BRIXTON heART ROOM is located in the so-called ‘Brixton Gay Community’, a cluster of houses in Railton and Mayall Road, their backsides facing each other across a shared garden. The premises, which were owned by the GLC (Greater London Council), had been squatted in the mid 1970’s by a group of gay and lesbian activists, many of whom were involved in the early Gay Liberation Movement. The housing project was only one of a number of Brixton-based gay/feminist initiatives and activities, far too numerous and ‘colourful’ to be covered here.

Unfortunately, no comprehensive history of 'Brixton Gay Community' and the radical political network it was part of seems to exist, but personal accounts, images and other references can be found on as well as in Goodbye to London - Radical Art and Politics in the Seventies, edited by Astrid Proll (Hatje Cantz Verlag: 2010); the book is also the catalogue of a 2010 exhibition at the Neue Gesellschaft für Bildende Kunst, Berlin.

In the early 1980’s the buildings comprising the Gay Community were bought by BRIXTON HOUSING CO-OP, renovated and divided into 22 single person units. To this date, all tenants are gay/lesbian/queer and though none of the ‘first generation’ of squatters remain, many current occupants have been living in ‘The Community’ for more than a quarter Century.

The term BRIXTON GAY COMMUNITY is used here purely for historical reasons, since for most of the 1970’s and 80’s this was a purely male collective. In the 1990’s, however, the group’s housing policy changed to include lesbians, and the more accurate title would now be BRIXTON LESBIAN AND GAY COMMUNITY (members have, as a whole, never embraced the term ‘queer’ and while the designation LGBT COMMUNITY is more inclusive, it would not accurately describe the current composition of the group).
Top and above: Back view of the 'Brixton Gay Community' houses in Railton Road, early 1980’s, before renovation.
Jonathan Blake and Nigel Young working in the garden (1986).
Houses in Railton Road (back view) after renovation. Architect: Mark Tinker for Solomon Housing Association/Brixton Housing Co-op.