Queercircle is the kind of place its founder Ashley Joiner craved when they first arrived in London 15 years ago. While making their documentary ‘Are You Proud’ in 2016, the 33-year-old met Andrew Lumsden, a member of the Gay Liberation Front. He convinced them to set up a five-day event celebrating LGBTQ+ artists in a holistic setting. Its success prompted years of consultation, workshops and conversations about how to recreate the experience in the long-term. It soon became clear that Queercircle needed a physical space.
It found its home in the Design District of North Greenwich, and is a free-to-enter space that champions talent within the LGBTQ+ community while giving people the opportunity to meet up and organise. ‘One of the reasons for building it is to ensure that younger people who are coming into the city have a space and a network of people they can connect with,’ says Joiner. ‘Not just in a professional capacity, but on a very personal level.’
Art, of course, is a key focus. Queercircle will host its first exhibition, ‘Let Me Hold You’, from artist Michaela Yearwood-Dan, from June 9 to September 8. ‘Michaela’s work will embrace the community as they come in,’ Joiner says. ‘I wanted to create an environment where we could start from a place of joy and celebration.’ Running in parallel, ‘The Queens’ Jubilee’ will showcase archives of the radical drag queens of the Gay Liberation Front and coincide with the fiftieth anniversary of the first Pride march.
For the future, Joiner hopes to create cross-generational relationships at Queercircle as well as political change. ‘Learning from the community over the next 12 months will be pivotal for our development,’ they say. ‘Big picture, we’re looking to diversify the arts and culture sector, develop a health and wellbeing programme to fight the cuts to services and ensure our community is looked after.’
Find out more about Queercircle here.