This article was published on May 29th, 2021
For decades, the fight for LGBTQ rights and equality has been no easy feat. Members of the LGBTQ community have faced violence and prejudice because of their sexuality or gender identity. LGBTQ rights activists, on the other hand, have faced persecutions owing to punitive laws against homosexuality. Yet, despite all these vile legislation and attacks, the LGBTQ community has stood resilient all along while trying to foster social acceptance.
The contributions and struggles of some of these social reformers are aptly captured and memorialized in various monuments across the world. These memorials tell a visual story of what it is like being queer and provides hope for a boundless future.
As you look forward to celebrating Pride month, make plans to visit [when it’s safe to travel again] these ten important monuments and learn about the rich LGBTQ history:
1. Stonewall National Monument: New York, USA
In 2016, former U.S. President Barrack Obama designated the Stonewall National Monument to commemorate the 1969 Stonewall riots and countless other people who have stood for LGBTQ+ rights throughout history.
Indeed, the New York City Stonewall riots are regarded as the catalyst for LGBTQ civil rights movement in the U.S.
The riots made headlines after a group of LGBTQ people retaliated against an all too familiar police raid at Stonewall Inn — a bar located in Greenwich Village, New York City.
So powerful was the uprising that nearly every major city in the United States had a gay rights group within two years since it happened.
2. Alan Turing Memorial: Manchester, England
Alan Turing is one of Britain’s unsung heroes. Often referred to as the father of computer science, cryptography, and mathematics, he was instrumental in cracking the Enigma code during World War Two, saving millions of lives.
However, Turing was convicted of homosexual acts in 1952 and chemically castrated via hormone injections despite his wartime contributions. He died two years later from cyanide poisoning.
In 2001, the Alan Turing Memorial was unveiled at Manchester’s Sackville Park. The tribute features a bronze statue of Alan Turing sitting on a bench holding an apple which symbolizes the biblical fruit of knowledge.
Queen Elizabeth II posthumously pardoned Turing in 2013.
3. Transgender Memorial Garden: St. Louis, Missouri
The Transgender Memorial Garden is a space dedicated to honoring the lives of transgender victims of anti-trans violence.
Formed by a group of about sixty people from the trans community, the Transgender Memorial Garden is the first garden in the world devoted to victims of anti-trans violence.
Popular among its features are native Missouri plants and an entrance sign with a quote from Greek poet Dinos Christianopoulos: “They tried to bury us. They didn’t know we were seeds.”
4. The Legacy Walk: Chicago, Illinois
The Legacy Walk is the only outdoor LGBTQ museum walk in the world.
Located in Chicago’s historic gayborhood, Boystown, this exhibit features 20 steel “Rainbow Pylons” with bronze plaques attached to them.
The plaques stretch half a mile across North Halstead Street in Chicago, making them the longest collection of bronze biographical memorials globally. These memorials commemorate the life and work of notable LGBTQ individuals.
Every year, a new memorial is added to the roster on National Coming Out Day (October 11). Since its inception, The Legacy Walk has raised awareness and instilled a sense of pride in the LGBTQ community.
5. Homomonument: Amsterdam, Netherlands
Located on the Keizersgracht Canal, the Homomonument memorial honors gay men and lesbians persecuted by the Nazi party. The monument consists of three pink triangles connected by lines to form one larger triangle.
Each triangle is strategically positioned, with one pointing to the memorial in Dam Square with the other to the headquarters of COC Nederland (the oldest continuously operating gay rights organization in the world).
The final triangle points to Anne Frank’s house and is inscribed with a quote by a gay Jewish poet: “Naar Vriendschap Zulk een Mateloos Verlangen” (“Such an endless desire for friendship”).
The monument was unveiled in 1980 following arrests on gay activists who placed a lavender wreath on Amsterdam’s National War Memorial in Dam Square.
6. My Heart Beats Like Yours Sculpture: Sao Paulo, Brazil
This large-scale interactive piece was designed by São Paulo-based Estúdio Guto Requena.
It commemorates the LGBTQ+ community in Brazil. The sculpture is set in the iconic Praça da República, a park and public square where the LGBTQ+ activist community first met back in 1978.
The structure consists of metal cylinders used underground and takes the shape of a huge arrow dissolving on the ground. The cylinders transmit audio testimonials from LGBTQ+ activists as well as the sound of their heartbeats. These heart pulses inform the algorithm that designs the structure of the lighting at night.
7. Gay and Lesbian Holocaust Memorial: Sydney, Australia
At the heart of Darlinghurst’s Green Park in Sydney stands a pink triangular prism and a grid of black steel columns, which collectively form a fractured Star of David.
Installed in 2001, the Gay and Lesbian Holocaust Memorial honors homosexual men and women who were murdered, tortured and persecuted due to their sexuality. It also celebrates the victims who were persecuted during the Nazi Holocaust and in Soviet labor camps.
Images of these victims are etched on the memorial’s pink-enameled exterior.
During the day, the prism reflects the surroundings, while at night, it glows with a soft light symbolizing hope and life.
8. Frankfurter Engel: Frankfurt, Germany
The Frankfurter Engel is a memorial that commemorates homosexual people persecuted under Nazi Rule and under Paragraph 175 — the punitive law during the 1950s and 1960s that prohibited homosexuality.
The poignant sculpture, erected in 1994, is inscribed with these words: “Homosexual men and women were persecuted and murdered in Nazi Germany. The crimes were denied, the dead concealed, the survivors scorned and prosecuted. We remember this, in the awareness that men who love men and women who love women still face persecution.“
9. Pink Triangle Monument: Sitges, Spain
Located in the coastal town of Sitges, the inverted Pink Triangle Monument was the first LGBTQ monument in Spain.
It was unveiled in 2006 to mark the 10th anniversary of the 1996 riots occasioned by a police raid of gay men on the beach and the murder of a gay waiter by neo-Nazis.
The seaside structure is etched with the inscription: “Sitges against homophobia – ‘Never again’ – October 5, 1996 – 2006.”
10. Memorial to Homosexuals Persecuted Under Nazism: Berlin, Germany
Like the Frankfurter Engel, this monument remembers the thousands of LGBTQ individuals persecuted under Nazi Rule. It was designed by artists Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset and unveiled in Berlin in 2008.
This concrete cube has a window on the front side through which visitors can watch a short clip of same-sex kiss. The cube also has a commemorative signboard written in both English and German.