UCL Urban Laboratory


Soho Spirit: Our Space or a Space in Our Minds?

20 February 2016, 10:30 am–6:00 pm

Soho Spirit poster

Event Information

Open to



St. Anne's Church and Community Centre, 55 Dean Street, London W1D 6AF

Soho is often envisioned, at both a national and an international level, as London's gay district. Its role as a space where gay identities and communities were made has shaped the urban experience of many LGBT people in London. However, with the advent of online spaces, the increasing inclusion of LGBT people in British society, and the rise in popularity of different urban areas, Soho's role for the LGBT community of London must now be reconsidered.

This event will answer the following questions: Can Soho still be seen as London's gay district? Why are so many LGBT spaces disappearing from Soho? Is there still the need for such spaces? If gay Soho disappeared, how would LGBT people experience a sense of community? Are new types of LGBT spaces appearing somewhere else?

The first session will retrace the history of the district, from its creation in the sixteenth century to the gay 'takeover' of the area in the 1980s and 1990s. We will then proceed by examining contemporary Soho and what LGBT people really think of the area. In a final session, we will consider the recent disappearance of LGBT spaces from Soho and other areas of London and we will discuss possible solutions for the future.

Organised by Marco Venturi, Gender and Sexuality Studies (CMII), UCL. Supported by qUCL, UCL Urban Laboratory and JFIGS. It forms part of the Cities Imaginaries programme within UCL Urban Laboratory.


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Further link

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Image: Spirit of Soho mural on Broadwick Street