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Authority record
Camden LGBT activism

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.

Camden Lesbian Working Group

  • Corporate body
  • c.1980-1982

Camden Lesbian Working Group was a previous incarnation of the Camden Lesbian Centre Project (in itself a previous incarnation of Camden Lesbian Centre & Black Lesbian Group). The group was formed at Kentish Town Women's Workshop around the late 1970s or 1980, and they were originally named the Kentish Town Lesbian Group.

When Camden Council Women's Committee was established sin 1982, they adopted the group as a subcommittee and it became Camden Lesbian Working Group. Later that year, the group was again renamed, this time, with a name that would endure for longer: Camden Lesbian Centre Project (CLCP). As CLCP, the group successfully applied for Council funding, coordinated meetings and events, and began looking for premises to establish a physical centre for the local lesbian community.

In 1985 CLCP merged with the Black Lesbian Group, thus establishing Camden Lesbian Centre and Black Lesbian Group (CLCBLG). CLCBLG would secure premises at 54-56 Phoenix Road in February 1986; the Centre opened on 31 October 1987, and closed in late 1995/early 1996.

DAHLING

  • Corporate body
  • c.1990s

DAHLING was a social group for D/deaf, HoH and hearing lesbians. They held regular socials and planning meetings at Camden Lesbian Centre in the early to mid 1990s.