‘Gay Times’: The Brixton Squatters

  • Matt Cook
Part of the Genders and Sexualities in History book series (GSX)


Soon after arriving from Ireland in the mid-1970s David got off the bus in Brixton, south London, and wandered along Railton Road.

There was this group of black men standing around and I remember going up to them and saying ‘excuse me, could you tell me where the Gay Centre is in Brixton’. This black man said ‘sure, I’m just going home. I can take you up there’. [… I] waited there and about a minute or two afterwards this vision in purple and red and diamonds walked past. He flashed his eyes at me and swished around the corner and up the stairs. […] It was Alistair. He took me to 159 Railton Road and it was liberation because I looked around at all these people who looked like me […] we were going to change the world tomorrow — overnight and there as going to be gay liberation in a year’s time. Marvellous. (David’, 1983)1

This was David’s introduction to what became known as the Brixton Gay Community. The first house in this community — the one visited by David — was squatted in 1974; the gay centre he mentions opened in squatted premises just along the street at 79 Railton Road in the same year. Nine more houses were subsequently squatted on Railton Road (between 153 and 159) and the parallel Mayall Road (between 146 and 152), and were home for between 50 and 60 men for anything from a week to almost ten years.


Communal Garden London Borough Great London Council Black Queer 
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Copyright information

© Matt Cook 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Matt Cook
    • 1
  1. 1.Birkbeck CollegeUniversity of LondonUK

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