Oxford Lesbian and Gay Community Centre (Northgate Hall)

Project October.jpg


Oxford Lesbian and Gay Community Centre (Northgate Hall)


After a five-year grassroots campaign, known locally as ‘Project October’, the City Council agreed to lease Northgate Hall on St Michael’s Street to the community, to serve as a Lesbian & Gay Community Centre. It was opened in 1991 by Sir Ian McKellen in 1991.

"It was always in a bit of a state... it was such a scruffy old church hall... we just had a mirror ball stringed up and that was it really.”

The Northgate hosted many community groups, such a queer drama and improvisation group, a lesbian history group, and the youth support group ‘Way Out’. It also served as a social space, with a variety of club nights. These included a women’s only disco on Thursdays and a mixed night on Saturdays.

I really liked it on the Saturday because it was like it was quite queer and also different people from Blackbird Leys and you had posh people from the Uni and it was all there together mixing and no one was fighting or anything. It was really good. So yeah, I really miss that place. I really miss that place.”

Some others also remember the place with fondness:

“maybe because where I grew up, I felt like the only gay in the village and that support just didn’t exist there. [...] Iit was more like a kind of community disco than a nightclub [...] but aIt actually created much more of that community feel, because people could sit around and talk as well as dance, and there was sort of an upstairs balcony where you could just sit at a table and chat. [...]. I it kind of just felt a little bit like a school disco, b. But in a really nice, familiar, homely way. […] Iit wasn’t even about pulling or meeting other people in a romantic sense, it was just exploring that part of yourself and having that safe space to do it in.”

For others, the memories are more complex. For many local Trans* people in particular, it remained inaccessible and invisible:

I didn’t even know that it was a gay venue. If I were to say to most of my trans friends “Northgate Hall” they wouldn’t have a clue what you’re talking about, other than it’s a building.”

The Northgate Hall closed in 2005.

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