrapers turn rainbow to show support
Every year, designers and architects come together to advocate for the rights of the LGBTQ community in Pride month. The UniCredit tower in Milan, designed by Cesar Pelli, was lit with the rainbow flag. This same movement is also witnessed with other landmarks – Eiffel tower, Empire State Building, Opera House, Tel Aviv city hall, Burj Khalifa and many more.
Crime against the LGBTQ community has always prevailed. On 17th May, a day known as an International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia, Rethink Creative thought of taking a stand against all the crimes. To show support for the community, an installation of 193 rainbows, one for each country were raised. This could stop bullets once aligned. The message was if we stick together, we can curb the violence.
LGBTQ memorial in Manhattan
In 2016, there was a shooting in Orlondo at a gay bar. In June, artist Anthony Goicolea created a monument to show solidarity with the LGBTQ community. The memorial, which contains 9 boulders, bisect with glass and acts as a prism that releases rainbows, is located in Hudson river park. It is an essential site for the community and honours their rights.
IKEA Supports LGBTQ Community
IKEA US launched their iconic KVANTING shopping bag in pride colours to show their support for pride month. The monetary benefit from this event would benefit the Ali Forney Centre of New York and the LGBT Centre of LA.
New York’s First LGBTQ Museum
Robert A M architects have been selected to extend the New York historical society by creating an LGBTQ museum. The oldest museum in New York will be shared with the LGBTQ community. It will have a 70000 square foot classroom, gallery, a library for the community’s culture and history. RAMSA received this project for the plans for the 170 central parks west building.
Largest Pride Flag
To celebrate pride month in 2019, the steps of Four Freedoms State Park, designed by Louis Kahn, were painted in the rainbow flag for pride month. It is the ‘largest pride flag’ installed. Stickers were used to cover the 24 granite steps that lead to the building.
Redesign Of The Pride Flag
Danial Quasar is a non-binary artist and graphic designer who redesigned the pride flag by adding 5 arrow-shaped lines to the already existing 6 coloured rainbow flag. The newly designed flag includes black and brown stripes – representing the marginalised LGBT community, those living with AIDS, those no longer living. Pink, light blue and white stripes represent the transgender flag.
Here are some pointers showcasing what can we do as a community:
Make Them Feel Safe
Everyone wishes to feel safe in the neighbourhood, city or country they live in. While a lot of us do have that privilege, our society isn’t inclusive enough of other communities. The LGBT community faces harassment, hatred, violence and crime constantly. Creating accessible spaces for them is the least we can do.
Most of the issues that the LGBT community faces is due to less awareness and essentially due to uneducated people, their beliefs and primitive thinking. Awareness campaigns can help in this sector. CHEGA DE FIU FIU is a social mobilization campaign in Brazil that helps to raise awareness and has previously advocated for women safety in the country.
Dedicated LGBT Areas
As much as we want the LGBT community to be a part of public spaces and create an inclusive society, some people from the community are still not certain of their safety. For these people, dedicated spaces are still essential. Such spaces help them to connect with others, be themselves, enjoy and essentially feel seen.
As much as designers, artists, architects and the whole creative field have tried to create awareness, inclusive spaces and an environment for the LGBT community, we are still far from the day where they live in a safe, equal society. We need to break the stigma – which is prevalent in society and create a friendly society. We all should unite and strive for it.
Michael Martin, June 4, 2019. The Leading LGBTQ+ Milestones in the World of Design.
Accessed – 23/ 8/ 21
July 12, 2018. 7 DESIGNS AND ARCHITECTURES ADVOCATING FOR LGBT EQUALITY
Accessed – 24/ 8/ 21
JUNE 27, 2020. HOW ARCHITECTURE AND DESIGN CAN EMPOWER THE LGBT+ COMMUNITY?
Accessed – 25/ 8/ 21
Sarah Gamrani – Marina Reidel – Clementine Tribouillard, June 28, 2021. Cities with Pride: Inclusive Urban Planning with LGBTQ + People
2/14/2018. How to plan and design a gay-friendly city
Accessed – 26/ 8/ 21