blue poster with a line drawing of Frida Kahlo and text dotted around

The LGBTQ+ community's history in Dulwich, as in many places, has often been hidden, so the Local History group is researching the contributions, challenges, and milestones of LGBTQ+ people in Dulwich. If you can add to this history please contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Reflecting the social attitudes and legal restrictions of the past, many LGBTQ+ individuals in Dulwich led lives of discretion, even secrecy, to avoid persecution, making it difficult to recover their history. However, the late 20th century saw the rise of LGBTQ+ activism in the UK, and, by extension, in Dulwich and the decriminalization of homosexuality in 1967 marked a pivotal moment, offering hope and opportunities for people to live more open lives and participate in their community.

Pubs have long been gathering places for LGBTQ+ communities, in Dulwich, as elsewhere, offering safe spaces to socialize and connect. In the early 1990s the East Dulwich Tavern on Lordship Lane hosted Little Frida’s, the women-only lesbian night. The newsletter Southwark Sappho which offered 'non-separatist support' for all lesbians, publicised events such as Little Frida’s (named for Frida Kahlo). They also promoted local services for gay women and hosted sessions covering issues such as racism in the lesbian and gay community.

Community organizations can offer support, resources, and advocacy to LGBTQ+ individuals and raise awareness of issues. Dulwich Hamlet FC in particular has been a great ally. In 2014, it was one of the first clubs to support the Rainbow Laces initiative and in 2015 played Stonewall FC, Britain’s top-ranking gay football team. TRUK United, the first transwomen team, played Dulwich Hamlet Women FC, a cisgender team. With its ‘We don’t care which side you play for’, slogan, Pride merchandise and rainbow floor mural, the club models visibility, acceptance and unity within the community. Other community groups also offer support, such as South London Lesbian and Bisexual Mums, an informal support group for lesbian parents and their children which meets at the Goose Green Community Centre.

Dulwich Picture Gallery has hosted artists who have explored LGBTQI+ stories and histories, such as Sacha Coward’s ‘Out of Frame: LGBTQI+ Night’ which looked at the queer histories within the gallery’s collection.

While significant progress has been made in LGBTQ+ rights and acceptance, challenges remain. Issues such as discrimination, mental health disparities, and inequalities in healthcare access are still relevant in Dulwich, as elsewhere. Local initiatives, including awareness campaigns and educational events, play a critical role in addressing these challenges and fostering a more inclusive society. 

The history of LGBTQ+ individuals in Dulwich is a part of a broader narrative. Recognizing and celebrating LGBTQ+ history is not only a matter of historical accuracy but also essential in promoting acceptance and equality for all members of the community, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. By acknowledging the contributions and challenges of LGBTQ+ individuals, Dulwich can be a place that embraces diversity and fosters a sense of belonging for everyone.