14: Comptons of Soho


51-53 Old Compton Street

In 1993, Soho’s gay and lesbian community came together for the Queer Valentine Carnival.

Organised by OutRage!, nearly 2,000 lesbians, gay men and their friends gathered for an afternoon party and a street parade to commemorate the takeover of the area. Partygoers gathered in Soho Square and, dressed in gold robes, filmmaker and gay celebrity Derek Jarman declared the proceedings open.

A carnival float carrying gods and goddesses of gay love, and their choir – a Brazilian samba band – moved through Soho on an uncharacteristically warm and sunny day.

Revellers proceeded to ‘bless’ each venue with showers of confetti and as the parade turned onto Old Compton Street, activist Peter Tatchell conducted a renaming ceremony. Henceforward, he proclaimed, the thoroughfare was to be known as Queer Street.

A painted sign was unveiled from the window of Comptons and the landlord sprayed the crowd with champagne.

Next stop: Admiral Duncan