Queer Museum Protest comes to Dalston

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LGBTQ+ activists are calling for the story of London’s queer community to be given a permanent home in its own dedicated museum. They brought their protest to the Kingsland Road, placing a pink filing cabinet outside LGBTQ+ nightclub Dalston Superstore.

Dan Glass and other activists from ‘Queer Tours of London’, a group that promotes queer culture,  placed cabinets in ten sites around London which were of particular importance to LGBTQ+ culture. Dan said, “We want them to say very clearly: why is our history in filing cabinets gathering dust?”

The activists have chosen to launch their campaign as we enter 2015, because it will be the fiftieth anniversary of the partial decriminalization of homosexuality, in the Sexual Offences Act 1967. They’re calling for this landmark year to be commemorated with a queer museum, because, Dan said, “We need to be able to tell our history, about why and how we got here.”

Human rights activist and artist Eliza Goroya told the Hackney Post that queer nightlife and queer activism have always been inextricable. In her words, “Queers have long danced their way to revolution. Coming together against all odds- dancing in defiance- is part of our collective history, and is now our legacy.”

“For example, look at ‘Voguing’ [an elaborate dance form which started in underground queer clubs in 1980s New York, inspired by the Madonna hit, Vogue.]” She continued. “It’s essentially a form of dancing as an act of resistance led by queer people of colour, be it at the Ballroom scene in New York, or the one booming now in London.”

However, there is another layer of symbolic significance to the Dalston Superstore site. In recent years, some of London’s most iconic queer venues have been closed, from Soho to Hackney: The Joiners’ Arms, Madame Jojo’s, The Black Cap, and many more.

The activists chose the Kingsland Road site to draw attention to this erasure of LGBTQ+ nightlife, because, Eliza commented, the Superstore is “purveying queer life at a time where more and more queer spaces are being forced to close down due to gentrification.”

Emma Kroeger, Marketings and Bookings Co-ordinator at Dalston Superstore, said, “We are passionate about the club as a cultural space. The campaign for an LGBT museum in London is incredibly close to our heart – as a city so rich in queer history it would be incredible for our political, social and cultural past to be acknowledged and recognised in a tangible way.”

Photo credit: Mike Wear