Queer Spaces: London, 1980s – Today

  • The Scarecity Of Liberty #2 (detail 2)_webcrop

    Hannah Quinlan & Rosie Hastings, The Scarcity of Liberty #2 , 2016. Cork board mounted on wooden frame, magazine pages, pins. Courtesy the artists and Arcadia Missa

Past Exhibition

This exhibition was on 2 Apr – 25 Aug 2019

Queer Spaces: London, 1980s – Today

2 April – 25 August 2019

‘…if a key value of queer venues has been to provide a safe space in which to organise and gather information, then it seems that the Whitechapel Gallery will become, if only for a few months, London’s newest queer space.’ The Art Newspaper

‘A wonderful celebration of queer culture’ Queer Guru

‘The exhibition comes at a time of crisis for LGBT venues.’ The Guardian

Vigils with drag artists and musicians, meticulously researched heritage listing applications, a tongue-in-cheek ‘funeral’ for much loved nightlife spot – these are some recent activist tactics employed to resist market-led redevelopment of LGBTQ+ spaces in London.

In the 1980s, campaigning groups and social spaces proliferated alongside a growing LGBTQ+ rights movement. But are London’s queer spaces ­–whether bars, community centres, cabarets or cruising areas – now under threat?

This display focuses on the rarely seen archives of LGBTQ+ venues and social networks collated by University College London’s Urban Laboratory, who also contribute an interactive map charting the appearance and disappearance of spaces over the last 30 years.

Among the featured case studies are the London Lesbian and Gay Centre and Black Lesbian and Gay Centre, both running in the 1980s and ‘90s; Glass Bar (1995–2008), a space in Euston for anyone identifying as a woman; and venues such as The Joiners Arms, The Black Cap and The Royal Vauxhall Tavern that are the subject of current campaigns against redevelopment. Together, they reveal the radical inventiveness and creativity of London’s LGBTQ+ communities since the 1980s.

At the same time artists Tom Burr (b. 1963, USA), Ralph Dunn (b. 1969, UK), Evan Ifekoya (b. 1988, Nigeria), Hannah Quinlan & Rosie Hastings (both b. 1991, UK), Prem Sahib (b. 1982, UK) and others give their perspectives on 21st century cityscapes of sociability and self-expression.


Related events

N83 BBZ 30

Queer Activisms: Communities, Networks, Empowerment

Sat 11 May, 11.30am – 5pm
£9.50/£7.50 concs

How do queer spaces build communities? A day of workshops, panel discussions and screenings with queer collective and club promoters BBZ, filmmaker Veronica McKenzie, DJ Ritu and more.

Book now

Find out more

Read the press release

The Whitechapel Gallery Archive Exhibitions are generously supported by Catherine Petitgas.

Support Sponsor:

A club night will be hosted in parallel with the exhibition in collaboration with Miranda at Ace Hotel London, who have made discounted rooms available for Whitechapel Gallery audiences.

With additional support from the Queer Spaces Exhibition Circle:

Darryl de Prez and Victoria Thomas

Marcelle Joseph

Russell Tovey

and those who wish to remain anonymous