Look at this powerful image of Britain’s first ever Valentine’s Day public ‘kiss-in’ on the steps of the Eros statue, Piccadilly Circus.
Back in 2015 it launched the campaign for the freedom to kiss in public, with the statistic (from research conducted by Pride in London) that over half of Londoners in LGBTQ relationships would not feel comfortable doing so. In addition to the protest, #FreedomTo kiss selfies were broadcast on Piccadilly Circus billboards.
Despite increasing acceptance in many quarters, seven years on many couples still feel similarly fearful in 2022 of being subjected to homophobic abuse for showing affection in a public place.
LGBTQ History Month, which runs throughout February, is a chance to take stock of what’s happened in the past – both recent and distant – as well as look to the future. Once again, independent NW1 charity forum+ is behind an impressively full calendar across Camden and Islington.
The theme this year is Politics In Art: The Arc Is Long. “It provides an opportunity to commemorate the many achievements of LGBTQ activists and artists,” says organiser Tess Havers-Strong. “Our History Month is not just a celebration but also an important opportunity to champion inclusion and equality for local LGBTQ people.”
From book clubs and film screenings to zine-making, queer trails and the landmark Loudest Whispers exhibition, let’s make February a month brimming with hope. Speaking of which, don’t forget the new Queer Britain museum opens soon in King’s Cross, too (read about it here).
LGBTQ History Month 2022: Ten Highlights
Loudest Whispers exhibition launch (runs all month), Friday 4th February, 5.30-8.30pm
At Old Diorama Arts Centre, this exhibition celebrates the power of the creative LGBTQ Community, including work from 34 artists linked to an open category and the theme of Politics in Art. Old Diorama Arts Centre, Regent’s Place, 201 Drummond Street, Triton Square, London NW1 3FE, Desire, love, identity: LGBTQ histories trail, throughout February 2022 10am -5pm
This 15-object trail looks at objects that have a connection with LGBTQ history. You should be able to complete it in 60–75 minutes, with the items arranged to create an efficient route. However, you don’t need to follow this order. There’s also a three-object trail – ideal if you only have 30 minutes to spare. Free with general museum entry. Booking via: www.britishmuseum.org/visit Gay’s The Word, Throughout February 2022
The iconic Camden bookshop has been at the heart of the capital’s LGBTQ rights’ movement since opening on 17th January 1979. It’s been the meeting place of pioneering activist collectives like The Gay Black Group, Lesbians and Gays Support The Miners and, more recently, TransLondon. Every Wednesday at 8.15 pm is the Lesbian Discussion Group, which has been going for almost 40 years to provide community to women from inside and outside of London. Gay’s The Word, 66 Marchmont Street, London Islington’s Pride Heritage Trail, Throughout February 2022
Journey through the Islington’s Pride Heritage Trail and enjoy visiting over 150 points of LGBTQ interest, including bars, community organisations and locations of celebration and infamy. Visit the website and learn the entries, incorporated images and oral histories linked to the physical plaques across Islington: check out the map here.
The Log Books Live: The Complete History of Switchboard, Tuesday 8th February 6.30-8.30pm
The creators of this hit podcast present a complete overview of Switchboard, from its inception in the 1970s through to today. This live event will feature readings from the archive at Switchboard – the LGBTQ Helpline, with people talking about their experiences living through the 70s, 80s, 90s and early 00s. Expect laughter, tears – and maximum queer power. Finsbury Library, 245 St John St, London EC1V 4NB First Time, Wednesday 9th – 12th February and Sunday 13th February
Can you remember your first time? Nathaniel can’t seem to forget his. To be fair, he’s had it playing on repeat for the last 15 years. Now the party is over, the balloons have all burst and he’s left living his best queer life… Or is he? Award-winning HIV+ theatre-maker Nathaniel Hall (It’s a Sin) and Dibby Theatre present their critically acclaimed autobiographical show about growing up positive in a negative world. Tickets £18/ £16 concession, Pleasance Theatre Carpenters Mews, North Road, London N7 9EF Housmans Queer Book Club, Thursday 10th February 7-8.30 pm
On Thursday 10th February visit the iconic radical bookshop and join a discussion on Pink Lemonade by Mika Onyx Johnson. Housmans Queer Book Club reads a wide range of fiction and non-fiction, meeting every 2nd Thursday of the month from 7 – 8.30 pm. All genders are welcome, as are any snacks, drinks and book suggestions you can bring along too. Housmans Bookshop, 5 Caledonian Rd, London N1 9DX KTCC Film Club – Rocketman. Thursday 17th February 12pm
The KTCC film club has programmed a series of films celebrating LGBTQ icons. On Thursday 17th join a very special screening of Rocketman, the epic musical fantasy about the incredible human story of Elton John’s breakthrough years. The KTCC film project forms part of the Kentish Town Arts Club, is free to join and open to all. For more information on how to join the KTCC film screenings please email: email@example.com, Kentish Town Community Centre, 17 Busby Place, London NW5 2SP Lesbian Cabaret with DD, Friday 18th February 6 pm doors. Show 7-9.30pm A solo show by DD Cabaret aka Double D at the new Zodiac Bar on Hampstead Road. She takes on the world of lesbian dating in her one-woman show which includes songs, anecdotes and a game or two. Inspiration from the Jazz age and old Hollywood Double D will swing you into her world of ups and downs as a lesbian, all whilst embodying a touch of Marlene Dietrich and Liza Minnelli. Tickets here. Telling Our Stories, Thursday 24th February 1–2 pm
Opening Doors London presents a storytelling session where older queer people share their lived experiences. Listen to experiences and stories from their lives shedding insight into the what it was like growing up as LGBTQ in the 1950s, 60s, 70s and 80s. For more information please email firstname.lastname@example.org
For the complete programme of events head to the website here. Main photo credit: Pride In London
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