LGBT History Month in Hackney

A programme of events to celebrate the contribution of the LGBTQI community in Hackney

THIS year marks the 50th anniversary of the partial decriminalisation of male homosexuality in England and Wales. The world has come a long way since then but, as events like the Orlando nightclub shooting last year, showed there is still much work to do to combat prejudice in all its forms.

Hackney has a proud history of being a place that welcomes everyone. Which is why Hackney council has launched a programme of activities to celebrate the contribution of Hackney’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender plus (LGBT+) community.

Starting in February – which is national LGBT History Month – and continuing throughout the year, the council will be creating, curating and promoting a series of community-led events designed to support equality, inclusion and cohesion. It is hoped that each year, the programme will grow and develop, celebrating the fact that, in Hackney, everyone can be ‘out and included’.


Here’s what’s happening this February:

LGBT History Month Reception

1 Feb, 5.45-7.45pm

Kicking off LGBT History Month, the Mayor of Hackney will host a celebratory reception at Hackney Museum, and the artist Stik will introduce a short film about the Hackney Pride banner project (see image above). The event’s focus is on canvassing the community for ideas. What would people like to see in an annual programme of LGBT+ events, next year and beyond? Get involved, and the council may be able to give support, ranging from PR to venue space. To attend, e-mail:

Hackney Museum

Throughout the year

Hackney Museum has launched a drive to develop its LGBT+ history collection. It’s calling on residents to share personal records, photos, artefacts and recollections. As part of this exercise in crowd-sourced history, volunteers will be trained in the skills needed to record residents’ oral histories. An LGBT+ history map is also being created online. Residents can add pins to it, highlighting places and times in which significant or personal LGBT+ history was made.


Hackney Libraries

Throughout February

All eight of Hackney’s libraries will be hosting LGBT+ book suggestion stalls, highlighting LGBT+ authors and stories. Throughout the month, visitors will also be able to pick up leaflets from GALOP, an independent service helping anyone from the LGBT+ community who has experienced hate crime, sexual violence or domestic abuse.

Health charity Positive East will also have a presence at Hackney’s libraries, offering HIV tests and information about the virus. No appointment necessary, just drop into a session on the following days, and get the result in minutes:

1 Feb, 11am-2pm
Hackney Central Library,1 Reading Lane, E8 1DY.

15 Feb, 11am-2pm
Dalston CLR James Library, Dalston Lane, E8 3BQ.


Hackney Schools and Colleges

Throughout the year

Students at BSix Sixth Form College have set up a LGBTQ history club and are working with Hackney Museum to retrieve and share objects, archive material and oral histories relating to the LGBTQ community in Hackney past and present.

Young people from Urswick School, BSix and Project Indigo are also working with LGBT+ charity Educate and Celebrate to develop an event for schools across the borough during LGBT History Month, further details to be announced soon.

Youth Parliament Debate

5.30-7pm, 27 Feb

Hackney’s recently elected Youth Parliament members will hold a debate to discuss issues affecting young LGBT+ people in the borough. Recent research from the NSPCC showed that over half of LGBT+ young people have experienced homophobic bullying at school, and last December, ChildLine received an average of eight calls a day from children who wanted to talk about gender identity issues. The debate is open to anyone aged eight to 19, so join in the conversation at Young Hackney Forest Road Youth Hub.

Young Hackney LGBT+ youth group

Weekly, from 1st week in Feb

The council’s youth service is launching a new LGBT+ youth group, which will discuss issues around history, culture, identity, sex and gender, sexual health, relationships and discrimination. There will also be time to socialise and make friends. Young Hackney Forest Road youth hub, 29 Forest Rd, E8 3BY. For more info, call: 020 8356 5573; or e-mail: 


Project Indigo

Every Thursday

A counselling service for young LGBT+ people (13 to 25-year-olds), or those questioning their sexual or gender identity. Off Centre, 68-82 Digby Rd, E9 6HX.

Celebrating 50 years of radical Queens with Stuart Feather
7.30-9.30pm, 6 Feb

Stuart Feather is the first participant to write a history of the lesbians and gay men who joined the Gay Liberation Front and initiated an anarchic campaign that permanently changed the face of this country. Celebrate 50 years of Radical Queens at The Glory, Dalston, followed by John Shane’s 1970 video of Gay Liberation Front activism.

Film – 'The Danish Girl'

5-8pm, 16 Feb

It’s film night at Dalston CLR James Library, where ‘The Danish Girl’ is screening. A remarkable love story inspired by the lives of artists Lili Elbe and Gerda Wegener, the film follows their marriage and work as they navigate Lili’s ground-breaking journey as a transgender pioneer.

Hackney Wotever LGBTQ History Month

7.30-11pm, 16 Feb

A popular queer night filled with performance, visuals and music, celebrating and looking back. Hackney Attic, Hackney Picturehouse.


Stik Hackney Pride Banner Auction

Apply by 22 Feb

Local charities and voluntary groups are invited to apply for tens of thousands of pounds in funding. At last year’s Pride parade, Hackney was represented by a banner created by the internationally renowned street artist Stik.

It will be auctioned at Christie’s in April, with all the proceeds providing a grant for a Hackney-based project, delivered by a voluntary and community sector organisation, and designed to serve the local LGBTQ+ community.

There’s no predicting exactly how much will be raised, but another work by Stik (pictured above) recently reached £35,000 at auction.


The LGBT+ Reading List at Hackney Libraries this month:

‘Mr Loverman’ by Bernardine Evaristo

Winner of the Ferro-Grumley Award for LGBT Fiction, Barnardine Evaristo’s novel centres on Barrington Jedidiah Walker, a 74-year-old man who leads a double life. Born and bred in Antigua, he’s lived in Hackney for years. A flamboyant, wise-cracking character with a dapper taste in retro suits and a fondness for Shakespeare, Barrington is a husband, father, grandfather, and also, secretly, in a gay relationship with his childhood friend, Morris.


‘Tipping The Velvet’ by Sarah Waters

Former Stoke Newington resident Sarah Waters’ award-winning novel ‘Tipping The Velvet’, is set in the music halls of the late 19th century. The story starts in a small Kentish town, where oyster girl Nan meets her heroine, Kitty, a male impersonator. The two begin a double act, move to London, and embark on a behind the scenes love affair.

And for kids... 

‘And Tango Makes Three’ by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell

In the zoo there are all kinds of animal families. But Tango’s family is not like any of the others. This illustrated children’s book, aimed at four to six-year-olds, fictionalises the true story of two male penguins who became partners and successfully raised a chick in New York’s Central Park Zoo.