Brixton Fairies: Made Possible by Squatting
A series of interviews with South London Gay Liberation Front members, who squatted the first Gay Community centre in London along with many houses on Railton Road in 1970s. The film is intended to highlight the indebtedness of the LGBTQ movement to squatting and direct action.
Taha Hassan was involved in setting up House Of Brag collective. House of Brag was established in 2012 as an alternative production company running film screenings, talks, parties and more.
Patrick Cash review of Brixton Fairies
*The following is taken from a written piece originally located at QX Magazine here.
By Patrick Cash (Twitter.com/@paddycash)
When I was first asked by Anton to introduce the Brixton Fairies documentary made by Tara, I was at first a little stumped. I didn’t know much about either the House of Brag or gay 70s squatting. However, when interviewing Tara for QX Magazine about his reasons for making the film, I swiftly began to see how involving, valid and vital this story is to the LGBT community of 2014. As Tara himself says: ‘Histories like this are extremely relevant today because they teach us that the progress we enjoy now happened as a result of direct action and political activity that emerged from the squatters’ movement.’ In this film we have our history, that of the LGBT community in London.
I’m delivering this introduction as a member of that LGBT community, and a representative of a magazine that I want to serve that community as much as possible. I believe that one of the greatest enemies of today’s LGBT community is not only external hate, but also apathy amongst ourselves. An apathy to that which is going on outside our immediate worlds where you and I may be fine – to blind ourselves to what is going on in other places in the world. In Russia, yes, but also in Uganda, Nigeria, the Ukraine, Iran and the eighty plus countries around the world where it’s still illegal to be gay.
Or it could manifest itself as an apathy towards the less visible, but still very real, currents of internalised shame and self-hate that may run beneath our legalised, marriageable gay culture here in the UK. ‘Chemsex‘ is a very real problem amongst some sections of the modern gay male population in London, where rising STI rates are linked to problematic drug use, particularly crystal meth. Many leading figures attest that this situation may have a large part to do with our complex relations to sex, a sex that was historically illegal and wrong.
But perhaps, in a way, we can understand this apathy towards action. There is an inherent lack of any gay hero figure in society. Fairy tales and legends that we learn from infancy all feature the strong, male, straight hero; the conception of a gay or trans hero is culturally void. Even in real life members of our community who commit real, heroic deeds, such as Peter Tatchell, who attempted a citizen’s arrest against Mugabe for his persecution of gay people, and who went to Russia and actively risked himself – sustaining police injuries – to protest with LGBT groups there, I have heard dismissed as ‘eccentric’ by voices from within our community. Some have even questioned why he is doing such actions.
Here, in the ‘Made Possible by Squatting’ film we are about to watch, in the anger and bravery of the Gay Liberation Front, the 70s gay squatters, the Brixton Fairies performing on the streets to make their message heard, we have our earliest gay heroes. So thank you to Tara for making this film and Anton for finding the funding, and I hope in watching it we can not only celebrate our history but also find inspiration for our continuing path to equality.
‘The Brixton Fairies: Made Possible by Squatting’ can be viewed at the following link: http://laundrettefilms.wordpress.com/2014/03/21/brixton-fairies-made-possible-by-squatting/