A crowdfunding campaign has been set up to fund the space run by and for LGBTQ+ people
Yesterday evening (April 18) saw the announcement of the London LGBTQ+ Community Centre, in Hackney Downs, east London. The centre will open as a multi-functional space for exhibitions, performances, and outreach programs, with a cafe, meeting point, workspace, and social centre run by and for LGBT+ people as a non-profit. A crowdfunding campaign has been set up to fund a project seen as vital for east London and beyond.
The centre is described in a statement as somewhere that is “creating an information hub, signposting service for those seeking support to discover the brilliant charities and organisations that specialise in LGBTQ+ specific service provision”. Following in the footsteps of other major cities like Los Angeles, New York, Zurich, and Berlin, who have centres like the one London was formerly lacking.
Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott spoke to an audience at the centre’s opening with huge support for the cause. “I’m here to say how much I support the London LGBTQ+ Community Centre project,” she said. “Anything I can do to help in the future I will do. When I first joined the Labour Party, you couldn’t win a vote on LGBTQ+ rights. I’ve lived to see a Tory Prime Minister take through equal marriage, and that is a testimony to the campaigning and the struggle of the people in this room. But, there is still more to do.”
“I support this project, Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labour Party, has asked me to pass on his good wishes on to all of you,” Abbott added. “I look forward to when the project opens, because it will represent a tremendous forward advance, not just for the LGBTQ+ community, but it will be an enormous forward advance for the community as a whole.”
The crowdfunding campaign aims to raise £50,000 to help get the £100,000 needed in the bank to acquire and refurbish the Hackney space.
Josh Willacy, one of the centre’s main organisers, said at the event: “Where once there were extremely public and prescient barriers facing LGBTQ+ people. Today, the biggest obstacles are often less obvious and hidden from view. Every community deserves a space to exist in that’s safe, secure and filled with love and solidarity – and ours should be no different.”
This isn’t the first time that a centre for the LGBTQ+ community has been created in London. In, 1985, 33 years ago, The Black Lesbian and Gay Centre was opened, funded by The Greater London Council (GLC), and led by Ken Livingstone. Just a year later, the GLC was abolished and so all funding was cut and the centre relied solely on donations. Six years after its launch, the centre was forced to close.
The history of the former centre in London highlights the importance of the LGBTQ+ centre in east London. Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and Mayor of Hackney Philip Glanville are some of the other politicians lending their support to the project.