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Meeting and Socialising

LGBTQ people have used all kinds of places and buildings to meet and find partners for queer sex, for same-sex love, for socialising and for political activism. Women have faced more constraints in their use of public space than men, and appear in historical sources less frequently.

  • Men lying in the grass on Hampstead Heath

    Places for Sex

    Public spaces have always been considered potential sexual spaces, away from the watchful eyes of family and neighbours.

  • 'No Loitering' sign in toilets

    Indecent Behaviour

    Areas that were predominantly or even exclusively male social spaces provided opportunities for same-sex socialising and intimacy.

  • Posed group photo of partygoers in fancy dress at Chelsea Arts Ball at the Royal Albert Hall, New Year's Eve 1946

    Cross Dressing and Socialising

    Cross-dressing has been used by queer people to mark out their own meeting places and events since the 18th century.

  • Black and white photo of people at Colony Club

    Bohemian London

    Located next to the fashionable West End, nightclubs and underground bars mushroomed in Soho from the early 20th century.

  • A drag show at the Royal Vauxhall Tavern

    Pubs and Clubs

    Clubs and pubs have long offered spaces where queer people can meet and socialise with relative freedom and as such become important community spaces.

  • Film still from The Killing of Sister George showing people drinking at a bar

    Lesbian Clubs and Pubs

    A few lesbian clubs appeared in the mid-20th century though it was less socially acceptable for women to go to pubs until after the Second World War.