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Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Queer London last Saturday

In spite of the horrendously horrible weather (cold, windy, sleet and snow) there was a good turnout for the Queer London interdisciplinary conference at the University of Westminster on Saturday, although alas a few cancellations by advertised speakers.

This was a rich day of thought-provoking papers from a variety of fields and perspectives - the large number of good papers offered meant that all sessions apart from the keynote and the final round table were organised as parallel strands, and I am entirely sure that I missed some excellent presentations through a failure to master the art of bilocation.

A motif raised in Matt Cook's extremely juicy keynote which recurred in a number of other contexts during the day was the significant role of of subcultures or counter-cultures which weren't 'queer' in the sense of being specifically LGBT, but which were unconventional and accepting enough to provide a place of possibilities, a community of support and warmth mixing up different groups.

Similarly, Anne Witchard's exciting paper on early C20th lesbian nightclubs in Soho located these within the relatively late development of a London nightclub scene (by comparison with the cosmopolitan metropolises of continental Europe) and the connection between these and a wider raffish bohemian, 'arty' subculture widely perceived as transgressing conventional barriers of race, class, and gender.

The organisers, who are to be congratulated on the success of the day, hope that this will be only the start of further initiatives on Queer London, and on the basis of last Saturday, there is a substantial amount of interest in taking this further.

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