For the last 14 years, February has had a little rainbow flag stamped its corner. It is the month in which we open up the archives and delve into our collective closet to uncover, celebrate and explore the UK’s LGBT+ history. This year’s theme is ‘peace, reconciliation, activism,’ with a host of events aiming to claim our past, celebrate our present and create a more open future.
This ground-breaking art exhibition has rolled into St Pancras Hospital every year for the last decade. Showcasing the work of 40+ professional and amateur artists from Camden, Islington and across London, it provides a crucial platform for queer artists. “Many do not go through conventional training and have not always had the chance to exhibit,” says Nigel Harris, Camden LGBT Forum Director. “The show gives many the opportunities to get their creativity out.” This year’s theme is Let Art be the Food of Love, with various forms from sculpture to installation, photography to painting. Free all February, Conference Centre, St Pancras Hospital, 4 St Pancras Way NW1
2.Islington: Making the Invisible Visible
N1 is a treasure trove of queer history: the first public gay rights protests in Britain happened here in 1970, London’s Gay Switchboard launched on Caledonian Road (above Housman Bookshop) in 1974 and the UK’s first openly gay Member of Parliament, Chris Smith, was the MP for Islington South & Finsbury in 1984. Now, thanks to a pot of money from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), a team have gathered this information and created a dedicated archive; filled with oral histories, objects and artefacts about socialising, politics, health, discriminating and community development. It is a living archive that they will keep developing and using as an educational resource. If you have memories and collections you’d like to share head here. Free, ends 30th March, daily 10am-5pm (closed Wed & Sun) Islington Museum, 2 St John St, EC1V
3. #WeAreTheBlackCap: A Photographic Retrospective
For four years, activists #WeAreTheBlackCap have been embroiled in a public battle as they attempt to save Camden’s legendary pub and cabaret venue, which closed back in 2015. Thanks to the continued efforts of the grassroots organisation, however, they have stalled this, receiving guarantees from the council to ensure the venue stays queer. Over the years, the activists have held weekly silent vigils, loud sing-a-longs, drag performances and a whole host of inventive tactics to keep the community’s and the council’s attention on their plight. This month they are launching a retrospective photographic exhibition that documents their colourful and noisy battle to save the Black Cap. Free, Mon 18th Feb, 6-9pm, Castlehaven Community Association, more here.
4. Transmissions: An Evening with Munroe Bergdorf
Dalston’s VFD is an underground bar, both an originator of and incubator for queer activism and artistic experimentation for over a decade. Transmissions is their monthly club night; a joyous celebration of gender diversity for trans people and their allies. For the first time this month, they will be inviting the renowned model and activist Munroe Berghorf. She will be discussion trans-inclusive fashion, her talk will be sandwiched with live performances, a Q&A and DJs following on after that. VFD, 66 Stoke Newington Road N16, Mon 18th 7:30pm, tickets here.
5. Trans History Tour of London – Stonewall Riots at 50
For as long as there has been gender, there have been people playing with its boundaries, subverting its categorisations, and expressing it according to their own truth. This has, of course, never been easy, and with the current state of the world, trans people seem to be more under scrutiny than ever before. As such Queer Tours of London – the brilliant historians and walking tour guides – are launching a new trans-focused brand helping to unpack the jargon, debunk the myths, and learn a few home truths along the way. This month’s tour is in tribute to Marsha P Johnson – the Transwoman of colour started the Stonewall Riots and who co-founded New York’s Street Transvestites Action Revolutionaries (STAR). £10 waged, £5 unwaged, profits go to Trans Helpline, Transfiguration, grab tickets here. Sat 23rd Feb, 2pm-4pm, Soho Square Cottage, W1D
6. Nightlife and Queer Utopias
The dancefloor has long been celebrated as a utopian space to express identities and desires. London’s club scene has however undergone a worrying transformation in recent years, with over 50% of venues closing. While the Mayor of London has pledged to safeguard LGBTQ club culture, is enough being done to defend – and revive – the dancefloor? This panel discussion at the V&A explores why nightlife matters and what more needs to be done to reinvent the scene in London and beyond for everyone on the queer spectrum. There will also by live performances and DJs. Free, drop-in, 23rd Feb, 2pm-4pm, Lydia and Manfred Gorvy Lecture Theatre, V&A, Cromwell Road SW7
7. Lipstick: A Fairy Tale of Iran
Part theatre, part drag cabaret, this fairy tale of Iran fuses storytelling, vaudeville, theatre, lip-synch and burlesque in a story of rage, redemption set between Tehran, Derry and London. In 2010, writer and director Sarah Chew went to Iran on a theatre residency, and the experience changed her life. Lipstick: a fairy tale of modern Iran is inspired by that time, driven by the passionate desire to address the rise in hard borders and cultural and ethnic exclusion – from a political and personal perspective.26th Feb – 24th March, Omnibus Theatre, 1 Clapham Common North Side SW4
Main image: Marsha P, Johnson, Trans Tours LDN