"Life in the 1980s? Well... it was exciting, it was scary, it was fun, it was poor, it was a great time and a terrible time to be young and queer in London." Debbie Smith
REBEL DYKES HISTORY PROJECT focuses on the heritage of a group of young lesbians who lived in London in the 1980s. This loose grouping was made up of young punk women on the edge of society. The areas of London that the heritage focuses on is Brixton, Vauxhall, Peckham, Soho, Forest Gate and Hackney. The young women were involved in political movements of the period 1983 - 1991, including Greenham Common, South London Women’s Hospital Occupation, anti-censorship, sex-positive feminism, sex workers rights, anti Section 28, ACT-UP and the Poll Tax Riots. As a movement they were heavily involved in art and culture, creating bands, art, club nights, zines and festivals.
Our project has inspired a host of art activities from sound to textiles to drag performance. We have worked with a number of academics to ensure these stories get into the history book. We are working with filmmakers to create a Feature Length Documentary. We run occasional events, including Gatherings and Online Film Club. We work with numerous partners, including Bishopsgate Institute and On The Record. We inspire, we develop community, we have fun. We are The Rebel Dykes, and we believe anything is possible!
Before there were queer activists, before there were Riot Grrls, there were the Rebel Dykes of London. They were young, they were feminists, they were anarchists, they were punks. They met at Greenham Common women only nuclear protest camp. Then they lived together in squats. They went to political demo's every Saturday, they set up squatted creches and bookshops, feminist newspapers and magazines. They had bands like Poison Girls, Mouth Almighty, The Darlings and The Gymslips. They ran sex positive Lesbian S/M clubs and women's nights at legendary The Bell. They were gender fluid, they were trans friendly. They worked in the sex industry, or in manual trades, or between the cracks. They lived their politics. They fought and won. They were the first generation of sex positive outlaw women, and nothing has been quite the same since.