Once again, Royal Museums Greenwich will be one of the Hub venues hosting OUTing The Past in London. Sacha Coward, Community Participation Producer at RMG, filled us in on what’s coming up at the venue.
Mermaids are currently very ‘in’; You can buy mermaid coffees, mermaid hair dye, mermaid fancy dress and the most recent season of popular reality TV series RuPaul’s Drag Race featured an entire episode devoted to Mermaids. In particular mermaids and other hybrid mythical creatures resonate with a queer audience, one need only spend a few minutes on queer Tumblr and Instagram to find a plethora of LGBTQ+ folk who are obsessed with mixed up magical creatures and monsters. But is this a recent fad or is there a deeper queer root?
As someone who has spent the past 4 years working at the National Maritime Museum in London I am in the rare position of being surrounded by mermaids. (They crop up in paintings, artworks, cartography and manuscripts symbolising all manner of different things, from the dangerous feminine to the mysterious unknown.) I would like to argue that our contemporary image of mermaids is a very queer story indeed. From ‘The Little Mermaid’ which was written after Hans Christian Anderson was rejected by a same-sex object of desire, to Evelyn De Morgan who obsessively painted her model over and over again as beautiful sirens in one of her paintings. There are as many queer stories to the mermaid mythos and as there are scales on a mermaid’s tail!
Community Participation Producer