sex+ Front Line brings you the people and groups on the front line of sexuality, doing what they love and changing the world for the better. We are kicking off with dan glass from Queer Tours of London.
Who are you?
We are a sex positive group that runs queer tours to challenge normative beliefs in our value systems and empower a more radical sexual culture, throwing everything up in the air about who we are and where we are from. We set up this group specifically at the beginning of 2016 because it was the 50th anniversary of the Abortion Act (1967) and the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality. We wanted to catch the narrative and recognise the activists on the ground before this becomes a win of the establishment. It is important to tell our own story.
What are you doing?
We run Queer Tours with three main purposes:
- Shine a light on London’s rich LGBTQI history through creative, audacious and life-affirming interactive walking tours
- Knowledge is Power – Understanding our Queer History to build for our Queer Future
- Generate People Power and Financial Support for London’s Queer campaigns.
We have central tours for the general public which explore how institutions have oppressed us and how we have responded, how over the centuries we have existed, connected, thrived and created spaces or spaces have created us (particularly relevant now with the slaughter of space). We also help groups establish their own tours. We worked with Rebel Dykes on a tour called ‘Brixton Dykes of the Rampage’ coming up in March and we have been working with queer homeless groups training them to become tour guides and talk to people about their struggle. We are planning special tours covering the queer labour movement, abortion rights and the overlap between queer movements and women’s liberation.
On one tour, someone brought their mum, which was beautiful and she burst into tears because she didn't realise the gravity of the situation her daughter is going through or the culture that her daughter represents. If we want to raise awareness, allies are really important.
Why does it matter?
We don't have access to infrastructure and democracy on the same level as heterosexual people. Within the context of what used to be considered ‘normal’, it wasn’t so long ago that we had the public morality council and the national vigilance association which deemed us as abnormal, deviant and wrong, on both patriarchal and homophobic grounds. In recent history, people were getting electrocuted and castrated, put in prison, beaten up and now the pink pound is being abused to profit the establishment.
A third of queer spaces have been shut down in the past two years. These aren’t just clubs or pubs, but also mental health, HIV charities, rape and domestic violence services have all be threatened. This is partly due to government cuts as well as an assimilationist culture that says 'Oh well, you're legal now, what do you need your own spaces for?' There are a million reasons why we need our own spaces.
Ultimately, this activism matters because knowledge is power...if we don't understand where we come from, we won’t understand where we can go.
What's your secret weapon?
Community. Once you feel grounded in community anything is possible.
What's your favourite cheese?
I reckon it's got to be Emmental. Half my family are polish and half are German/Dutch and my Nan used to bring me Emmental cheese.
How do we show some love?
You can check our our website or Facebook. The main thing to watch out for that’s coming up is an event called 'Yesterqueer'. February is LGBT history month and we are doing a big street art production that is going to flow onto the streets showcasing personal and historical places. Come and join us!