Beleaguered by redevelopments and rising rents, London’s most iconic queer venues have had a rough year. Stalwarts such as the Black Cap and the Joiners Arms have shut their doors and many more are currently under the avaricious leer of property developers and landlords, so their cards are likely marked too. But while the well-documented gentrification of London is leaving an indelible stain on the capital’s queer scene, the reality is that it’s always been in a state of flux.
“Over the years, the scene has always been fluid and moved from area to area,” says club promoter Wayne Shires, a titan of London’s gay scene since the early 80s. “When I was 15 or 16 and first out, people were still going to Earls Court. It was everyone’s scene really. People used to go out there because it was a little group of bars: Bromptons, Copacabana and the Coleherne.”