‘If these walls could talk’ – visiting key London queer hotspots for Queer Tours research

If these walls could talk ……

A fab day of reccie-ing London’s queer history with the amazing Eliza Goroya as we prep for the launch of ‘Queer Tours of London – A Mince Through Time’ next year – to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the ‘decriminalisation’ of homosexuality in England.

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The main Soho sites here are –

1. The Colony Room – 41 Dean Street – home of counter-cultural bohemian mis-fits and outsiders founded in 1948 by the legendary lesbian Muriel Belcher described as “an imperious lesbian with a fondness for insulting banter” who engraved ‘CUNTY’ on the front till.

2. The Golden Lion – 51 Dean Street – gay bar since the 1920’s – and still exists!

3. The Cave of the Golden Calf, 9 Heddon Street – notoriously decadent first ‘recorded’ gay bar, founded 1912 – said to introduce London to new concepts of nightlife and provided a solid model for future nightclubs. It’s name was a reference to the Golden Calf of the Biblical story, an icon of impermissable worship. Gordon Ramsay’s flagship London restaurant is now there. I asked if they had any idea what went on in their toilets 100 years ago. No response – as yet.

4. The Glassblower – 40-42 Glasshouse Street – Est 1892 – Epicentre of ‘Dilly Boys’ / (sex workers / rent boys and girls) who sought sanctuary, refreshments and pick up’s when taking a break from under the ‘meat rack’ – the central pick up point underneath Piccadilly Circus’ neon signs. Oscar Wilde was a regular (to say the least).

5. Admiral Duncan – Est 1832. Been at the heart of Soho’s gay community and was rocked on the evening of 30 April 1999 when a nail bomb explosion killed three people and wounded around 70, planted by Neo-Nazi, David Copeland, who was attempting to stir up ethnic and homophobic tensions. Wreckage from the bomb has been made into a work of art in the pub ceiling to remember the struggle for LGBTQI rights.

6. Lily Pond – Corner of Coventry St / Piccadilly Circus – the heart of pre WW2 lesbian London “It was a sight to come and see in London, the ‘lily pond’ on a Sunday afternoon – We’d all meet there in our Sunday best. The girls were very butch. From there we would go back to someone’s flat.” Ellen, West End lesbian dancer

Please share your history. Queer Knowledge is Queer Power! @ queertoursoflondon@gmail.com

‘QUEER TOURS OF LONDON – A Mince Through Time’ are being set up to bring forth the visibility of our incredible community and the journey to how we became who we are today, launched on the 50th anniversary of decriminalisation of homosexuality – 2017.


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