We caught up with the lovely Aubrey, the man behind West London Queer Project, ahead of their 2nd Birthday this weekend.
GLL: Why did you feel the need to set up WLQP?
I was initially approached by a friend and a local pub to help promote a cabaret night; however the friend shortly moved to Spain afterwards and so instead of a cabaret night, we started weekly “Social Sunday” in the pub’s garden. This was during the first lockdown when we were allowed outside in small groups, and week on week the numbers grew.
We then went into a second lockdown so unfortunately, the Sunday Socials had to end. I had a fulltime job at the time and so I kind of didn’t think about it again until I started receiving a number of messages and emails from people thanking me as they had made new friends, found new partners or were just happy that there was a local LGBTQ+ event that they could attend.
These messages were so heartfelt and sincere that it was impossible to ignore the need for LGBTQ+ spaces in West London, and so the West London Queer Project was formed.
GLL: How has London’s LGBTQ+ scene changed since you’ve been in the city?
I moved to the UK in 1998 and have always lived in West London. At the time, there were at least 9 gay bars within the area, however over the years these have all ceased to operate.
Unfortunately, it’s no longer sustainable for LGBTQ+ bars/venues to exist in the suburbs and remain open 7 days a week, which they need to do in order to cover running costs. I believe that dating apps and the cost of living are the main drivers behind the declining numbers and this is why pop-up bars/events appear to be the way forward.
As for London’s overall LGBTQ+ scene; I believe that this is still thriving and it’s great to see the increasing number of options that we have outside of pubs and nightclubs such as sporting, art and cultural and professional events.
GLL: Is there anything you’d like to see more of in West London?
I’d love to see more opportunities for our LGBTQ+ youth such as networking opportunities, mental health and wellbeing support and spaces & events that cater specifically for them.
Our LGBTQ+ seniors are also in dire need of support to help with isolation, loneliness and mental health issues.
The West London Queer Project has big ambitions to tackle all of these areas.
GLL: What’s been your favourite event you’ve put on so far?
They have all been my favourite, however, I’d have to say the Touch Rugby days make me the most proud of what we are doing. Unfortunately, there is some divisiveness, bias and segregation within the LGBTQ+ community, so to witness a diverse group of people turning up on a Saturday morning to play sports and have a great time together is incredibly rewarding.
GLL: What’ve you got planned in the upcoming weeks?
Unbelievably, the WLQP is two years old this weekend! On Friday we have two events, our weekly Friday Social at the Drayton Court Hotel in West Ealing and a ‘Hairspray’ Sing-along at the Chisiwck Cinema. On Sunday from 5pm, we are having a BBQ and party with Crystal Lubrikunt and Louis Cyfer on stage at 8pm.
Next week Sunday, we have an LGBTQ+ Parents and Kids brunch with free entertainment for the kids, and in the evening, Dolly Trolly will be gracing our stage for a night of comedy and song. Both events are at the George IV in Chiswick where all our members get 20% off all food and beverages.
GLL? What would you say to somebody interested in coming along for the first time?
Over the past 2 years, many people have come on their own to our events and a number of friendship circles have formed. If anyone is too shy to come alone, message us and one of our members will gladly meet you beforehand so that you don’t have to go alone.
You can keep up to date with everything WLQP HERE