As the start of June heralds the beginning of Pride Month, a wave of multicoloured merchandise has hit the shelves of retail stores around the world. While some may dismiss these offerings as predictable marketing ploys, for me, they serve as a fascinating entry point into the world of queer memorabilia. As a long-time collector and enthusiast of items that capture the pop and literary culture of the queer community, I relish the opportunity to explore the latest offerings at auctions and memorabilia shops, as well as online platforms. After careful research and curation, I’ve compiled a list of items that have caught my attention and are poised to become coveted treasures for fellow collectors and enthusiasts alike. From vintage posters to iconic T-shirts, these pieces represent not just commercial products, but also powerful symbols of resistance, identity, and creativity that have helped shape the queer movement as we know it today. I remind you it is a personal choice since I am interested mainly in pop collectable items and time to time if something is really impressive, literary and art items – as literature and art are my passion. My personal advice: always look to the new collections launched in Pride Month and you will realise what is a possible collectable and the value will increase. This is a very fresh market and now becomes extremely hot. In 10 years all the queer pop collectables will be at least twice more valuable.
Nike Epic React Flyknit Be True, 2018
Estimate price on the market €500 (for collectable sizes 42-45)
A groundbreaking sneaker by Nike that boasts a never-before-seen feature – the Pink Triangle on the back. This design element has never been used by any other sneaker company, making it truly one-of-a-kind.
The sneaker also features a vibrant rainbow sole and is constructed using state-of-the-art materials that were newly invented at the time of its creation. The attention to detail is truly remarkable. A fabulous sneaker.
My opinion: €2500 in 5 years.
Update: I own now a pair size 43, find it on Stockx. Not easy to find collectable numbers.
Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass, 1867,
Presentation copy inscribed to Peter Doyle.
Estimate price on the market €100.000
Inscribed by Whitman to his “Calamus Lover,” Peter Doyle on the front flyleaf: “Peter G. Doyle, from Walt Whitman, Washington, April 29, 1868.” Whitman probably met Peter Doyle in Washington, D.C., sometime in early 1865 while Doyle was a streetcar conductor, and—despite a number of dissimilarities: Whitman was 45, an accomplished literary figure, and an ardent Unionist, while Doyle was 21, virtually illiterate, and a Confederate veteran.
In this edition, Whitman added several new poems, but more significantly, deleted three poems that had been in the ‘Calamus’ section. Whitman eliminated those poems that ‘expressed self-doubt and despair,’ but ‘kept those which expressed love and longing unaccompanied by despair.’ … It seems likely … that Walt’s new-found confidence in love was, in large measure, a result of his satisfying friendship with Pete. The edition seems dedicated to Peter Doyle. Until his death, Withman published several editions with new poems.
My opinion: 250.000 in 5 years.
Update: auctioned by Sotheby’s and sold for €87.500. A good price and investment.
Alpha Flight #106, comic book, 1st Edition, 1992
Estimate price on the market €150 (evaluate edition, over 9 ranks)
In this issue of Alpha Flight, Northstar becomes the first superhero from a major publisher to come out as gay. The first gay superhero.
This is the only issue of Alpha Flight to receive a second printing. The second printing issues of this issue have a blue logo, as opposed to the first printing’s red logo.
My opinion: 5.000 in 10 years.
Update: I found this on eBay graded and proofed at 9.4 out of 10. A very rare item.
Original Vintage Silence = Death ACT UP T-Shirt, Keith Haring, 1990
Estimate price on the market €450
ACT UP, a group of activists, coined the phrase “Silence = Death”, appropriating the pink triangle with which the Nazi regime marked homosexuals as a badge of pride. Their goal was to make as much noise as possible, and Haring joined the cause. Keith Haring – already a famous artist – also created “Ignorance = Fear”. ACT UP and Keith Haring’s campaigns made so much noise about the AIDS pandemic and helped a lot of people.
The t-shirt becomes the symbol of the fight and was worn by activists around the world. This is an original one, from few survived, from 1990.
The original lithograph used for the famous ACT UP posters was auctioned for $6.5 million in 2017.
My opinion: €1.500-2.000 in 5 years.
The Native American headdress worn by Felipe Rose of The Village People, 1986
Estimate price on the market €1500
A relic from the famous disco band The Village People, comprised of paragons of masculinity rooted in the 1970s Greenwich Village scene, including a cowboy, a Native American, a police officer and a leatherman.
YMCA is the most famous of their songs and became an anthem of the LGBT+ community until today.
An original headpiece from the band it is priceless.
My opinion: €5.000-10.000 in 5 years.
Update: Sold in the Sotheby’s auction with €2.250.
Pop! Funko Alex DeLarge (Glow in the Dark), 2012
Estimate price on the market €50.000
Pop! Funko figure toys have long been cherished as more than mere playthings. In fact, some of these collectable pieces hold substantial value, with one particular Pop! Funko figurine reign supreme as the most expensive of its kind.
Crafted in the likeness of the protagonist from Stanley Kubrick’s 1971 dystopian crime film “A Clockwork Orange,” the Alex DeLarge Pop! Funko figurine is a sought-after item among collectors. Despite the character’s unsettling tendencies, this figurine’s worth is undeniable, owed in part to its association with Kubrick’s cinematic masterpiece and his queerness.
Inspired by Anthony Burgess’s eponymous novel, Kubrick’s “A Clockwork Orange” continues to enjoy a devoted following to this day. Its pale, effeminate, and sociopathic protagonist, Alex DeLarge, remains one of the most recognizable and controversial figures in cinematic history.
Why is so valuable? Back in 2012, Brian Mariotti, the then CEO decided to destroy all but 24 of them (12 Chase & 12 non-Chase) as a result of a copyright problem with the producers. He hand-signed and numbered each of these. As Funko would never be able to sell these pieces directly, the non-Chases were given to friends (mainly members of the Funko Funatic forum) and the Chases were given to Gemini Collectibles in early 2013 (and sold by them for $350).
Recently, I had the opportunity to witness the allure of this particular Pop! Funko figurine at an auction.
My opinion: €100.000 in 5-7 years.
Times T80, 2022
Estimate price on the market €250
Following the drop of its Pac-Man edition, Timex released its T80 Rainbow 34mm Stainless Steel Bracelet Watch in celebration of Pride in 2022. For the exclusive model, the watch brand has included rainbow accents in its design, reflecting the rainbow Pride flag. There were 2 models a gold model and a silver model. The silver model is rare because was a small number produced for the British market.
You can find it in mint condition with a little research for a decent price.
My opinion: €5.000 in 5-7 years.
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Most of the items sold already in auctions usually reappear on the market. If you want a specific item you need a specialist group to keep an eye on the market for you. Sometimes you can negotiate before the auction if you have the information.
If you need help in building and also exhibiting your collection as experienced and knowledgeable curators we take great pride and pleasure in helping you discover the extraordinary range of material that comprises LGBT+ Collectables and Memorabilia and developing a fabulous collection. Our consultancy group works with a wide range of experts in many domains including highly quality curators and artists. There is no cost in sending us an email and asking what you need: https://gay45.eu/consultancy/
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Article by Răzvan Ion supported by Queer Pop Museum
Important note: This is a pilot article. If you liked this article and you want us to do a curated selection on a permanent basis let us know. Send an email to [email protected] We will decide accordingly.
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Disclaimer: GAY45 does not benefit financially from any of the companies mentioned in this article. The opinions expressed here are solely of the author and should not be taken as advice or a guarantee of any kind. Any actions taken by readers as a result of reading this article are their own responsibility, and GAY45 is not liable for them.
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Răzvan Ion is the founder of GAY45. A professor of curatorial studies and critical thinking in Vienna, he is passionate about technology, comic books, the stock market, art, alternative music, movies, literature, and blockchain.