My Local has Closed

When I was 14, my mate Alan and I walked passed the Black Cap. Alan asked me if I knew it was a gay bar, I didn't. He only knew this because his uncle was a bit limp wristed - we thought the rainbow flags meant it was a squat. 

At 17 I would get pissed in there pretty much every Monday night with my lesbian flat mates Ellie and Abbie, I danced to R&B with Angel next to the stage played by Simon LeVans, we'd drink alcopops with black straws at £2.50 a pop that led us to run over the road at 3am for rubbish chips and disappointing falafel. 

One hungover morning my Mum told me about the sworded nights she had spent at the Cap, she was a bit of a goer in the early 80's and would knock about with Jimmy Smith and the gays of Camden Town so she wasn't surprised when I made my grand revelation. 

I eventually plucked up the courage to ask for a job when I was almost 18, I needed to fund my alcopop addiction. A bloke called Wayne interviewed me, I told him my Mum knew Jimmy and so I got the job. Wayne taught me all about the witches of Camden Town, the secret tunnels that run under the Cap to the World's End (Mother Redcap) and the story behind the mural on the ground floor.

I spent hours trying to overhear the gossip from the older queens at the end of the upstairs bar as I pulled their pints of bitter (the irony was not lost on them), they'd speak in polari just to spite me - little did they know they egged me on even more. 

Eventually they allowed me to be apart of their gang, sort of - I was no longer 'one of those young queens, queen'. They'd tell me stories of who used to frequent the bar, what happened when Kenneth thought she was 'something special' and that night Frankie came in '...with that bloody awful syrup'. Most importantly these queens taught me my second language - campery.

One afternoon Wayne asked me to work downstairs for the first time, a bloke ran in and asked for a soda and lime, grabbed it and took it to the dressing room. A few hours later a Bjork lookalike throw her self across the floor of the night club and smashed into peoples drinks, 10mins after that a woman with a birdcage sang Feed the Birds whilst throwing loaves of bread and KFC at punters heads - the first live drag act I ever saw was Titti la Camp.

This year on New Years Eve, 400 weirdos decided to spent their first hours of 2015 with me and Black Lace. As I looked at the punters tearing down the glitter slash, taking selfies with my Mum and my favourite band sipping vodka and coke after creating the best conga ever, a feeling of accomplished fun came over me. 

This morning I woke up in San Francisco's Castro district to an email that read: 'No doubt you will have heard, but the Cap has been sold. Therefore we won’t be able to be a part of NYE this year with you'.

Major love to Jamie, George, Meth and the gang of weirdos who led the Cap in its last hours. In the words of George 'It is the people and the memories that create our community' - now go out, meet some real people and create a bloody community.

That little patch of land in the neighbourhood I was born into and still live in has been sold off - no warning, no fight - another queer space sold for redevelopment to a wealthier, profitable 'community'. 

Before I left for America Bette Bourne said to me 'you see Scottee, we fought for our spaces - you lot need to fight. Whose going to fight for it, Scottee? ...you need to start talking to each other' 

The significance of hearing about the closure of the Cap in the Castro echoes Bette's thoughts - this neighbourhood is covered in rainbow flags proudly declaring ownership. The businesses are not sex or booze led - they are oyster bars, hairdressers, organic food shops that are queer owned. 

London's queer islands are rapidly disappearing and we're writing blogs. In the not so distant future queer spaces will be apps, they'll function for a certain demographic of white, gay men to have the sort of sex that white, gay, gym going, straight acting men want to have with each other. 

The kids inspired by their first drag act will not exist, the weirdos of queer culture will be forced to comply with homogeneous activities, queer will become retrospective and we'll write more blogs about what it used to be like - boring.

You faggots have got far too complacent with your place in society, you've been thrown an equality bone and now you want to be like any other 30 somethings who ignore their heritage, any sense of solidarity with the other letters associated to LGBT culture and your willing to fit in to hetero normative ideals of homosexuality. 'Non-scene' means your frightened of being a part of something, it doesn't make you more interesting.

If you want to live in a world where you have a space that teaches you about your identity, allows you to contribute to a community and freely exist in amongst others like you then live in that world.

Get off the Internet and get radical, make art, create spaces, squat your local Victorian pub, get violent you bunch of pansies - gay liberation wasn't built on badges and banners, it was built on mouthy queers taking up too much space. 

London is changing and perhaps we're fighting a loosing battle of community against equity but your status updates on fears of the RVT, #RIPMadameJojos or sadness at the Cap are lukewarm. 

No comments: