The Western Australian Museum in Perth, Australia recently acquired a rather controversial new item for its collection: a glory hole from the city of Gosnells.
Its explicit nature, however, is stirring up controversy for the museum.
Neil Buckley, from Perth, saved the door from the train station when the city decided to redevelop the building in 1998. He has now donated the door to the museum, saying ‘It’s really an important part of social history and this is how we used to have sex at a time when it (homosexuality) was illegal.’ Covert glory holes — round holes in doors or walls — allowed people to discreetly engage in sexual acts. They were especially used by gay men, as homosexuality was illegal in western Australia at the time.
That part of Australia did not decriminalize private sexual acts between same-sex people until 1990. Further, only this year were people allowed to expunge such a conviction from their record. Buckley continued: ‘Because it was illegal we had to go to a beat that was off the main drag and that was the only place many men could meet other gay men because it was still illegal in clubs.’
What’s the controversy about?
Arts Minister Tony Krsticevic called the display of a glory hole ‘tacky’.
‘While it is appropriate for the WA Museum to chronicle the rich and proud LGBTI community as a significant element in the State’s history, such an object is too tacky for display at what will be such a great new venue,’ he said.
He added he’s also not sure it will be a ‘suitable exhibit’ for children to see.
Chief executive of the museum Alec Coles countered this and said museums need to represent all aspects of society.
‘Clearly the LGBTQI community is a very important part of Perth’s society,’ he stated.
‘We often talk about museums as safe places for unsafe ideas.’ Museums, he continued, allowed for the exploration of ‘contentious’ topics in a ‘responsibile and measured way’.
Curators will ultimately decide when and how to exhibit it.
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