A Queer History Of Fashion


Gays and lesbians have long been “hidden from history”—including the history of fashion. “Reclaiming the gay and lesbian past” involves more than simply recognizing that some individual fashion designers happened to be gay. It is also necessary to explore the complex historical links between sexuality, society, and culture. Research shows that fashion has been a significant site of gay cultural production for more than 300 years. In addition, gay culture has been central to the creation of modern fashion.

The word “queer” was formerly pejorative, but has recently been widely adopted within the lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgender community and among scholars. By calling our exhibition “a queer history of fashion,” we emphasize that it is time for an alternative history of fashion, one that takes account of the contributions, both individual and collective, of generations of LGBTQ people.

Valerie Steele and Fred Dennis, curators