After the massive success of Baltic Pride 2022 in Vilnius, the National Museum of Lithuania took the first steps to preserve the vibrant LGBTIQ heritage in Lithuania. Last year, the Museum’s History Collections Department began collecting exhibits from the LGBT+ community and approached Lithuanian Gay League (LGL) for cooperation.
LGL began its LGBTIQ human rights advocacy work in 1993, a few years after Lithuania’s restoration of independence, and to this day remains the sole civil society organization in Lithuania, dedicating its efforts exclusively towards the progress of LGBTIQ human rights. In July 2022 it handed over 23 items of historical significance from the archives of the LGBTIQ Community Centre to the Lithuanian National Museum. Among the publications and merchandise handed over to the museum are the Baltic Pride Festival albums, reflecting the entire history of the festival since its difficult beginnings in 2010.
“We live in a time when the narratives of history exacerbate the contradictions in our society. We cannot be passive observers of such processes. In the search for dialogue, we need to get to know and understand communities of different generations, ethnic groups and lifestyles. We must uncover the stories of all, because the more diverse the people – the more diverse and colourful is the history that we have all created and are creating,” says Dr. Rūta Kačkutė, Director General of the Lithuanian National Museum.
According to the Executive Director of the Lithuanian Gay League, Vladimir Simonko, this is an important step for the State Museum, as LGBT+ history has been marginalised or even openly ignored until now. Only one major exhibition named From Dusk Till Dawn. 20 Years of LGBT Freedom in Lithuania took place in 2013 and was initiated by LGL. It is encouraging that the history of the community will now be reflected not only in the archives of museums in Berlin and Amsterdam, but also in the National Museum of Lithuania. We hope that this will stimulate ideas for new inclusive exhibitions or displays.
LGBTIQ history in Lithuania is still in the making today, as more strategic political commitments need to be taken to halt the LGBTIQ human rights decline. Next March for Equality in Vilnius is scheduled to take place on June 8, 2024.