Best of the Bay 2011: BEST QUEER EXHIBITIONISM

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It seems crazier than a Twinkie defense that San Francisco — one of the hottest of hotspots in terms of queer liberation and visibility — hasn't had a history museum to preserve and explore all the wonder of LGBT life. Until now. In January, the 25-year-old GLBT Historical Society found a permanent space to display and interpret its vast archives of paper, photos, films, and audio recordings: the GLBT History Museum. The first of its kind in the U.S., the sleek storefront gallery may be small, but it packs a huge emotional and educational punch. From FBI files to feminist sex toys, radical activist pamphlets to old-school gay bar flyers, the museum's lavender arsenal has ripped the lid off the often obscured queer past, and attracted tens of thousands of curious visitors (Britney Spears among them).

4127 18th St., SF. (415) 621-1107, www.glbthistory.org/museum