‘Any right minded person would find this disgusting’
‘They shouldn’t be allowed out in public’
‘This Is My Culture 3!’ – Back by Popular Demand! June 1st noon at a VERY SECRET location to be announced on the day – Facebook event page here
On the 20th anniversary 2019 of George Michael’s ‘Outside’ – let’s do him proud!
Done with the sofa, done with the hall? Done with societal limitations on our sexual freedom? On 7th April 1998 in a Beverly Hills public toilet, so was George Michael. Last year ‘THIS IS MY CULTURE’ event, which celebrated George in his favourite Hampstead Heath bushes, was such a success we are bringing it back! 2019 is the 20th anniversary of his song ‘Outside’ – so let’s do him proud!
OUTSIDE – THIS IS OUR CULTURE event is to celebrate the life, courage and dignity of a great artist and LGBTQI+ icon by marking the anniversary of the day George Michael was ensnared by a ‘pretty’ policeman in an LA toilet and subsequently arrested for indecency. Join us to pay tribute to LGBTQI+ sexual freedom, enjoy performances and George’s music wafting through the trees.
If you want to strut your stuff and perform on the day / are press or want to get involved in any way please email email@example.com ASAP. Please spread the word to all those you think will appreciate.
See the fun from last year –
I.D. Magazine – celebrating george michael and the history of cruising
We are inviting you to help to recreate the spirit of that event. It will a celebration “somewhere Outside” but also a declaration of our rights to express our sexuality out in nature as George did. This will form part of a campaign to reclaim our “Sacred Groves” which you are welcome to join even if you cannot make this specific date.
This will be our 3rd year in this series. Our first was soon after George Michael’s death to celebrate what would have been his next birthday. Previously, he had responded to his arrest by saying “This is my culture” – which we have taken as our slogan here. The second, last year 2018, was to counter the fuss over “that” royal wedding with the “Real Qweens’ Wedding”.
Somewhere over the rainbow – To be announced on the morning of June 1st
The purpose of ‘This IS My Culture’ queer free party are –
- To be unashamed about the culture of cruising and sex in leafy spaces, such as those that George Michael and other Londoners frequent.
- To build a sense of supportive community by celebrating openly with each other in a similar way as any of the public may, without needing to seek approval from authorities to do this.
- To acknowledge the growth of the eco-sexual movement and to celebrate its practices.
- To gain momentum for these cultures to be recognized as having a right to exist and be celebrated without legal, moral and petty harassment.
- In addition, many among us also seek a more spiritual objective:- Since ancient times these lands have had “Sacred Groves” where nature-based spirituality has been practiced. We wish to see these set up as revered places again, our natural temples wherein to celebrate our culture. These deserve and have a right to legal recognition and protection.
The previous events have involved a broad coalition of different activists, many of whom initially came together via Sexual Avengers, who now continue as a very loose network these days. For #3 we are looking to work with people from Act Up London, from the Radical Faeries of Albion, the Queerseum project, the revived think-ins of London GLF, various queer pagans, Queer Love Rites and Queer Tours of London – And maybe your own organisation too!
We are organizing this one via Eco-Queer UK – firstname.lastname@example.org because the theme this time is focusing more on the rights of eco-sexuals to secure places in nature that are respected for these purposes – as well as enjoining the diverse communities of those who practice cottaging and cruising to affirm their pride in their culture. We welcome allies and other individuals who support our aims and recognize the values of these causes. We also need more people with some specific skills and resources.Please ask newly interested parties to send an email to the above address so that we have contact details available.
Contact email@example.com / firstname.lastname@example.org
The main focus will be to stage playful re-creations of the shooting of George Michael’s video for the song “Let’s Go Outside”. The first week of June is an anniversary of this.We aim to have many folk filming – we invite all participants to use their phones (with consent) or whatever equipment they have. Professional film-makers and videographers are being lined up to make a document of this. Performers and directors are invited to create their very own scenarios which may or may not involve audience participation and play.
Creativity in costume, elaboration and antics is up to everyone present !Vox pop interviews will happen – open to all to join in if desired.We invite drummers and acoustic musicians, poets and dreamers, cruisers and cottagers, drama queens and dowdy types, ritual makers and raspberry blowers, tree-huggers and free-lovers – from a diverse range of genders, sexualities and cultures.We also invite conscious contributions from allies in the Extinction Rebellion, Climate Change activists and ecologists. We protect what we love!
This is going to be another good one !yours in nature,
Miqx – On behalf of “This is My Culture”
Beauuuuutiful pics from the ‘Queer Tours of London – A Mince Through Time’ archive launch that happened in the legendary Bishopsgate Institute On 10.04.19 – archival home to radical movements across the land – thank you to Holly Buckle for the pics (book Holly at email@example.com), to all the Bishopsgate Institute fam (contact Stef Dickers at Stefan.Dickers@bishopsgate.org.uk to start your archive), everyone who made it such a fantabulous knees-up and all fighting for QUEER LOVE AND POWER EVERYWHERE!
The night was in tribute to the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprisings and the birth of the Gay Liberation Front (GLF) who started Pride. Get involved in the ongoing Gay Liberation Front movement – email firstname.lastname@example.org
There’s a handful of spaces left for the Bishopsgate Institute / Queer Tours tours – get booking click here
4 May – Out of the Archives and into the Streets: Explore Bishopsgate’s collections and find out how queer archives are created and used. Learn about the impact of gentrification on queer spaces and movements, respond to the corporatisation of Pride and unlock the revolutionary potential of the queer community.
7 May – Tour of the City: Join Andrew and Dani Dinger on this excavation of the City of London’s LGBT+ past — long since buried, but far from forgotten. Take in St Paul’s Cathedral, the north bank of the Thames and 2,000 years of history.
15 June – Tours of Earl’s Court. Hear stories of how queers fought against the police in the 1970’s to keep their leather bar, the Coleherne, open with your GLF tour guides Andrew Lumsden and Stuart Feather.
4 July – Tour of Queer Black Brixton – with Gay Liberation Front activists and Kevin Wilson: Explore Brixton’s radical black queer history with members of the original Gay Liberation Front, alongside a newer generation of black LGBTQIA+ activists. Learn about the Rock Against Fascism festival, counterculture zines such as Blackout, and black queer squatting movements.
To learn more about LGBTQ+ culture and history through Bishopsgate Institute’s upcoming courses, events, tours and public accessible Archive Collections, check out the website – www.bishopsgate.org.uk
Join us for a tour on April 25th 2019 at 3pm that marches across London’s key embassies which maintain homophobic legislation with speeches and creative civil disobedience by activists who have fled homophobic persecution.Booking details here and Facebook event page here – all press requests to email@example.com
It has been three years since Xulhaz Mannan, the publisher and co-founder of Bangladesh’s first LGBTQ magazine Roopbaan and Mahbub Rabbi Tonoy, another LGBTQ activist, were brutally murdered by religious extremists in Dhaka. However, the Detective Branch (DB) of Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP), the local investigation lead, has failed to submit the investigation report and missed 34 deadlines till April, 2019. Although the police has arrested two suspects, and one of the main killers but they are yet to arrest others murderers despite clear CCTV footages and other evidences. On the contrary, it is with grave concern that we have seen increased crackdown on LGBTQ community in Bangladesh by law enforcers.
In May 2017, 28 gay and bisexual men were arrested by Rapid Action Battalion, who later exposed them in front of the media. This has put the young men’s lives in great danger. Moreover, violence against the LGBTQ community is part of an ongoing larger crisis in Bangladesh. We Bangladeshi London based LGBT community are inviting you to join us to this Vigil: Justice for Xuhaz Mannan and Mahbub Rabbi Tonoy.J
Mazharul Islam, LGBTQ activist from Bangladesh said: Three years have been passed since Xulhaz Mannan, the publisher and co-founder of Roopban and another LGBTQ activist were brutally murdered by religious activist in Bangladesh which is one of the commonwealth countries where homosexuality is a crime and the punishment is lifetime imprisonment under the section 377 penal code. As a LGBTQ activist from Bangladesh I want justice for my friends Xulhaz Mannan and Mahbub Rabbi Tonoy and also want commonwealth leaders to take necessary steps to abolish the law against homosexuality among all the commonwealth countries including Bangladesh to give us the freedom to live in our own countries as any other normal citizen.
Everyone interested in learning about and building an international movement of QUEER LOVE AND COMMUNITY is very welcome.
Kat Kai Kol-Kes, ARTivist from Botswana said: ‘The laws in the Commonwealth states speak in languages inscribed on LGBT+ bodies as bleeding scars. The time has come for states to see these scars and for the cause of the Commonwealth to take responsibility for enabling the recovery process.’
The tour exists to celebrate and support the next generation of artists, activists and change-makers dedicated to ending homophobia, transphobia and all forms of oppression agitating for a global movement of creative activism to decriminalise homosexuality everywhere and provide true freedom for all.
The vigil and tour guide is Mazharul Islam – Attitude Pride Award Winner 2018 – one of the pioneer LGBT activists from Bangladesh who fled from his country immediately after the killing two of LGBT activists friends.
The tour will give you a brief idea of Bangladeshi LGBT movements; How these movements started; what is the current situation of Bangladeshi LGBT movements, what is the future of Bangladeshi LGBT movements; how the Roopbaan Magazine was published; how the murder of Xulhaz Mannan and Mahbub Rabbi Tonoy took place in Bangladesh and what we here in London can do to support the Bangaldeshi queer community here and abroad.
Amnesty International – Take action for Human Rights – ‘Hacked to death for defending LGBTIQ Rights’ – send a letter of support to Xulhaz’ family – click here – Tell Bangladesh to bring Xulhaz’s killers to justice.
‘QUEER TOURS OF LONDON – A Mince Through Time’ exist to shine a light on London’s rich LGBTQI history through creative and life-affirming interactive tours – www.queertoursoflondon.com / @ firstname.lastname@example.org
Tell Bangladesh to bring Xulhaz’s killers to justice.‘QUEER TOURS OF LONDON – A Mince Through Time’ exist to shine a light on London’s rich LGBTQI history through creative and life-affirming interactive tours – www.queertoursoflondon.com / @ email@example.com
Queer Tours of London in association with London Artists Projects welcomes ‘SARAH SCHULMAN – ‘A witness to her times’ – Edmund White, New York Times – Four days of coalition politics and queer liberty
Where – 1st May @ RICH MIX / 2nd May @ SOAS / 3rd and 4th May @ ICA
Sarah Schulman is joined by Dan Glass and Travis Alabanza in a 4-day London event reflecting on the challenges and opportunities for coalition politics and queer liberty. Over four days the event will explore how to harness the power of coalition politics and queer liberty, what makes them work, and what can be learned from their history to propel change in the present.
In this global cataclysm of white supremacy, patriarchy and occupation we need active political movements and coalitions that are effective and that allow us to energize each other in support and difference. ACT UP London, London Artists Projects and Queer Tours of London – A Mince Through Time has invited Sarah Schulman for a week of debate, investigation, and envisioning at Rich Mix, SOAS and ICA.
ABOUT SARAH SCHULMAN
Sarah Schulman is a novelist, nonfiction writer, playwright, screenwriter and AIDS historian. For more than three decades, her work as a novelist, nonfiction writer, playwright, screenwriter and AIDS historian is devoted to social change and to the making of more liveable-socially, economically, politically-lives. Her most famous works include The Gentrification of the Mind: Witness to a Lost Imagination and Israel/Palestine and the Queer International, both of which foreground the relevance of gender/sexual politics in understanding, and challenging, violent socio-political systems; the former through a history of AIDS and gentrification in New York; the latter through an exploration of the role of ‘pinkwashing’ and ‘homonationalism’ in the continued occupation of Palestinian Territories.
Sarah is and has always been a passionate activist and campaigner and is a member of the international direct action group ACT-UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power); founder of The ACT UP Oral History Project (www.actuporalhistory,org); co-founder of the Lesbian Avengers; and co-founder of MIX: NYC Experimental Film Festival, now in its 31st year. She is on the Advisory Board of Jewish Voice for Peace and is active in Palestine Solidarity.
Sarah has published 20 books and her current project: Let The Record Show: A Political History of Act Up will be published in 2020. Sarah’s novels range from literary to experimental, futuristic, historical and the recent return to lesbian detective pulp Maggie Terry. Her current stage project is a collaboration with Marianne Faithfull, The Snow Queen, which will premiere at the Manchester Factory in 2022.
Screening and post-film discussion/Q&A with Sarah Schulman, Dan Glass and more, party and DJ’s.
Tickets from £7 – Event details – ticket link here
Sarah screens her seminal film United in Anger: A History of ACT-UP followed by Q&A with Sarah, Dan Glass of Queer Tours of London, and special guests. The film combines startling archival footage that puts you on the ground with the activists and remarkably insightful interviews from the ACT UP Oral History Project to explore ACT UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power) from a grassroots perspective and how a small group of men and women of all races, sexualities and classes, came together to change the world and save each other’s lives.
“United in Anger: A History of ACT UP delivers a living tribute to a movement spawned by death and despair” New York Times
Doors 6:30pm / Film 730pm-9pm / Q&A 915-10pm / Party until 11pm
Dan Glass is a sex-positive, queer, healthcare and human rights award-winning activist, performer and writer. Reforming ‘Aids Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP) London chapter in 2012 has catalysed healthcare and sex-positive programmes including campaigning for PREP, HIV Blind Date, protecting the National Health Service as well as enabling ‘HIV anti-stigma classes as part of the Beyond UKIP Cabaret in Nigel Farage’s boozer. Dan has won Attitude Magazine’s campaigning role models for LGBTQI youth + a Guardian ‘UK youth climate leader’ and 2017 ‘Activist of the Year’ with the ‘Sexual Freedom Awards’. An agitator from the Training for Transformation educational programme born out of the Anti-Apartheid movement, the core of dan’s work is the development of critical consciousness and creativity to spur people ‘to read their reality and write their own history’. His recent programmes involve MC’ing ‘Shafted?!’ a speakeasy led by people with HIV and the ‘Never Again Ever! Beyond UKIP Cabaret in Nigel Farage’s boozer. Dan recently co-founded ‘Queer Tours of London – A Mince Through Time’ see below. Contact dan at www.theglassishalffull.co.uk and at firstname.lastname@example.org – Twitter #danglassisfull
SOAS ‘Speech Act’s programme, Queer Tours of London in association with London Artists Projects welcomes ‘SARAH SCHULMAN – ‘A witness to her times’ – Edmund White, New York Times – Four days of coalition politics and queer liberty
Panel and Q+A with keynote speaker ‘Sarah Schulman’
Sarah Schulman reviews the roots of AIDS activism in Feminism, Civil Rights, and Black Power, presenting ideas from her current work-in-progress Let The Record Show: A Political History of ACT UP, New York (out in 2020) which is the result of 188 interviews conducted over 18 years. Rejecting the whitening of AIDS history, and examining the movements’ mistakes as well as victories, Schulman will share ideas and information with the hope of stimulating new approaches and attitudes to working together effectively for change.
Sarah says: ‘Given how many different kinds of people are under attack, the idea of one strategy, interpretation or approach is absurd. Lets aim to elevate each other in our different circumstances and resistances, while retaining basic common values of justice’.
Room – Khalili Lecture Theatre, SOAS, Torrington Square, Bloomsbury, London WC1H 0XG
The venue is fully accessible.
Ticket link here – All profits go to ‘ACT UP LONDON’ – ACT UP London is a diverse, non-partisan group of individuals united in anger and committed to direct action to end the HIV pandemic, along with the broader inequalities and injustices that perpetuate it.
Curated by: Erkan Affan.
Venue: Institute of Contemporary Art – Cinema 1
What is the future direction of coalition politics? How can marginalized queer communities utilize coalition politics to challenge authoritarianism?
Building on the explorations of Sarah Schulman’s ‘Gentrification of the Mind’, this evening’s discussion will be spearheaded with a contextualization of how both individuals and organisations here in London can utilise coalition politics to :
- Tackle the increase of cultural gentrification in historically diverse, cosmopolitan cities such as London,
- Fight against the rampant commercialization of the LGBTQIA+ community and its cultures, evident through the big-money sponsorships of Pride in London and the closure of over 50% of queer venues in the city since 2007
- Produce international networks of solidarity and activism that are broader than a border, transcending state-centric politics and establishing a coalition of resistance with oppressed communities worldwide.
Joining Sarah Schulman for this evening, we have four extra special guests that play an integral role in provoking and maintaining London’s coalitional queer socio-political architecture.
Travis Alabanza: A London based artist, writer and thinker. In the last four years Alabanza has carved and created much public conversation around the intersections of Blackness, Gender, transness and class, and been noted by numerous publications (MOBO, Dazed, Artsy) as one of the most prominent current trans artistic voices that have emerged. Their work has crossed mediums, venues and form, appearing at Tate Galleries, V&A, performing internationally at venues such as Harvard, Royal Exchange, ICA, Hamburg International and Lyric Hammersmith, and their writing published in The Guardian, Buzzfeed, Independent and more. Their recent show Burgerz, documenting and analysing being trans in public space, sold out to rave reviews and was voted among Guardian’s 2018 readers best choice for theatre and was published by Oberon play text. Recent work includes Ridiculous of Darkness (Gate Theatre) and ‘I wanted to fuck up the system but none of my friends texted back’ (Wellcome Collection). Photo credit Eivind Hansen
Lewis G Burton: a non-binary London-based performance artist and DJ. They co-founded the performance art platform-come-queer techno rave INFERNO. As an extension of INFERNO, Burton curated a two-day seminar exploring the intersections between performance art, nightlife, music and queerness entitled SUMMIT in February 2018. Lewis plans to continue this summit annually. Additionally, they are currently a member of the collective Pxssy Palace, a queer collective/club night that centres queer womxn, trans, non-binary and intersex people of colour.
Aviah Sarah Day: a member of the East End branch of Sisters Uncut – a national, feminist direct action group fighting cuts to domestic violence services. She has recently completed her PhD titled “Partnership and Power: Domestic Violence, the Women’s Sector and the Criminal Justice System”. Aviah also has several years of experience in a range of front line domestic violence services. Currently, she is researching and campaigning against the increased criminalization of survivors of domestic violence in the UK.
Erkan Affan is a queer writer and independent activist of colour based between the UK and Germany. With a background in Middle Eastern politics, gender and migration, their research has focused notably on the experiences of advocacy and transnational solidarity for queer migrants in Berlin. An avid believer of decolonising the contemporary structures of knowledge, they are currently conducting a residency in Berlin – funded by the European Commission – to challenge the inaccessible nature of academia and encourage more opportunity for self-representation through dialogue and discussion. Photo by Leviticus Hinds
4th May ICA at 6.30pm – Venue: Institute of Contemporary Art – Cinema 1
A reading and discussion on her most recent fiction: The Cosmopolitans and Maggie Terry, and the second edition of her collected journalism: My American History: Lesbian and Gay Life During the Teagan/Bush Year’s.
Curated by: Erkan Affan.
PRESS AND GENERAL CONTACTS
Dan glass – email@example.com
Erkan Gursel – firstname.lastname@example.org
Jeremy Goldstein – email@example.com
THANK YOU TO OUR ORGANISING CREW!
Leviticus Hinds, Erkan Gursel (see above), Jo Alloway, Anna Campbell and last but not least …
Jeremy Goldstein is a producer, writer, performer and HIV+ activist with ACT UP London. In 2000, he founded London Artists Projects, which the Guardian has described as ‘an evocative theatrical wonderland’. He has commissioned and produced shows with many celebrated artists winning awards including Evening Standard, Fringe First, h.Club, London Cabaret and BBC Audio Drama. In 2012 he was named in Time Out as among the 100 most influential people in UK culture for ‘proving political theatre can be fun and outrageous’. Jeremy is also creator of ‘Truth to Power Cafe’ which is touring the UK in 2019/20 opening at Royal Exchange Theatre Manchester on 26th and 27th April.
Olimpia is a doctoral researcher and activist based in London. With a background in anthropology and politics, her research focuses on queering LGBT diversity & inclusion and imagining alternative ways of living and organizing. She is also involved with the Friends of the Joiners Arms campaign working to open London’s first queer, late-license, community-owned and community-run, pub.
WHEN – 10th April – 6.30-9.30pm
WHERE – Bishopsgate Institute, 230 Bishopsgate, London, EC2M 4QH
BOOKING – The launch is free and the Bishopsgate Institute is fully accessible – please book here.
Queer Tours of London launched in 2017 for the 50th anniversary of partial decriminalisation of homosexuality in Britain. The tours exist to shine a light on London’s rich LGBT history through interactive tours, artistic interventions, protests and informative events. Through exploring themes of power, sex, identity and spaces the tours aim to provide a better understanding of queer history, build for our queer future and generate support for London’s queer and sex-positive communities.
Bishopsgate Institute is proud to hold the Queer Tours Archive and is delighted to be hosting this archive launch event in 2019, the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots and the birth of the Gay Liberation Front (GLF) who started Pride. Come and listen, learn, love and celebrate with those who made it happen.
Free event: booking required.
Thank you to Levi Hinds for the photos! Thank you to all the special performances, DJ sets and dances from the original GLF members, the phenomenal NOSCAR winning Nash Paragon Langley, Alexis Gregory and Team Angelica’s ‘RIOT ACT’ show, Brighton’s very own Afropunk goddess ‘Baby’, songs from soul-child Sarah Angel (firstname.lastname@example.org), winner of ‘Pride’s Got Talent’ Lamont Ricketts, Pop/Soul singer and choir director Jordan Charles (Jrscharles@hotmail.co.uk), the cast from upcoming ‘Arcola’ show ‘They Them We Us’ (email@example.com) and Queer London DJ legends Auntie Maureen (firstname.lastname@example.org) – Music Curator & Performance DJ and Beckah, all at REDON and last but not least the founding members of Pride in London – the Gay Liberation Front!
Thank you to Levi Hinds and Holly Buckle for the photos! Thank you to all the special performances, DJ sets and dances from the original GLF members, the phenomenal NOSCAR winning Nash Paragon Langley, Alexis Gregory and Team Angelica’s ‘RIOT ACT’ show, Brighton’s very own Afropunk goddess ‘Baby’, songs from soul-child Sarah Angel (email@example.com), winner of ‘Pride’s Got Talent’ Lamont Ricketts, Pop/Soul singer and choir director Jordan Charles (Jrscharles@hotmail.co.uk), the cast from upcoming ‘Arcola’ show ‘They Them We Us’ (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Queer London DJ legends Auntie Maureen (email@example.com) – Music Curator & Performance DJ and Beckah, all at REDON and last but not least the founding members of Pride in London – the Gay Liberation Front! Thank you to all the organisers including the fantabulous Jason Jones, Joshua Hubbard, Kiku Aruba Basu and all at REDON! Mega Love to Joseph Wilson for the film above – contact Joseph at www.josephwilsonfilms.co.uk
All donations went Stansted 15 court costs and a year of grassroots activism to reclaim Pride for all on this special year. Get in touch and get involved – all details at www.queertoursoflondon.com / firstname.lastname@example.org – WE ARE HERE! WE ARE STILL VERY QUEER! 😉
To book any of the artists email email@example.com and we shall put you directly in touch.
This is the space for all Gay Liberation Front (GLF) Activists and new friends to connect, celebrate and plot for the upcoming significant anniversaries –
2019 – 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots
2020 – 50th anniversary of GLF UK
2022 – 50th anniversary of Pride
We are having monthly ‘think in’s’ to develop our demands and action plans. Everyone new or old to the movement and who is committed to ‘LIBERATION FOR ALL’ is very welcome.
Upcoming ‘Think In’s’ – all at the same venue – Library Reception, London School of Economics and Political Science, 10 Portugal St, London WC2A 2HD, UK
Think In 6 – Wednesday March 20th 6-8.30pm – facebook event page here
On Thursday I discovered through reading ‘Queer London’ by Matt Houlbrook that my local bank in Whitechapel used to be London’s most notorious queer den of inequity or ‘Miss Muff’s Molly House’ in 1728 – a jewel in the crown on the colonised road of our sexual history.
On Friday I ran a workshop with queer homeless youth from across London (1/4 of homeless youth are queer) who – inspired by reading books about the Stonewall Riots, Marsha P Johnson and Street Action Trans Revolutionaries (STAR) started a reading group and are now building a queer housing campaign.
Yesterday I started re-reading ‘Fingersmith’ by Sarah Waters and went for a sunset mince down Lant Street in Borough to imagine life amongst the thieves in the moonlit underbelly of Victorian queer London – and wonder how the modern-day cultural thieves (or ‘politicians’ some say) behind ‘Section 28‘ manage to sleep at night knowing that today economic inequality in our streets is wider than in the times of Dickens.
And I’ve just come back from a morning run to Tower Bridge – past a lesbian couple smooching against a tree and a handsome queen with eyes twinkling in the sun – to pay homage at Derek Jarman’s new plaque, his film ‘Jubilee’ and to dream of anarchy against a governmental system across the river who – yet to apologise for criminalising us in the past – are hellbent upon destroying our queer present and utopia.
Looking down at the murky Thames water it’s easy to wonder how much of our queer life has been lost but not so far away off Russell Square there’s an anchor holding our freedoms in place. ‘Gays the Word’ – the chefs in the holy kitchen of queerdom – who every day dish out knowledge that empowers our community to be proud of our history and bring life to our future.
So I’m so glad Friday night’s 40th celebration of ‘Gays the Word’* was the beauuuutiful tribute it needed to be. Incredible performances and readings in front of hundreds of fans whose hearts swell knowing how much revolutionary love one small bookshop can catalyse across the world. It was spellbinding.
No words do justice to the emotions pouring out of that room and for once I was lost for words (they’ve come back now;)) – an irony that shows the powers of a magical little place called ‘Gays the Word’. dan glass and all at ‘Queer Tours of London – A Mince Through Time’ 🙂
* 66 Marchmont St, Kings Cross, London WC1N 1AB – our Bloomsbury queer tours end up at Gays The Word – book at firstname.lastname@example.org / www.queertoursoflondon.com
‘Equality Zap’ for access finds progress towards disability access in Soho
On 02.02.19 – A year and a half on from a ‘Queer Disability Tour’ highlighting LGBTQI venues which denied disabled people access, campaigners have found the majority of gay bars and clubs stepping up for equality – and others continuing to fail disabled people.
The ‘Queer Tours of London – A Mince Through Time’ group visited six venues in Soho, asking them what access changes had been made since the group’s first visit in July 2017, when the campaigners requested that the venues improved disabled access.
Of the six venues, five had installed temporary ramps, while one, Comptons, has also installed a sign and doorbell.
Four promised to put up a window sticker so that passers by can see that stepfree access is available.
One, Balans, which has a step into the premises and no ramp, had made no changes since the campaigners first requested that they improve access. When questioned, the manager on duty would not commit to implementing equality for their disabled customers.
Since 1995, pubs and bars have had a legal duty to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ such as purchasing a portable ramp to ensure that disabled customers can access their premises with the same freedom and independence as non-disabled customers. However, compliance is poor.
The group is now considering legal action against Balans under the 2010 Equality Act.
‘Before I was de-motivated about the whole thing but this year i feels we have achieved something! We’ve got somewhere and we are gonna move it to another level if they don’t do something this year. Get moving because we are coming for you people!’ Kevin Wilson, ‘Queer Disability Justice Tour’ guide and activist
‘It’s easy. I ordered the ramp and access sticker in a day, and put in the doorbell overnight. ‘Why should people have to question whether they are allowed to come. All of a sudden you allow people that might not have thought they could come into the venue that they care about us.’ James Bartlett, Manager, Old Comptons.
“It’s great to see that more LGBTQ venues in Soho are getting serious about inclusion and equality, making the changes that ensure their disabled customers can have a night out without access stress.
More than twenty years after the Disability Discrimination Act, it’s just unacceptable that there are still venues out there turning away disabled customers. A ramp costs £50 – why would you not want to comply with the law?” Lianna Etkind, Queer Disability Justice activist
Chris Nagel has been the head doorman at Freedom for over 19 years. He said: “We are putting in access because it is a must. Everyone should be able to come into the venue.”
Shane Knight, who works at the Duke of Wellington, said: “We’ve had a ramp for years. It’s about access for all”.
Karl Nixon, from the Admiral Duncan pub, said: “We got a ramp, and we’re going to get a sticker [to let people know a ramp is available], because it’s important to the gay community and beyond. We have a lot of people coming in with wheelchairs now, it has made a difference”.
Notes to Editors:
1. Kevin Wilson can be contacted for interview on email@example.com / Photo credits – Holly Buckle / Video credits – Sophie Falkenburg
‘Queer Tours of London – A Mince Through Time’exist to shine a light on London’s rich LGBTQI history through creative and life-affirming interactive tours. We tell the stories of London’s queer history, shedding light on the lives, spaces, identities, repression and resistance that form the backdrop of LGBTQI lives today. We do this through educational, accessible and interactive walking tours, cabarets, street-art and events that bring life to the complexities and lived experiences of our history, present and vision for the future. ‘Queer Tours of London’ are for everyone in London – visitors and residents – to be inspired by our history and get involved in our future.We also welcome requests for special-themed tours, private tours and all kinds of collaborations. Contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org for all involvement / press requests / collaborations.
3. The Equality Act 2010, which replaced the Disability Discrimination Act of 1995, makes it unlawful not to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ to enable disabled people to access goods and services. Reasonable adjustments may include include a ramp; a lift; a large print menu or a hearing loop. More information at www.equalityhumanrights.com/en/multipage-guide/using-service-reasonable-adjustments-disabled-people
4. Coverage of the July 2017 action: https://www.vice.com/en_uk/article/a33gjg/the-highs-and-lows-of-clubbing-with-a-physical-disability
5. The Equality ‘Zap’ was in the tradition of ‘Zaps’ originally organised by gay activists in the 1970s. ‘Zaps’ have continued to be used by LGBTQI activists throughout the 1980s and 1990s and beyond. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zap_(action)
|Venue||2018 Changes Made|
|Admiral Duncan||Have ramp – but don’t have a sign in window – GM wasn’t aware should have one. But very happy to talk to us and accommodating.|
|Comptons||James was really amazing. They had a ramp and disability sign. Talked about how a few years ago there was an incident in which they didn’t know where the ramp was, since then they have taken changes to make the venue way more accessible.Has taken huge changes.|
|Balans||Seemed super disinterested and uncaring.“I have only been here 9 months”Saw it as a structural issues that just wasn’t in his hands!Really poor accessibility – no ramp. Didn’t commit to any promises|
|Yard Bar||Is movable ramp, but not visible. Don’t have sign letting people know but happy to put sticker up.|
|Duke of Wellingtons||Ramp available.|
|Freedom||Kevin had spoken to Chris Nagel, head doorman a few weeks ago, and he said he would put up visibility sign – not there yet.However very receptive, and said would put in sign in 2 weeks max.|
Movable ramp is there, but supervisor didn’t know how to use it.