The London LGBT+ Forums Network is a collection of individual LGBTQIA+ forums, Prides and borough-based community groups from across Greater London. They exist to tackle issues of inequality within the public services and to be a voice for their members and LGBTQ+ residents as well as deliver projects that celebrate our shared culture and heritage.
In partnership with London LGBT+ Forums Network, five new Rainbow Plaques will be unveiled, dedicated to people, places, culture and significant moments that have been obscured or lost in LGBTQIA+ histories, supported by The Mayor of London’s Untold Stories Fund and Wandsworth Oasis.
Initiated in 2018, Rainbow Plaques is an ongoing national scheme highlighting the importance of intersectional LGBTQIA+ visibility in our streets and public spaces. While there have been significant advances in the rights of LGBTQIA+ people, many individuals and communities continue to experience discrimination and hostility. At a time of heightened tensions, increased transphobia, hate crime and targeted budget cuts to community services, this programme works to honour the histories and legacies of influential LGBTQIA+ figures and their associated spaces, stories and culture.
Suggestions for the new plaques were crowdsourced by a group of more than one hundred people who took part in consultation workshops and rigorous discussions alongside an advisory panel including Dr Justin Bengry (MA Queer History course convenor at Goldsmiths, University of London), Fisch (Performer and Activist), Tessa Havers-Strong (Director of Forum +), Juliet Jacques (Writer and Filmmaker), Nathan Lewis (Programme and Partnerships Manager of Black Thrive & Chair of Southwark LGBT Network), DJ Ritu (DJ, Broadcaster, Producer) and Marc Thompson (Curator and Activist).
The five new Rainbow Plaques will be dedicated to:
- Beautiful Thing, Greenwich
Written by Jonathan Harvey and directed by Hettie Macdonald, Beautiful Thing (1996) is an important queer cinema classic with its representations of coming out and coming-of-age within South East London’s working-class communities. The story is set and filmed in Thamesmead and Greenwich, and the Rainbow Plaque will mark a key scene filmed at The Gloucester pub, known today as The Greenwich Tavern.
- London Lighthouse, Ladbroke Grove
Founded in 1986, the London Lighthouse was a pioneering centre and hospice for people with HIV and AIDS. It offered an innovative model of residential and daycare for adults and children, offering respite for people marginalised or abandoned following their diagnosis. Princess Diana first visited in 1989 and often went unannounced to talk with patients.
- Black Lesbian and Gay Centre, Peckham
Originally established in Haringey in 1985, the Black Lesbian and Gay Centre project found a permanent home in a converted railway arch in Peckham in 1992. Whilst local to London, the project reached people far beyond, providing advice, counselling, a helpline and library. The centre was the first of its kind in Europe and serves as an essential inspiration for queer communities today.
- Jackie Forster, Westminster
In the 1960s, journalist, writer and Lesbian Rights activist Jackie Forster (1926–1998) joined the Minorities Research Group and wrote for the UK’s first lesbian publication Arena Three. She later set up the long-running magazine and social group, Sappho. Sappho was hugely influential, offering a safe forum for women marginalised by society and working at the intersection of the Women’s Liberation Movement and the Gay Liberation Front.
- Section 28, Haringey
In the 1980s, Haringey was at the forefront of the LGBTQIA+ rights movement. In 1986, the council set up the Lesbian and Gay Unit, among the first of its kind in the UK. In the same year, the group Positive Images was formed to increase lesbian and gay visibility. Haringey Civic Centre became a site of numerous protests in the struggle for equality.
The Rainbow Plaques programme was established in 2018 by York Civic Trust and the York LGBT Forum to honour lesbian diarist Anne Lister (1791–1840). The programme builds upon existing work established by Wandsworth LGBTQ+ Forum and Studio Voltaire in creating permanent plaques for Oscar Wilde at Clapham Junction Station in 2019, and the 1980s film classic, My Beautiful Laundrette, on Wilcox Road in 2021.
These five new plaques demonstrate a wider ambition to grow the Rainbow Plaques programme across the UK, and to inspire communities to share their nominations, spark important conversations and make more queer history visible in the public realm.
This series of Rainbow Plaques is generously supported by The Mayor of London’s Untold Stories Fund as part of his Commission for Diversity in the Public Realm, with additional support from Wandsworth Oasis.
Untold Stories is a £1m fund to help communities test, develop, create and grow projects that share their community’s stories with the city. Projects include a ‘walk of fame’ celebrating the role of Irish and Pakistani workers in Cricklewood; an augmented reality map highlighting Poplar’s hidden histories; a new mural in Croydon created by and for learning disabled artists; and new walking tours that offer a homeless perspective of London’s streets.
Since its foundation in 1989, Wandsworth Oasis has provided support to – and challenged stigma towards – those living with HIV. Using revenue generated by their nine charity shops located in south London, as well as fundraiser events, they have given over £1 million in grants to HIV-related projects and organisations during the last ten years alone.