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The Brixton Fairies: 1970s gay squat

editor

hiraethified
Can I just tell you that as a long term Brixtonite, I am utterly fed up seeing articles that always seem to frame their content in relation to the riots (that happened a long, long time ago) or other negative aspects of the area. I don't think it's something that plays upon the minds of its residents, yet it seems to be trotted out every time Brixton is mentioned in the press.
 

editor

hiraethified
You mentioned the "stigma habitually glued to the area" in your opening paragraph. That's the sort of first-line negative references that I find annoying.
 

boohoo

No.
I'm not writing a piece on the riots? I am wanting to write one on the Brixton Fairies, as I think it will be a really interesting topic to write about. So I would really appreciate if anyone can be of any help.

Thanks
I think it's the use of the word stigma or looking at the negative image that Brixton has.
Brixton is littered with tons of other interesting histories - whether to do with shopping(Electric Avenue's street lighting and Bon Marche) or the squat scene (From Brixton Fairies to Cooltan - read some Martin Millar novels!) or the theatre folk who lived in the area or the arrival of the West Indian Community.... and did I mention murals...:D
 

ddraig

dros ben llestri
it is not rude at all!

by mentioning the 'stigma', you are drawing peoples attention to it when there is no need.
what stigma btw?
 

Mrs Magpie

On a bit of break...
I don't think he's being rude. I think you're being precious and over-sensitive though...oh the touchiness of youth who think they know everything and get all snippy when someone doesn't totally lap up their every utterance.....
 

boohoo

No.
Would really appreciate if you would stop being so rude, if you read the rest of the post it stated how the magazine was going to
capture the eccentricity, charm, personality, uniqueness and tragedy that Brixton inhibits. I really dont see how this would serve to perpetuate the stigma. Also it's not an essay I am writing. And for the record, I live in Brixton too...I will look elsewhere for my information since you seem so unwilling to be of any help whatsoever.
I think it's quite hard when people look at Brixton not to mention the riots because if there wasn't riots here, you might as well write about anywhere (if that makes sense). It's the wanting to say Brixton's alright even if they did riot 30 years ago. Look Brixton has culture and other stuff. It would be nice to ignore the riots and write about Brixton's heritage without it all revolving around the riots or crimes, past or current or problems that have arisen or were there before the riots. However, many would say to ignore it, is missing out something that impacts the area and makes it what it is.
 

editor

hiraethified
Would really appreciate if you would stop being so rude, if you read the rest of the post it stated how the magazine was going to
capture the eccentricity, charm, personality, uniqueness and tragedy that Brixton inhibits. I really dont see how this would serve to perpetuate the stigma. Also it's not an essay I am writing. And for the record, I live in Brixton too...I will look elsewhere for my information since you seem so unwilling to be of any help whatsoever.
If you were actually listening you'd realise that I've been very helpful indeed. I'm helping you to avoid writing really dull, negative clichés about your subject matter.
 

Mrs Magpie

On a bit of break...
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.

Thanks
Kiki
Actually you didn't read his post properly. He didn't say that at all. Read it again.
 

ddraig

dros ben llestri
indeed, "why can't everyone be as excited and vibrant!!!!"
e2a - to Mrs M post 131
kk - if you were the editor or moderator, would you appreciate someone joining up to get help with their homework/project? and then calling them rude when they point out some advice after reading your rationale?
 

Mrs Magpie

On a bit of break...
I never said anything about Riots, you assumed? I never said i was going to write about anything negative so you again assumed I was going to write about cliches, all I stated as one of my features was The Brixton Fairies....the aim of the magazine is for it to be a celebration of Brixton. So it seems you misread what I had written and quickly became defensive.
Well, you completely misread ats's post. So pot, kettle, sooty arse
 
thread bump

noticed in tame out that there's a screening of the film at the cinema museum (kennington / elephant-ish) this Sunday (19.10.14)

free, but pre-booking required

more here
 

editor

hiraethified

RoseGibbs

New Member
yes the history of :
faerie land in brixton in the 70 and beyonds needs recording - including
Tom Robinson singing at Gay Dances at the Town Hall
The squatted gay cente in Railton Road
Pearls gay shabeen also on Railton Road
The gay community sqauts on railton and Mayall Raod - and what has become of them
The blasphemers ball at Lambeth Town hall - raising funds for the campaign against the prosection of Gay Times - and the fact that the campaign was run from Brixton
Gay Noise - a radical late 70s freesheet produced in Brixton
The anto Nazi march through brixton and the strong gay presence on it - and the pink and blue demim banner strung across railton road with a queen (or two or three) doing a royal wave past - in full drag- from the houses on railton road
There is a huge wealth of material out I am sure there for anyone who wants to write this history up ...but scattered to the far cormers i am sure
The only other history of early gay Liberation is 'No Bath but plenty of bubbles' an oral history of the Gay Liberation Front 1970-1973 by Lisa Power . This is no longer in print but easily avaialable on Amazon etc
My name is Julian Hows and I was a member of the early Gay Liberation Front , Brixton Faeries and lived in the squats and still live in the railton road area. Would love to hear from anyone who is still alive and remembers and was involved in these times ...especially with pictures, posters etc

Dera Julian, I am currently doing some research on the Gay Liberation Front and am interested in the community activities and street theatre actions that were part of the gay liberation movement. I would love to have the chance to speak with you, if you had the time. Or in fact as well, if you were able to put me in touch with other people who were involved, that would be fantastic. I look forward to hearing from you. with best wishes Rose
 

RoseGibbs

New Member
Dear Tom,

I am currently doing some research on the Gay Liberation Front in London and would love to know more about your experiences in it? I wondered if it might be possible for me to speak with you some how.

I look forward to hearing from you

best Rose



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?
 

RoseGibbs

New Member
Goodbye to London and Railton Road

I visited the exhibition in Berlin on 'Goodbye to London' and met Astrid Proll, Peter Cross and Boris von Brauchnitz, the joint curators. The book is based on this exhibition and deals with squatting, feminist and socialist art collectives, Grunwick and a lot of information on Brixton Gays which I supplied to the Hall-Carpenter Archive for use. It's an excellent exhibition and hopefully, after a trip to Dresden, it will come to London. I think there are plans to do this.

I never was involved in the Mens Group in Brixton but I do remember Gary de Vere, Colm Clifford and Alistair Kerr attending it. All three unfortunately died of the AIDS virus. I think it might have been Icebreakers, a radical gay counselling group, that was in the room above the Peoples' News Service at 119 Railton Road. It may also have housed Gay Switchboard.

Aaah...the memories

Ian Townson

Dear Ian, I am currently doing some research into the gay liberation movement of the 70s, and am specifically interested in the use of street theatre. I would love to come and talk with you about your involvement with the Brixton Faeries. I am sure you must be very busy, but it would be great to hear about it. If you have other suggestions of people who were involved and would be keen to share the history with me I would be very grateful. I look forward to hearing from you. With best wishes Rose
 

CH1

"Red Guard"(NLYL)
I don't know the year at the moment I will check later. also yes as far as I am aware that is railton road
Gramsci

I would have thought this was 1970s or early 1980s - but difficult to be sure. The van seems really antique. Things in Railton Road have changed a lot physically due to riot damage clearance, shop fronts being removed for flat conversions and other things.

I think it possible that the scene is outside 151 Railton Road, one of a number houses in Railton Road that were part of the Brixton Housing Co-op.
151.JPG
The Sitexed building next door in this Google maps shot suggests the change from terraced house with front steps to the new-build health centre. I'm not totally sure though as I cannot see any decorative balls (finials) in the original picture (one of the fairies is standing in front).

In any event in case anyone is interested Mr Ian Towson a local historian with a particular interest and expertise in Queer Brixton will be doing a walk covering the area. This will be on April 23rd at 12.45 pm (the Queen's birthday?). I have attached his flyer, saved down as a pdf - there are some interesting historical pictures.

As a taster here is Ian Townson's picture of the 121 Anarchist Collective After (eviction) party, which he dates to 1999.
121 Anarchist centre final party and eviction-1999.jpg
 

Attachments

Dominic Bilton

New Member
Hello!

I'm doing a project for University about Pearl Alcocks Shabeen and the memories of people that went into it!

Reading the stories and the history of queer Brixton in the 70's, I feel like i really missed out on something really amazing both socially in the squats and politically in the activism.

I don't know much about Pearl, or even have a picture of the Shabeen or her as a person, so if anyone does and would like to share with me, I would be really really grateful:) I would love to hear your stories of going down there!

My email is:

dominic.bilton@manchester.ac.uk or if you want to share with me here, I would be really grateful.

Dominic
 

friendofdorothy

Solidarity against neoliberalism!
Hello!

I'm doing a project for University about Pearl Alcocks Shabeen and the memories of people that went into it!

Reading the stories and the history of queer Brixton in the 70's, I feel like i really missed out on something really amazing both socially in the squats and politically in the activism.

I don't know much about Pearl, or even have a picture of the Shabeen or her as a person, so if anyone does and would like to share with me, I would be really really grateful:) I would love to hear your stories of going down there!

My email is:

dominic.bilton@manchester.ac.uk or if you want to share with me here, I would be really grateful.

Dominic
share with us what you know. How have you heard about Pearls Shabeen?

Ian Townson pointed it out on his tour and regaled us with a few good tales about Pearl.
 
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