The South London Gallery’s online map shares places of interest in our local area. It covers many interesting social histories, people, buildings, cultural organisations and public artworks. Most of the places marked on the map were submitted by people who live in south east London.
To celebrate Pride Month, we are highlighting some of the fascinating, past and present queer-owned and queer-friendly organisations on the map. Some of these organisations are still active, such as the Feminist Library and Corner café, New Cross, so make sure that you visit them next time you are in south London!
The Black Lesbian and Gay Centre
The Black Lesbian and Gay Centre opened in south London in the early 1980s, at a time when Black lesbian and gay groups started to emerge in Britain. From 1982, the Greater London Council funded the centre, at the time they had progressive views which supported the funding of underrepresented groups. However, the council was abolished in 1986, so the centre had to rely more on self-generated income. After many years of fundraising through donations and membership, the BLGC opened a permanent centre in Peckham. The centre was open until the mid-1990s.
Organisations like the Black Lesbian and Gay Centre supported people of colour through mental health and community building. The Black Lesbian and Gay Centre also created a magazine called ‘Blackout’ for its communities, which can be found in the London School of Economics Library.
Southwark Women’s Centre
The Southwark Women’s Centre used to be located on Peckham’s high street. As a support centre for women, it was also home to other queer women’s groups like the Southwark ‘Sappho Sisters’. The Southwark Sappho Sisters created drop-in sessions, events and newsletters addressing issues around lesbian rights and racism across London. A newsletter made by ‘Sappho Sisters’ from 1993-1994, advertising a trip to the coast in Hastings, is housed in the Southwark Archives. The organisation also hosted women’s only nights at local pubs. One of their nights was called Little Frida’s, named after artist Frida Kahlo and hosted at the East Dulwich Tavern at Lordship Lane.
Southwark Queerstory exhibition, Peckham Levels
In 2018, the Southwark LGBTQ+ Network curated an exhibition with Southwark Archives at Peckham Levels called the ‘Southwark Queerstory Exhibition’. The exhibition explored local and forgotten queer stories. The exhibition also looked at local groups like the ‘Southwark Sappho Sisters’, ‘Black Gay & Lesbian Centre’, ‘Peckham Black Women’s Centre Lesbians’ and ‘Gay Men in Southwark’, all of which are also included on the SLG’s interactive map. After the exhibition was displayed at Peckham Levels, it was temporarily moved to Southwark Archives in July 2018 to celebrate Pride month.
Corner, New Cross
Corner is an LGBTQ+ led business in south east London. It is both a coffee shop and a creative space. The space is curated by local architect Tarek Merlin and managed by his partner Mark Barter. The gallery , ThisisArchitectureThisisArt, is in the basement of the building.. The space showcases the founders’ favourite artists, as well as up and coming artists from the local area of New Cross.
Awall mural can also be seen outside the Corner cafe. The mural is a collaboration between Corner and local queer artist collective 34Bus, a Community Interest Company (CIC), made up of graduate artists from The London School of Muralism (LSoM), with the support of Artmongers (CIC), as well as a creative collaboration with photographer Stuart Alexander Carruthers.
Funding for the mural was obtained via crowdfunding, with donations from the local community and the wider creative industries, as well as a grant from Lewisham council.
The Feminist Library
The Feminist Library is a large collection of feminist literature based in Peckham, London. They are a library, bookshop and community space and support research, activist and community projects. The organisation was originally known as the Woman’s Research and Resources Centre, before the Feminist Library was set up in 1975 during the Women’s Liberation Movement.
As a queer-friendly organisation, they celebrate queer-related activism and intersectional feminism on a global scale and hold many events and exhibitions which are also queer-related.