Category Archives: Blog

2am Assembly for Pulse, La Madame, and the Admiral Duncan, post-Pride

In the wee small hours of the morning of Sunday 26 June, at 2am, a contingent of activists from ACT UP London, Queer Strike, and No Pride in War gathered at Piccadilly Circus to perform an action in remembrance of victims of weapons violence at Pulse nightclub (Orlando), La Madame night club (Veracruz) and the Admiral Duncan pub (London). Respectively, 2 weeks, 1 month and 17 years ago, these atrocities bring home to us that violence against LGBTQIA+ people is increasing, and sometimes going unreported. There appears to be an intensified idea that people can plan to kill ‘others’ with weapons they create or gain easy access to. Also, there is a strange reframing of how our governments justify attacks on other nations. Some people might think I just made a mad leap there. But think about this: BAE systems (UK) will sell arms to Saudi Arabia to bomb Yemen; BAE systems manufactured the Red Arrows that flew over Pride in London, in what the RAF refer to as part of a recruitment drive. These Red Arrow models are combat jets that are used by Saudi to bomb civilians. How can it possibly be ok to allow LGBTQIA+ to be the justification of a recruitment drive for murders and increased military presence on our Pride event, especially in the wake of Orlando and Veracruz? What we understand of ‘security’ and ‘protection’ must be placed under scrutiny.

We can’t unpack the minds of the people who shot and bombed groups of LGBTQIA+ at places queer family believed to be safe, queer spaces. But we do know that intolerance played a key role in many aspects around these murders: ostracising, self-hate, killing, silencing, hiding, reporting, news broadcasting, and so on.

In Orlando, two weeks ago at 9pm (2am in London), young folks were preening themselves, making phone calls to friends, planning what to wear and how to travel to Pulse nightclub for an evening of fun with mates, regular punters and strangers. Hours later, their names formed a growing list of fatalities in a shocking event, ‘the worst mass shooting in recent US history’. In the wake of feverish international reports on the massacre, a crack in the cloak of silence that hid the Mexico mass shooting at La Madame nightclub began to open, but it left us wondering whether this was a national cover up, or a story overlooked.

So we met at 2am, the morning after Pride, and we read text on a cycle for 30 minutes, as a group. Strangers stopped to watch and some joined in at random, dunk or sober. We handed out information that explained how we, as participants, are committed to working towards a better understanding across our communities and to strengthen our campaign tactics for an end to violence against all people. We feel it is vital to publicly engage with people and make space available for them to easily connect on these issues.

As Mexico’s first openly gay mayor, Benjamin Medrano, stated in response to the Veracruz shootings, “If we were more educated, we would be less violent; the problem begins when we disrespect our fellow men“ (I’m sure he meant people of all genders).

LGBTQIA+ lives matter. All lives matter.

2am reading:
No pride in homophobia.
Solidarity is survival.
No pride in racism.
Immigration is valuable.
No pride in war.
Art is a weapon.
No pride in corporate greed.
Individual stories matter.
No pride in borders.
We can be friends.
No pride in detention centres.
We have heart.
No pride in transphobia.
History involves everyone.
No pride in arms dealing
We can be more evolved.
No Pride in bombing Syria.
Humanity’s ancient civilization.
No pride in easy arms access.
We must not be collateral damage.
No pride in silence.
Pulse family are in our words.
No pride in blaming lone wolves.
When society is complicit.
No pride in blaming minorities.
They build healthy societies.
No pride in forgetting.
Admiral Duncan still hurts.
No pride in colonial legacy.
Ignorance doesn’t make it alright.
No pride in hiding La Madame.
Truth will surface.

2am Assembly for Pulse, La Madame, and Admiral Duncan

2am Assembly for Pulse, La Madame, and Admiral Duncan


2am Assembly, post-Pride against weapons and war in the name of LGBTQIA+

2am Assembly, post-Pride against weapons and war in the name of LGBTQIA+


In the Name of David Kato

In the Name of David Kato

With urgency, we must come together as international human rights allies, to continue to make positive change happen. This was the collective message repeated by activists and human rights champions at ‘Silence = 40’, a panel event organised by ACT UP London and hosted at the Royal Vauxhall Tavern on 5 February. In memory of the ground-breaking work of Ugandan LGBTQIA+ and HIV/AIDS activist, David Kato, members of the LGBTQIA+ community and from various commonwealth nation diasporas, joined in commemorating Kato’s life in the fifth year since his murder.

Kato’s activist legacy and the reality of his absence wrought measurable impact. Our loss of him is a tragedy for the activism he would surely have instigated, as well as being a point of uprising amongst freedom fighters who challenge injustice in his name. He was murdered for being queer; his surviving family, endangered. As Edwin Sesange of Out & Proud Diamond Group (OPDG) stated “The fight claimed his life”.

What have we learnt in David’s absence? Sesange described how OPDG was launched in 2011, driven by refugees and asylum seekers, adamant at speaking out for themselves, instead of being spoken to or about as vulnerable people – a strength perpetuated by Kato’s example. Julius Mutumba of Movement for Justice echoed this sentiment by stating, “We came out in this country (UK). If you come out at home, it is to be killed…but, no one will fight for us unless we fight for ourselves”. The Movement for Justice-led ‘Surround Yarl’s Wood’ campaign, to shut down UK detention centres, has gained excellent momentum, as evidenced in growing public support to confront immigration detention policies. The movement is a contributing factor to the very existence of the recently published and highly damning Shaw Review.

Persecution of loved ones who have not migrated is another grave concern, as intimidation methods and alienation are typically transferred to family members and associates. Recently, OPDG fundraised to give financial support to Kato’s mother, who had been rendered destitute and without food, as there has been no mechanism to provide for her. Sesange highlighted the irony of being able to provide a cash award in Kato’s name, to outstanding activists, yet not to the ruined lives of a family left without their activist breadwinner.

The David Kato Vision and Voice Award serves to speak out in direct response to the injustice of David’s murder and to recognise the brilliant LGBTQIA+ human rights work and leadership achieved by individuals. Kaleidoscope Trust’s Felicity Daly announced that the next recipient would be awarded in 2018, which is also the year of the next Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), here in the UK. This will be a critical moment for all LGBTQIA+ human rights groups to lobby toward. Daly stated “We need a positive dialogue across the member states”.

Challenging the Imperialist Legacy

We have arrived at a time of multiple, unquantifiable human catastrophes. There is enough accumulated perspective, to at least state that. But the scale of crises is so great, it is presently impossible to calculate the various atrocities and range of suffering. How can we begin to force political solutions in such an ideologically fraught climate, where common ground between historic rivals is now realised in a place where loathing of LGBTQIA+ people can be shared?

We know not, how many people are infected or dying of HIV/AIDS, and from prejudice-incited murder and oppression. Nigerian LGBTQIA+ activist, Aderonke Apata, is currently campaigning to repeal Nigeria’s anti-gay law. On the topic of HIV/ AIDS transmission, diagnosis and treatment, Apata stressed, “There are no accurate statistics, due to social, legal, and cultural barriers (stigma, discrimination, sexual status and gender inequality). Nonetheless, we have access to stats from UNAIDS: in 2013 nearly 25 million people were living with HIV/AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa – that’s 71% of the global total. 1.5 million new infections were recorded. There were 1.1 million AIDS related deaths and 39% of adults were on antiretroviral treatment. Data on men who have sex with men (MSM) is extremely limited.”

Despite epidemic and pandemic scales, our commonwealth governments are far from reaching a collective agreement to end the suffering, marginalisation and the criminalisation of LGBTQIA+ communities. History offers some clarification though: we are all inextricably linked and complicit in the fates of one another’s nations. Homosexuality is a criminal offence in 40 Commonwealth nations, because Britain dictated these terms in the era of colonial take-over. From a post-colonial standpoint, the United Kingdom is now obligated with an enormous responsibility to affect a process that definitively addresses the legacy of UK-imposed imperialism on oppressive Commonwealth countries.

UK-based, Jamaican activist and writer, Vernal Scott, firmly stated his disdain in regard to the inhumane treatment LGBTQIA+ persons receive in Jamaica, exclaiming that the country’s “willingness to continue to embrace colonial discrimination is a disgrace”. To us all, he challenged we must each write to our MPs and insist that oppressive, imperialist views are abolished. “We need to be the driver in the car for change”, added Scott.

Whose God?

Homosexuality is not an export of the West, as many African nation right-wing leaders will promote. But evangelical Christian religion is. The vestiges of British, Victorian-era sodomy laws are apparent in the preaching and demonisation of LGBTQIA+ lifestyles by evangelist religious leaders. We heard from African and Caribbean speakers that terrible acts of violence are commonplace, as African citizens and vigil-ante groups are empowered to ‘out’, persecute, lynch or cure through rape, suspected queer people and their affiliates. This is the reality of imperial legacy. This is hate crime, allowed to happen in the global blind spot of our denial. As global citizens, we must challenge these injustices; these crimes against humanity.

A year before his death, ahead of several parliamentary stages for Uganda’s revised, Anti-homosexuality Bill, Kato explained in an interview with Brussels-based Start to Wish: “My argument is, why should Uganda follow the theology of Muslims and Christians to set up laws rather than looking at the scientific, or the reality of issues… what I want the world to see is the hate behind the bill…will Uganda be able to understand the faith-based hate behind the bill? Genocide might come up; we are going to die. Should we wait for that?”. Pressure on President Museveni, from the international community, eventually led to the Bill being annulled. But draconian legislation still exists to punish LGBTQIA+ with imprisonment under the broad definition of what is deemed to be ‘exhibitionism’. The international community had some positive impact here. This fact should serve to fuel collective pressure to fight homophobic persecution. It is nigh-on impossible to engage with people on HIV infection, AIDS, and treatments when people live under stigma and in fear.

Making positive change happen

What are the collective challenges from our activist panel and how are they leading by example? All representatives urged that foreign aid to Africa must not cease. Dani Singer, an activist for ACT UP London, announced a UK-based campaign of Fight AIDS not Migrants involving a series of public actions as well as the commencement of outreach to those who live in the Calais Jungle, where proper HIV assistance is not yet in place. LGSMigrants and Movement for Justice have teamed to launch the first ever Peckham Community Pride on 20 February this year. It promises to be a strongly political event, firmly rooted in social engagement and exploring the intersecting issues for migrants, people threatened by deportation, and LGBTQIA+.

Paul Dillane of UK Lesbian & Gay Immigration Group (UKLGIG) insisted. “We all need to see a British Prime Minister acknowledge the colonial legacy and its impact on LGBTI people, promote the human rights of LGBTI people, and for the UK Government to provide actual support to LGBTI communities, NGOs and activists. A white Prime Minister cannot succeed alone in achieving decriminalisation. Those who are at the frontline deserve our solidarity and support.”

D. Riddington (8 February, 2016)



The UK Lesbian & Gay Immigration Group (UKLGIG) is a charity that promotes equality and dignity for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex (LGBTI) people who seek asylum in the UK, or who wish to immigrate to the UK, to be with their same-sex partner.

Lesbian and Gays Support the Migrants (LGSM) is a movement to creatively challenge the right-wing media narrative around migrants and to stand in solidarity with migrants entering the UK.

The Kaleidoscope Trust works to uphold the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people internationally.  Kaleidoscope believe that the rights of all people should be respected equally, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

African Rainbow Family provides support for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTIQ) People of African Heritage Please support the African Rainbow Family campaign at Repeal Nigeria Anti Gay Law.

Aderonke Apata is a Human Rights Activist, Feminist and LGBT Equality Advocate. Her acolades include: Winner of the Positive Role Model for LGBT National Diversity Award 2014; Numbers 41 & 67 on the Ranbow List for 2014 ans 2015, respectively. Diva named her Heroine of the Year in 2015  in recognition of her achievements in the LGBT community. Aderonke is the founder of African Rainbow Family, an LGBT group that supports LGBTIQ asylum seekers and people of African heritage in UK and campaigning for the Repeal of the toxic Nigerian Anti-LGBTIQ Law. She also started Manchester Migrant Solidarity, a self help group offering practical supports and building a powerful political voice against the systematic mistreatment of migrants in the UK. Support Aderonke here

Movement for Justice By Any Means Necessary (MfJ) are leaders of the growing movement, protesting to shut down detention centres. They have drawn particular mass-public notice to Yarl’s Wood. MfJ are committed to challenging UK immigration policy, racism, unlawful and inhumane detention and deportation. MfJ are “building an independent, integrated, mass, youth and student led civil rights movement.”

STOPAIDS  is a network of UK agencies in operation since 1986 to secure an effective global response to HIV and AIDS.

Out and Proud Diamond Group (OPDG) fight for global equality, and justice for LGBTI persons through campaigns, peaceful protests/demonstrations, lobbying and seminars. OPDG offer support to those facing persecution and integration for those who have fled persecution.

Peckham Community Pride  20 February 2016

Peckham Community Pride 20 February 2016


Making Art Count

Questioning creative types of varying fields and expertise as to the significance of art in our lives, serves to unpick what has happened and what our futures might be with or without accessible art practices and spaces.

The rate of greedy development across London has killed off many art spaces, fringe clubs, boltholes for local organisations and sites for cultural community activities, so that suburbs are changing way past what could have been deemed ‘comfortable regeneration’. What happens to the artists and makers? What becomes of a scene, when cultural providers disappear (how) do they reappear elsewhere? Finding available, affordable space requires a lot of research and often one has to adopt ways of making and sourcing space outside of conventional methods. For example, HOOS has been involved in activating public art interventions in open, public or ‘disused’ spaces. This also includes co-organising movable, home-based art salons as a result of difficulties in finding affordable spaces for group shows and artist talks. This isn’t anything new, amongst artists, but perhaps it is becoming much more common practice.

Along with artists, small businesses and market traders have been forced to fold and are leaving urban spaces. A vast demographic of niche experts is disappearing and we will not get this back during the next retro-revivalist fad era. The impact of artist evictions from affordable studios in Stockwell, Brixton, Bermondsey and Peckham, as well as the simple fact of being priced out of an area, has resulted in community contacts and pathways to culture being lost. In a recent HOOS interview, John Worthington (Director, Academy of Urbanism) stated, “The death of the artist is one where the Local Authority informs and stipulates the space that creative people have to move into. The successful spaces will be the ones that are artist-driven.”

HOOS is interested in learning from artists and creative people, about what they have done to make significant changes to the way they create and how they live their lives in light of creative space restrictions. Would you be comfortable with being interviewed about your tactics to survive as an artist and/or to provide culture? If you are an artist or some kind of creative, how often do you explain to others, the importance of your work? Maybe you should start to do this. In some small way, it might make a positive difference as to how artists are perceived. What we already know on the issue of judging artists is that this is tied in with whether people see art as a profession: how ‘professional’ or how much money an artist can bring in. When Lucy was interviewed she made the comment “I looked up the word ‘career’ in the dictionary and it states something like, ‘a commitment to something over a sustained time’. That’s my art practice…. I see it as something central to my life that I need to do, and I find it devaluing to say it’s a hobby.”

The majority of artists don’t fit into a corporate business model and nor should they have to try to. Quantifying the ‘return’ on artistic practice is problematic because measuring outcomes requires a leap of faith for buy-in to long-term, future benefits and few developers have the patience and desire to invest this way. But Londoners’ ardent consumption of culture is proven over and again and when we’re not experiencing it through the city’s entertainment, we choose – or hope to – live in areas where cultural riches have become a highly tradable USP, as has been demonstrated in Brixton (and in Shoreditch, Hackney, Bermondsey…). A local Brixton creative, Julie, urged, “Brixton is now such a vibrant, creative area, so support those vibrant, creative people.” On this note, how much is being given back to creative communities by the people who choose to move to these areas, drawn by the idea of what culture can do for a house price?

To date, HOOS interviewees have comprised artists, fashion designers, educators, urbanists, makers and musicians. Through HOOS we have discussed the importance of the presence of art throughout ones education, starting at early childhood; the value of art in peoples’ lives; the dilemma of sourcing space to be creative; long-term versus short-term studio acquisition and alternative spaces; the importance of planning urban areas with art as an integral component; art for mental well-being; art as a vehicle for activism; and more. HOOS will continue to search for solutions for finding space and raising an awareness of the value of artists, while calling into question why access to culture is not a given.

‘Off the Shelf’ at Old Paradise Yard

There are still super cool oases in developing London. Unfortunately, they aren’t starting up – or I am not finding them – at the same alarming rate that my favourite cool and quirky old haunts are folding.

No longer a resident south Londoner, I now experience the area as a regular visitor. Each time, I notice another striking change in the urban landscape as long-standing music and art venues disappear and I measure it all as a series of loses. I’m losing chunks of London references that pieced together how I have known the city for the past 15 years.

Discovering ‘I’klecktik’ at Old Paradise Yard felt like a major gain for my list of places to go. This place really is an oasis in the heart of metropolitan life. My visits so far have involved indoor dining on lovely vegetarian/vegan food, outdoor beers under big old park trees, lounging to live music and looking over some really exciting contemporary art.

On show there at the moment (extended until Tuesday 2 June) is the exhibition ‘Off the Shelf: the Eclectic in the Artist’s Book’. It brings together around 100 artists’ books that are handmade, published, print-on-demand, one-offs, zines, works of art… you name it, individual interpretation has yielded an exhaustive collection, available for slow perusal while soaking up the rich atmosphere of this highly creative environment.

I’klektik’s refreshing vibe is owed to a relaxed and roomy indoor area, good people (Eduard and his crew) with diverse community ties, quality greenspace, creativity and experimentation.

Old Paradise Yard, 20 Carlisle Lane SE1 7LG.

Nearest tube: Lambeth North (5+ minute walk).


Head Out Of Space

April 22, 2015

Parks, Cultural Services and having your say….

Halving Lambeth parks funding from £4.4 million to £2.2 million could signal the reversal of excellent regeneration work. Presently, Lambeth residents and tourists have easy year-round access, free of charge, to truly impressive local landscapes comprised of recreation spaces and serene wildlife areas. I lived for many years in Brixton before recently being squeezed out due to increased rents. I am still tied to the place through various events organising and friendships. I’ve really missed some old haunts, the market and Brixton’s parks. It used to be that I would visit or cycle through Brockwell Park multiple times per week. Exploring the windmill in Windmill Gardens, led to me launching a community engaged art intervention in its grounds, months later. At both parks, I taught my stepson to ride his bicycle, met friends for picnics and soaked up rays with a book. In Kennington Park I filmed a colleague’s performance art work and I played often with family members at Max Roach Park. I’ve visited many others in the borough, but Windmill Gardens is certainly the most unique out of the bunch, as it is the location of the city’s last surviving urban windmill. It stands there as proof of what a truly supported restoration vision can do to change an impoverished and barely visited area, into a successful, well-used destination point for diverse local communities and tourists. This is a place of historic significance, a central point for education programmes, art, performance, and community storytelling and archiving. Along with the windmill, the well-kept green space of Windmill Gardens also includes children’s play areas and a 1 o’clock club.

Late June, the annual Windmill Parade and Festival event will take place, themed to promote and support trade careers and occupations with live music, food and workshops, bringing together people of all ages from the local community and probably windmill enthusiasts from afar. This type of investment in people is absolutely crucial, as is funding investment in the spaces we use for such creative pursuits and how we maintain these areas. It is also highly important that we all voice our individual cases, via public consultations, on the matters of cuts to parks funding, libraries, the arts and all those other areas of our lives that are being affected by reduced services, access to healthcare, culture and fundamental support networks.

Until 11pm on Friday 24 April, we all have the opportunity to give our feedback on the Cultural Services by 2020 document. Follow this link to read through it and answer the questionnaire:


2014-02-11 08.17.07 2014-04-29 19.05.08 2014-04-29 19.13.43 2013-08-04 17.53.15