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At 157 feet tall, Cambridge University Library’s iconic tower is one of the tallest structures in the city, and for the first part of February will fly the rainbow flag to mark LGBT History Month, an annual event promoting equality and diversity by

  • Increasing the visibility of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people; their histories, lives and experiences.
  • Raising awareness of and improving education on matters affecting the LGBT+ community.
  • Working to make institutions safe spaces for all LGBT+ people and communities.
  • Promoting the welfare of LGBT+ people, by ensuring that they are able to reach their full potential.

Liam Sims, Rare Books Specialist and curator of the ‘Queering the UL’ exhibition, said: “Since its appearance in San Francisco in 1978 the rainbow flag has symbolised both the diversity of the LGBT+ community and the pride felt by its members, and in flying the flag the University Library sends a clear message that it is a welcoming, open and tolerant place.”

Dr Jessica Gardner, University Librarian, adds: “In joining with other institutions across Cambridge also flying the flag we show that our city and university are places where people can be themselves without fear of discrimination.”

Over the six centuries of its existence, the University Library has built up a collection of over 8 million items, covering virtually every aspect of human thought. To mark the end of LGBT History Month, the University Library will host ‘Queering the UL’, a pop-up exhibition of LGBT+ related materials from its historic and modern collections, on Wednesday 28 February between 3.00 and 6.30pm. Items on display range from the 11th century to the 21st, including evidence of gay life in medieval Cairo, gender fluidity in 18th-century Japan and ephemera from the vibrant LGBT scene in 1970s Latin America.

To prepare for LGBT History Month, the University Library has worked closely with the CUSU LGBT+ committee who will also be present at the pop-up exhibition to talk to students about their campaigns, resources and the support they can offer.

Ali Hyde, President of CUSU LGBT+ committee, said: “CUSU LGBT+ is really pleased that the UL is flying the rainbow flag for LGBT+ History Month. It's great to see such a prominent university institution, especially one that is such a symbol of knowledge and research, celebrating the LGBT+ community and recognising the contribution of LGBT+ people in literature.”

‘Queering the UL’ is a free, public exhibition taking place in the Milstein Seminar Rooms, and all are welcome to attend. Use the hashtag #queeringtheul to share your thoughts on what you see. 

Photo: The raising of the rainbow flag with (from left to right) Simon Percelay, Chair of the CUSU LGBT+ committee; Liam Sims, Rare Books Specialist at Cambridge University Library; and Ali Hyde, President of the CUSU LGBT+ committee.