Under Your Nose: A project documenting black LGBT activism

By Veronica McKenzie

How it started…

When I interviewed three ex workers last September, I envisaged Under Your Nose as a short 10 mins film about the Black Lesbian and Gay Centre (BLGC).  But as I listened to their stories and looked into the history of the centre during the politics of London during the 80’s, I saw that the work carried out  – often at huge personal cost – in the run up to the centre’s opening, was largely undocumented.  As Dorothea says in the trailer – if you google ‘black lesbian and gay centre’ – Jack shit!

I believe people should know about the groundbreaking role black activists played during the struggle for LGBT equality in the late 80’s and early 90’s. From a radically inclusive definition of ‘black’ to forging international coalitions, the BLGC’s work was crucial to the development of ideas around intersectionality, diversity and inclusiveness championed today. From Thatcherism, to Section 28 and AIDS, the BLGC newsletters, and pictures from 30 years ago make visible the thriving black lesbian and gay movement in the UK. We even have the t.shirt!

So with my small savings, and equally excited and daunted by the scope of the story, I started. I got help from a camerawoman Doreen and editor Fahmida who both worked for practically expenses to get the trailer completed. Researcher Ony came on board to help –  again for expenses. They’ve done such a fab job. Please take a look at the trailer if you haven’t done so yet.

About me

I’ve been involved with politics from an early age, working at Women’s Aid, Stonewall Housing, and employment advocacy non profit LAGER. My creative work for TV and film includes writing comedy sketches for ‘BLOUSE ‘N’ SKIRT, (BBC 2 comedy panel show), and the ’11 O’ CLOCK SHOW’ (Channel 4 with Ricky Gervais), as well as storylining on Coronation Street, theatre (A Woman on Fire – a tribute to Nina Simone) and film (Nine Nights BBC). I love  projects that champion diversity and positive histories.

What We Need 

The project has been self financed so far. Then we hit a brick wall! Archive footage costs a LOT of money- and they will HUNT us down if we use it without paying.  

We have to stump up. We’ve shot about two hours of footage and have another three people who have agreed to be interviewed. This involves some overseas travel, a film crew and refreshments. A major obstacle of the project was securing the huge amount of images and footage needed and we’re lucky to have identified two photographers who have agreed to licence their work to us.

The money raised will:

-secure footage and images to bring the story to life

-pay for the remaining interviews, film crew expenses and refreshments

– post production, and transferring to DVD.

– producing the educational booklet that accompanies the film

The Impact & What You Get

The result of completing Under Your Nose will be to bring to light an exciting story about radical queer protest, political empowerment, and life long friendships, during a time of ra ra skirts and leg warmers. Your contribution will help make their story mainstream and hopefully inspire activists working in the LGBT field.

We are confident we’ll be able to premiere the film in London, LA, and either Atlanta or New York so all backers at a certain level can look forward to a great do! We’re also building an online community that we hope will become a learning/networking and reference resource for LGBTQI activists worldwide.

Other Ways You Can Help

We understand that some people just can’t contribute, but we’d appreciate it if you could share this link to the trailer with your networks and on social media sites.

Thank you!



About Black Feminists Manchester

This is a group for women who are ‘black’ in the political sense. I.e: women who self- identify, originate or have ancestry from global majority populations (i.e. Africa, Asia, Middle East and Latin America) multi heritage and indigenous backgrounds.
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