Queering the Map of Glasgow

By Jennifer Novotny, Diverse Heritage Project Officer

On Saturday, 11 January SCT delivered a community mapping workshop with Glasgow Disability Alliance’s LGBTQ+ group at GDA premises in Templeton Business Centre, Bridgeton. GDA recruited participants, organised taxi hire and catering (paid for from the Diverse Heritage budget). SCT arranged a guest speaker, Tommy Clarke. Tommy volunteers with Out On Sundays, an LGBTQ+ walking group, and led LGBTQ+ walking tours of Merchant City during DOD 2019.

Despite terrible weather and a large independence march (including street closures near the venue), 12 individuals attended. All attendees identified on the queer spectrum and covered a wide range of ages, though there was little ethnic diversity (attendees were predominantly white).

The day began at 10.30 with a virtual walking tour (using PowerPoint slides) delivered by Tommy. There was a lot of interest in Tommy’s content, which generated discussion throughout. Attendees were especially interested in sharing memories of clubs and bars, as well as discussing access to different venues. One older participant contributed information about Glasgow’s gay culture in the 1970s, including his experiences of some of the city’s oldest (e.g. earlier 20th century) venues that were still part of the underground scene at that time.

After the presentation, there was a break for lunch, during which attendees engaged in friendly discussion. Having this unstructured social space was an important part of the day, as the GDA Community Development Coordinator observed that many participants were new to the group and had not been to an event before. Some of the group’s regulars had been prevented from attending by the weather or were attending the independence march instead, so this gave newcomers a chance to introduce themselves.

After lunch participants gathered in 2 groups around 2 A0 maps of Glasgow city centre, supplemented by a number of A3 sheets of surrounding areas. After a brief caretaking discussion, they were encouraged to draw, write, collage, or otherwise interact with the maps however they wanted.

Prompts provided were:


  • Do you go to feel part of your community?
  • Do you feel safe?
  • Do you feel visible?
  • Do you feel unwelcome?
  • Do you feel unsafe?
  • Do you feel invisible?
  • Have you felt loved?
  • Have you felt understood?
  • Have you felt threatened?
  • Have you felt excluded?

One group had a free-form discussion about different places around the city where they had positive and negative personal experiences – a kiss, for example, or the regular location of a hate preacher.

The other group took a more systematic approach and made a colour-coded timeline of LGBTQ+ venues during different decades (1970s, 1980s, and 1990s).

One individual colour-coded places from a personal view, layering where he felt safe/part of the community/visible with concentric rings of marker.

There was a lot of discussion, cooperation, and sharing throughout the mapping session. As seen in previous events, having an intergenerational group was highly beneficial. And not only memories were shared, but also practical tips, including what companies are the most helpful for locating a light-weight wheelchair, or which LGBTQ+ organisations are more or less welcoming to disabled persons. Perhaps tellingly, none of the participants left early and chatted until the end of the session at 15.30.


GDA collected written feedback and this is currently in process. One participant gave positive feedback via Twitter the following day, saying:

This feedback is particularly gratifying, recognising precisely what we want these events to achieve: a welcoming, inclusive space where people can come together to socialise, learn about places and spaces important to themselves and others, and where everyone can be their whole selves.