Monday, November 05, 2012

DIY activism in practice

On London's Pride march

By Anton Johnson

Two weeks ago the London Queer Social Centre was opened in a disused building in Kennington, south London by a group of young LGBTQ activists called House of Brag. These activists recognised that there is no social space LGBTQ people can now go outside the commercial scene venues, which are orientated to drugs and exclude many LGBTQ people in these days of austerity simply by the high admission charge.
            These activists took over the building, which had been empty for some years, and was the old Southwark TUC Resource Centre that hosted a national LGBT conference in 1993 organised by the National Lesbian & Gay Rights Coalition. London has not had a safe non-commercial social centre for all LGBTQ people to go to since the closure of the London Lesbian & Gay Centre in 1992; so this initiative is welcome.
            The House of Brag seek to make a safe space for LGBTQ people to go, discuss, watch films and have a political dialogue. The opening comes straight after the successful Alliance of Queers Against Boredom event with a speaker from USA on the Queer involvement in Occupy Oakland. These activists want to engage with all LGBTQ groups and the local community where the building is situated in south London and they have shown the way forward for trade union activists by
creating a space from nothing but their skills and resourcefulness.
At their opening event, which was a whole day attracting hundreds of people they offered a stall space to Greater London Association of Trades Union Councils to promote the TUC 20th  October demonstration and participated in the Pink Black bloc on the day itself.
            As part of the drive to build links with the broader movement two people from the London Queer Social Centre gave a presentation on Monday evening to Lambeth Trades Union Council, explaining the role of the Centre and touching on issues such as young LGBTQ homelessness to local trade unionists. This was an excellent example of grassroots community activism and local rank & file union activists coming together in the fight against austerity.

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