Discussion in 'Brixton' started by editor, May 10, 2004.
Definitely, really looking forward to seeing more.
This is such a fascinating thread - I've lived on Railton Road for a decade - and around Brixton for twice that long: I knew bits and pieces of its radical history but the stories on here are extraordinary. Many thanks to all who have contributed.
Incidently if you have a little peer over the wall between the health centre and the church you can still see the legacy of the communal garden space.
(Apologies to any residents who saw me doing that over the weekend: I wasn't casing...)
I'm now working through the photos and hope to get them published in the next week. It's a fascinating collection.
Here's a taster:
i take it the above is not a meeting of the gay police association...
Stockwell Surrey Halls, 1973
My first contact with South London GLF was at a dance they put on at Surrey Halls in Stockwell on Saturday October 20th, 1973. They advertised it in Gay News, which you could buy from the newsstand outside Clapham Common Station. I was aged 23 and new to London and living in digs in Park Lane, SW4 at the time and when I plucked up the courage to pay the entrance fee and go upstairs it was a lifechanging experience.
It was just like all the rural village hall discos I'd known as a teenager: loads of shy people sitting round the outside of the room in the semi-dark and somebody playing records. The crucial difference was that men were dancing with men and women were dancing with women. For the first time ever in that innocent non-predatory environment it was OK to just to go up to a man you fancied and ask if he fancied a dance... it may sound banal nowadays, but back then it was a huge liberation. For me, dancing had been one of those things from schooldays - like football - that I'd never really "got" the point of. That night, thanks to South London GLF, the penny dropped.
Afterwards on the way out I bought a "Come Out" badge, a GLF badge and a copy of "With Downcast Gays - Aspects of Homosexual Self-Oppression" by Andrew Hodges and David Hutter. It completely changed the way I thought about queer sexuality - you can still read it online here...
I went to the Gay Community Centre in Railton Road a number of times and knew people like Julian Hows, Malcolm Greatbanks, Sue Wakeling, Bill Thorneycroft, Lloyd Vanata, Alistair Kerr and John Lloyd. It's astonishing that nobody's written a full documented account of that vibrant, extraordinary Railton Road community before now - but gratifying to see that people are willing to piece its history together bit by bit on this forum.
My wife (whom I met at a Gay Switchboard benefit in 1982) also hung out with the South London gay community later in the 70s and knew many of the same people - she was more involved with the theatre crowd who used to work and hang out at Oval House. Her name is Sue Brearley if that rings any bells for anyone?
Brixton gay community
Nope. Definitely not the Gay Police Association. These coppers are guarding the Gay Community Centre at 78 Railton Road with bailiffs in toe during the eviction proceedings in April or May 1976. Lambeth Council had compulsorily purchased the building from a private solicitor and nursing agency for redevelopment. They subsequtnely flattened it along with 80 Railton Road (one of the two womens' centres on the road) and replaced it with paving stones and shrubs to prettify the entrance to St George's Residences. They still haven't put up a pink plaque where the Centre used to stand.
There's so much info to post up, I'm going to turn it into a 3-4 page mini feature.
The queerest of the queer.
Did Sue speak out about her Bisexuality at the Gay Center like I did, and did she have a restaurant type place in Clapham Common.
As ever, while looking for something else, I find that the 56a Info Shop in Walworth has an archive, which includes some stuff (no idea how much - this is just a subject list) on the radical faeries.
It does indeed. I used to work for the same organisation and she lived round the corner from me. I remember her great little dog with the goggles and flying helmet that went to work with her on the motorbike.
No, this was Sue Wakeling and she had a cafe/restaurant on Wandsworth Common. I used to work there.
You done this yet Ed?!!
I've processed the images (there's a lot of them) but it's going to take a bit longer.
Cool, just checking
Cheers Ian and thanks for your contribution to this thread.
I haven't forgotten about this - it's just that I'm currently working on another new Brixton project that needs to get going first...
The Brixton Fairies and the South London Gay Community Centre, Brixton 1974-6
Ace Ed! Good work
(like the new look/scheme on the blog too)
Thanks. I went though a zillion Wordpress themes before finding one that did what I wanted!
Thanks Mike. Given all the photos and text I threw in your direction you have done a fantastic job. Well done. I'm sure it will raise a lot of interest and contribute to a history of Brixton in revealing what would otherwise have been a 'hidden' aspect if it had not been for this site and our efforts.
Unfortunately the text I supplied is a bit threadbare. It was designed to fit in with the photographs and illustrations. Hopefully we will get people contributing to fill in the gaps and correct any errors on my part.
One point about attribution. All the material I sent to you was originally in my possession. However I deposited it at the Hall-Carpenter Archive based at the LSE. I thought I would give them a plug.
I realise you have been very busy and it has taken you quite some time to put this together but one again thanks for your Herculean efforts.
This is an excellent piece of work Ed.
It's now about to celebrate its 8th birthday and it's managed to lure Tom Robinson into posting, a very impressive thread. The Editor really is the thinking man's Robert Elms
Tom Robinson posted on this thread? Really?
(Five minutes later...)
Ah, I see.
I was just reading the posts.
Well done to the editor for the great article first of all
We are a couple of gay film-makers who live in the Brixton area and we would like to do a documentary about this amazing story!
We have friends who currently live in the community who have given us their account about the community, but we found this forum a great resource
At the moment we are writing a proposal in order to raise funding and we would like to include already a list of possible interviewees, so we are asking to all those who have been there (especially in the early days) to get in touch if they would be willing to participate
should have said well tone to Ian Townson too for the article!
Hi i'm writing a feature on the Brixton Fairies and would love if you would be willing to speak to me about your first hand experiences since I see you were part of the group.
Would really appreciate if you could be of some help.
I think you should say who you're writing the feature for!
Separate names with a comma.