Lotte Jeffs wrote in London Evening Standard about why London’s LGBTQ community need a place they can call home.
When I was a teenager, I’d get the 14 bus into Soho with a couple of the other gay kids in my school. We’d walk up down Old Compton Street feeling the thrill of eye contact and friendly smiles from older gays who knew this small crew of curious 16-year-olds were desperate to feel part of “the scene”.
The bars were too intimidating but we found a café called First Out by Centre Point, full of people of all ages chatting, and it became the centre of our social life. It was the first gay space where we felt safe and welcomed, compared with, say, legendary lesbian hangout Candy Bar, which at that time made you sign a guest book with your name and address to get in.
First Out was bulldozed in the Crossrail development. There are council-run LGBTQ Youth Groups across the capital and young people today are finding community online but it’s a travesty that there is no dedicated LGBTQ centre in London as there is in New York, LA, Zurich and Berlin — a place that isn’t a bar or club, where people young and old can meet and be themselves.
I was pleased to hear last week that a campaign to open just such a space in east London is now well under way, supported by Diane Abbott, Sadiq Khan and Jeremy Corbyn.
The team of volunteers behind the centre have launched a crowd-funder to raise money for the next stage of developing what will be a completely accessible multi-purpose space, open from morning until night for individuals and campaigning groups. It will serve as a café, meeting point, workspace and social centre and have facilities for performance and exhibitions.
First Out was the last truly inclusive and diverse gay venue in London, where old and young, gay men and lesbians, trans, cis, butch and femme of all races hung out together. We need The East London LGBTQ Centre now more than ever. You can help make it happen by donating here: crowdfunder.co.uk/londonlgbtqcentre
Read the full article in London Evening Standard here.