Lewis G. Burton on the London Queer Scene and Nightlife
Meet BRICKS Voices cover star and Inferno co-founder Lewis G. Burton who is aiming to shake up the London queer night scene.
IMAGES Courtesy of Lewis G. Burton
You co-founded INFERNO in 2015 and since then it has become one of the biggest queer events in London. How did you come upon founding INFERNO and why was it important for you to do?
INFERNOwas really born out of a frustration at the scene which was very white, cis, masc gay men dancing to house and disco. I wanted something different, something that better reflected me and my tastes. Alongside this happening, queer artist friends of mine were being rejected from the institutions, galleries and from residencies in the art world so it was about holding space for them and commissioning them to make new work. It made sense to combine it all together and it’s grown into the entity that it is today.
The queer club scene is different all over the world, as an active part of the London queer scene, how would you say it is different from anywhere else?
I think there’s such a rich history of queerness and culture in London’s veins and as a result, it’s created something really special you can only find here. It’s such a multicultural and diverse metropolis that brings people from all walks of life together. There’s something really special and unique about that.
Gay bars have always been somewhat of a mecca for the queer community, but over time these spaces have started to close down. Why do you think this is and what impact does this have on the queer community?
The greed of man and capitalism is the reason we’re losing these spaces. It means we’re going to have less space and have to be more resourceful. We’re being pushed further and further out of the city. Without the culture that the LGBTQ+ community brings to London, it would lose one of the things that makes it special in the first place. A good way of counteracting this happening is going out to your local LGBTQ+ ran/owned venues and spaces and supporting them.
How can we foster a sense of community while in isolation?
We can’t foster a sense of community while in isolation online. We can check in with each other and let the community know that we are here for each other but there is no replacement for the real-life interactions we have in a physical space.
What does the word queer mean to you?
Queer means a lot of things to me, it’s my gender, my sexuality and my identity. It’s my community.
What is your earliest memory of the queer community?
I remember going to a VICE party at The Old Blue all the way back in 2011 when I first moved to London. I went to the toilet to top up my lipstick in the mirror then out strolls Oozing Gloop (complete with a gorgeous manicure spelling out VICE SUCKS) and Sancho Hemelsoen from a cubicle and we hit it off immediately. They took me to the Joiners Arms (RIP) and became very good friends. It was one of my first experiences with what’s now my queer community.
I am optimistic about the future of queer people with an extremely engaged and politically minded younger generation emerging; filling me with so much inspiration, rage and hope.
Although the mainstreaming of queer culture has resulted in so many positives, it has also paved the way for niche representation of queer identities. What are your thoughts on the mainstreaming of queer culture?
I mean as you said there are many positives such as visibility, wider acceptance and platforming of queer people but at the end of the day, the representation we have is drag race which is only platforming cis-gendered gay men. Cisgender gay men have assimilated quite well to heteronormative society it’s whether they choose to support and lift up the very members of their community that fought for the rights they have today or idly watch as society keeps attacking the most marginalised within the queer community. We still have a long way to go especially with the visibility of transgender people within the mainstream and not just to have them put on shows like Good Morning Britain where transgender people have to defend their right to exist and live against a transphobe under the pretences of a ‘debate’.
Are you optimistic about the future for queer people?
Even though we have a transphobe and someone who has voted against the equal rights of the LGBTQ+ community as the ‘equalities minister’ I am optimistic about the future of queer people with an extremely engaged and politically minded younger generation emerging; filling me with so much inspiration, rage and hope.
Watch the music video for Lewis Burton’s single Hermaphrodite below and be sure to keep up with their work on Instagram
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