Find out why this toilet is an important piece of Islington’s gay history at museum exhibition from Saturday

The public toilets in Highbury Fields were a cottaging hotspot in the 1960s. Picture: Islington Muse

The public toilets in Highbury Fields were a cottaging hotspot in the 1960s. Picture: Islington Museum - Credit: Archant

Fifty years ago, homosexual acts were illegal and this public toilet in Highbury Fields was a “cottaging” hotspot – a meeting point for gay men looking for sex.

On Saturday, it – or, rather, this photo – goes on display at Islington Museum.

It’s part of a celebration of the five decades since homosexuality was legalised. Islington has strong links to gay history, not all positive: Oscar Wilde was imprisoned at Holloway and Pentonville, and playwright Joe Orton lived in Noel Road with Kenneth Halliwell, the lover who went on to murder him.

But Islington is also where the UK’s first openly gay mayor (Bob Crossman) and MP (Baron Chris Smith of Finsbury) served. Composer Benjamin Britten shared a studio here with his partner. And since 1967, a raft of gay rights organisations have fought for equality from within its borders, including the Gay Liberation Front and London Gay Switchboard.

Up Against It runs till October


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