The Royal Vauxhall Tavern in London. Photograph: Rob Holley, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Saving London's Queer Spaces

By Beau
Beau is the founder of Apollo Social. He recently relocated to Melbourne with his husband and has begun a love affair with the city.
Londonners are saving queer spaces by raising awareness of their value and lobbying government to protect them from developers

The Guardian reports on a phenomenon affecting every city around the world - the gentrification and re-development of gay neighbourhoods; leaving a void of queer culture in its wake.

Perhaps nowhere is this sadder than in London, a city long-renowned for its gay nightlife. Many of its venues have been meccas that young gaylings around the world hear about through popular culture and make the trek once they have the resources and ability. Between 2006 and 2017 the number of LGBT clubs, bars and performance spaces in London dropped from 121 to 51.

Motivated Londonners are fighting the trend by raising awareness of the value of queer spaces and lobbying government to force developers to retain them. 

Queer Spaces is an exhibit honouring 10 venues, either already lost or struggling to survive, and tells their stories through posters, visitor books, interviews and oral histories. For example, Sahib memorializes Chariots gay sauna in Shoreditch, which closed in 2016; describing the important community space it provided by bringing together men of different ages and backgrounds that may not have associated with each other outside of the sauna. A function hard to replicate on social media and hookup apps.

There has been some success so far. After pressure from the community, the Royal Vauxhall Tarven was listed, Grade II and government ordered the developers of the Joiners Arms site to create an LGBT pub with the same opening hours.

Lets hope other cities can similarly raise awareness of their queer spaces and save them from the wrecking ball.