Camden Lesbian Centre and Black Lesbian Group

Poster

Found: Bishopsgate Library

Date: 1980s

Close to this building are some old chairs that bear the insignia of the GLC Women’s Commitee on it, a  sign of feminist and female organising in the area. The organisation that possesses these chairs is now Training Link. Previously it was the site of The Camden Lesbian Centre and Black Lesbian Group (CLC & BLG), the first and only dedicated lesbian centre in England. The two groups (formed separately in the early 1980s) merged in 1985 with the goal of establishing a community space exclusively run by and for lesbians. It was a difficult journey to secure a permanent location. The group initially secured a grant from the Greater London Council, which disappeared after the Thatcher government abolished the body. The CLC & BLG raised the funds themselves and were eventually successful in securing a lease, despite intense community opposition. In October 1987, the Camden Lesbian Centre finally opened its doors at its dedicated location, 54-56 Phoenix Road. Right next door to us! They operated and hosted a range of radical lesbian activist and community groups from the surrounding area. They included GEMMA; a friendship network for Lesbians with disabilities, whose activities included the self-publishing of guides to gay life for queer people with disabilities. Other groups that used the location included the Lesbian Unwaged Club and the Lesbian Mother’s Afternoon Tea, who both supported lesbian parents. Lesbian mothers were excluded from government support, and these groups connected new parents to a network of radical organisations such as the Lesbian Custody Project.

The CLC & BLG suffered from successive funding cuts from Camden Council from 1989 until funding was ceased entirely in 1995 forcing the closure of the group.

By Millicent Gerstle

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