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Authority record
Camden Black People (LGBTQ)

Zamimass

  • Corporate body
  • 1990-c.1998

Zamimass was a radical Black lesbian collective which explicitly aligned itself with socialist politics and intersectional freedom struggles. The group began in December 1990 when three Black lesbians organised Zami Love Day, an alternative celebration to Christmas Day featuring poetry readings, music, and a communal meal. Following this, Zamimass coordinated community actions, creative and cultural events, and a regular newsletter, as well as printing posters and other ephemera. From 1991 onward they met regularly at Camden Lesbian Centre, until the space closed around 1995; after this point, they apparently continued some of their activities before winding down in the late 1990s. The collective's manifesta, a copy of which can be found in the Camden Archive, sets out their vision for working towards liberation along lines of class, race, dis/ability, sexuality, gender, and education.

ONYX: The social and discussion group for Black lesbians and lesbians of colour

  • Corporate body
  • c.1989-c.1995

ONYX was a social and discussion group for Black lesbians and lesbians of colour. By its own definition, it encompassed '[a]ll lesbians descended (through one or both parents) from Africa, Asia (i.e. the Middle East to China, including the Pacific Nations) and Latin America, and lesbians descended from the original inhabitants of Australasia, North America and the islands of the Atlantic and the Indian Ocean'. The group met once or twice monthly, first at London Friend at 86 Caledonian Road (c.1989-1991) and later at Camden Lesbian Centre & Black Lesbian Group at 54-56 Phoenix Road (from 1991 onwards); discussion and publicity were led by volunteers.

Camden Lesbian Centre and Black Lesbian Group

  • GB 1534 CLCBLG
  • Corporate body
  • 1982-1996

The Camden Lesbian Centre Project (CLCP) was founded in 1982, when several women from a loose social collective known as Kentish Town Lesbian Group (based at the nearby Kentish Town Women’s Workshop) recognised the need for a space expressly for lesbians. The group - all of whom were white lesbians - successfully applied for grant funding from Camden Council Women's Committee, and they began organising regular meetings and events with a view to establishing a centre for lesbians. In 1984, the Black Lesbian Group was founded as a support group for Black lesbians and lesbians of colour, who faced the tripartite barriers of homophobia, racism, and misogyny; the group used the term 'Black' in the broader political sense.

Having worked closely together, Camden Lesbian Centre Project and the Black Lesbian Group merged to form the Camden Lesbian Centre and Black Lesbian Group (CLCBLG) in 1985. Despite their differences and the fact that CLCP had originally excluded Black lesbians from its initial stages, BLG members felt the merger presented an opportunity to improve things for their community. The merger agreement stipulated that at least 50% of CLCBLG's staff and its Management Committee would comprise Black lesbians and that around half of the Centre's events and workshops would be for Black lesbians only.

From 1985-86, CLCBLG sought out premises across Camden. Although initially unsure of how the site would work for them, the group eventually applied for a change of use for a former retail space at 54-56 Phoenix Road, which they were granted amidst vocal resistance and homophobia from some local residents. The group signed the lease in September 1986. CLCBLG worked with Matrix Feminist Design Co-operative, Support Community Building and Common Ownership Design and Construct (CODAC) to renovate and alter the Centre before opening its doors to the public on Saturday 31 October 1987. From this point onward, the Centre was a social and political hub for many strands of London's lesbian community, becoming home to workshops, socials, seminars, discussion groups and other events. It became the base of groups like the Older Lesbian Network, Zamimass Black lesbian group, and GEMMA, the friendship network for disabled and non-disabled lesbians.

With successive and ever more severe cuts to grant funding from Camden Council, CLCBLG was forced to scale down its paid staff members and operations from c.1990 onwards. The Centre eventually wrapped up its operations in 1996, when the group was informed that they'd receive no grant funding in that year's budget.