Rainbow Trail

Rainbow Trail

Welcome to the Rainbow Trail, which explores gender and sexual diversity across time, place and culture.

This trail was designed by Natalie McGrath and Dr Jana Funke (University of Exeter) together with young LGBTQIA+ people from the X-Plore Youth
Group and Exeter College’s LGBTQ+ Society.

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RAMM trail Map

Mother goddess figurine

Mother goddess figurine

Mother goddess figurine
(Object 1 of 9)

Can you spot the ceramic figurine
of a headless person nursing
two children? It shows a fertility
goddess, the Dea Nutrix.

What does this figurine represent?
What purpose did it serve?

Such figures have been interpreted
as remnants of pre-Greek and pre-
Roman matriarchal societies that
were focused on women and that
were erased by later patriarchal
societies structured around men.
Jane Ellen Harrison (1850-1928),
a British classicist and feminist
who had several relationships
with other women, developed this
argument.

What would history look like if it
were written from the perspective
of cisgender and transgender
women? Or non-binary people?

Formal gown

Formal gown

Formal gown
(Object 2 of 9)

Look for an elaborate formal
gown made of hand-painted
Chinese silk.

In Ryan Murphy's television show
Pose (2018), a group of friends steal
royal costumes from a museum
to use in their drag acts. The show
depicts the New York ball scene of
the 1980s, a flourishing subculture
created by Black and Latino trans
and queer people. Legendary
black queens like Pepper LaBeija
(1948-2003) or Venus Xtravaganza
(1965-1988) were famous for their
grand costumes and often drew
inspiration from history to craft
their own performances.

Which objects from the museum
would you use in your own drag
show?

Longcase clocks

Longcase clocks

Longcase clocks
(Object 3 of 9)

Time along with same-sex desire,
art and beauty are key themes in
The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890),
a novel by Irish author Oscar
Wilde (1854-1900). Dorian does
not age and enjoys seemingly
eternal youth.

How have age and ageing
affected your identity?

In 1895, Wilde was convicted of
gross indecency with men, leading
to two years of hard labour, which
sadly destroyed his health. His
work lives on and has inspired
generations of writers, theatre, film
and TV makers.

Do you know when male
homosexuality was decriminalised
in the UK?

Second World War Anderson shelter

Second World War Anderson shelter

Second World War Anderson shelter
(Object 4 of 9)

Stop at the air raid shelter.

The Second World War and the
Blitz are central to The Night
Watch (2006), a historical novel
by English author Sarah Waters
(born in 1966). Set in the 1940s,
it charts the lives of three lesbian
characters, Kay, Helen and Julia.
During the night watch, liaisons
are made and love is forged amidst
the sounds of bombs falling.

An earlier novel, The Well of
Loneliness (1928), by English
writer Radclyffe Hall (1880-1943),
similarly describes how queer
people find love at the front
during the First World War.

Why do many lesbian novelists
write historical fiction?

Tailfin of an incendiary bomb

Tailfin of an incendiary bomb

Tailfin of an incendiary bomb
(Object 5 of 9)

Explore other objects related to
The Second World War.

Mathematician and computer
scientist Alan Turing (1912-1954)
played a key role in developing the
Enigma machine during The Second
World War. His work was pivotal in
cracking the German's codes, thus
enabling the Allies to win the war.
In 1952, Turing was prosecuted for
homosexual acts and underwent
chemical castration, which led to his
premature death. He was awarded a
posthumous royal pardon in 2013.

Do you think it is enough for
Turing to be “pardoned”?

How would our understanding
of history change if we knew
more about the contributions of
LGBTQIA+ people?

Blue morpho butterfly

Blue morpho butterfly

Blue morpho butterfly
(Object 6 of 9)

Have a look at the beautiful
display of butterflies.

Why are butterflies often used
as a symbol by the LGBTQIA+
community?

In 1915, German-born American
biologist Richard Goldschmidt
(1878-1958) coined the term
intersex. He had discovered that
moths (Lymantria dispar) could be
bred to combine typically male
and female physical characteristics.

Nowadays, the term intersex is
used to refer to people who are
born with sex characteristics (such
as chromosomes or hormonal
structures) that cannot strictly be
classified as male or female. Such
variations of sex characteristics
occur naturally and, in most
cases, do not require medical
intervention.

Egyptian goose

Egyptian goose

Egyptian goose
(Object 7 of 9)

Find the Egyptian goose.

The protagonist of Orlando (1928),
a novel by English author Virginia
Woolf (1882-1941), is assigned
male at birth in the 16th century.
Aged about 30, they magically
transition physically and live as
a woman for several centuries.
Orlando repeatedly chases after
a mysterious goose without
capturing it.

What can Orlando teach us about
gender?

The book is a playful biography
of Woolf 's lover, the writer Vita
Sackville-West (1892-1962).
Sackville-West was bisexual
and identified as masculine and
feminine. After reading Orlando,
Sackville-West wondered: “What
does the goose stand for? Fame?
Love? Death? Marriage?“

What is Orlando chasing?

Effigy bottle

Effigy bottle

Effigy bottle
(Object 8 of 9)

Look for an object shaped like a
badger with a lizard on its back.

A Zuni artist made this vessel.
The Zuni people have lived in the
American Southwest for thousands
of years.

We'wha (1849-1896) was a
famous Zuni artist whose pottery
was celebrated across America.
We'wha was Lhamana, the Zuni
term for individuals who are
assigned male at birth and identify
(at least partly) as female. Lhamana
individuals are respected in Zuni
society.

Nowadays, the term Two-Spirit is
used to describe gender diverse
identities specific to some Native
American communities.

Can you find other objects by Zuni
artists nearby?

Shiva and Parvati Maharashtra

Shiva and Parvati Maharashtra

Shiva and Parvati Maharashtra
(Object 9 of 9)

Look for the figurine of Shiva
and Parvati in the display case
opposite the green robe

Shiva and Parvati are two married
Hindu deities. They are sometimes
depicted as a single god,
Ardhanari, who is half-male and
half-female.

Ardhanari has special significance
for Indian Hijra communities.

Hijras are individuals who identify
as female and who were assigned
male at birth or born intersex. Hijra
communities were criminalised
under British colonial rule.

How does colonialism affect
gender and sexually diverse
people across the globe?

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My Rainbow Trail Notes

Rainbow Trail

Rainbow Trail

Welcome to the Rainbow Trail, which explores gender and sexual diversity across time, place and culture.

This trail was designed by Natalie McGrath and Dr Jana Funke (University of Exeter) together with young LGBTQIA+ people from the X-Plore Youth
Group and Exeter College’s LGBTQ+ Society.

Welcome to the Rainbow Trail, which explores gender and sexual diversity across time, place and culture.

This trail was designed by Natalie McGrath and Dr Jana Funke (University of Exeter) together with young LGBTQIA+ people from the X-Plore Youth
Group and Exeter College’s LGBTQ+ Society.

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