Really excited for this event that I have co-organised with Milo Bettocchi on March 22nd at Sutton House.
In 1985, Sutton House was occupied by squatters and re-named ‘the Blue House’. Rock concerts were held in the barn, and an old copy of the 1979 edition of the Squatters’ Handbook featuring legendary squatter, British Black Panther and feminist activist Olive Morris on the cover was recently found in the attic. Much like Sutton House, squatting has a colourful history in London, and much like the word Queer, this history is varied and contested.
Squatting has been used as a tactic by many LGBTQ people not only to survive but also to experiment with creating spaces in which they could thrive. This discussion will feature three queer speakers with histories of squatting across London. Learn about London’s radical queer history, and how they disrupt conventional understandings of squatting!
There will also be a rare opportunity to explore Hackney’s oldest house at night, and visit our new exhibition about Clive Jenkins and the ASTMS trade union, the last residents of the house before it was squatted.
All proceeds from the evening help us to carry out the important community outreach and conservation work we do.
Caoimhe Mader McGuinness lived and organised events in squats in France and the United Kingdom in the early 2000s. After attending Queeruption 4 in London in 2002, she was part of a queer squatting collective in St Etienne (to her knowledge the first in France) before moving to London in 2004 to live in a queer squatted house which remained queer and squatted until 2010. She was involved in organising a series of queer parties and fundraising events in squatted social centres in the city including Behind Bars, Queers Against X-Mas, G8 defendant support, and more recently Queer Caff at The Field (urban commons space), a monthly queer café that ran for a little less than a year in 2015. In her unfree time she is a lecturer in Drama at Kingston University London and publishes work on performance and politics.
Zia is an ex-squat baby, from a time and place when such things were more readily possible. The modern presentations of Brixton’s historic squatting scene fail to chime with Zia’s experience. Recent stories of squatting in Brixton from the 1970s up until the 1990s, with a few exceptions, are often faded, overwhelmingly white, British, and middle-class. Zia’s experience of this scene was far from this. The community they grew up in was utopically communitarian in ideal, but tough practically. Disidentification and experimentation, especially in regards to sexuality, were the norm, and the notion of the family as a fixed unit was being actively destabilised. It was a scene of illegal immigrants, redbrick Marxists, black and mixed-race anarcha-punks, working-class leather queers, DIY hippies, slumming Romantic hipsters – all with their own histories of struggle, their own ideas about the perfect future and about how to live together in the present
Milo Bettocchi, formerly of the House of Brag (a south London queer squatting collective active between 2012 and 2014) is now a PhD student at the University of Nottingham, where his research focuses on histories of anti-racist, feminist and LGBTQIA squatting in Brixton. He has co-led walking tours of Brixton’s queer squatting histories along with members of the London Rebel Dykes.
Tickets are selling quickly! Please book your tickets here: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/events/d82089d2-5d4e-4b02-bd57-354185c6adfb/pages/details