UK: From The Inbox. On Queer Housing

Articulating these ideas began as a rant about why building houses in middle-of-nowhere-green-space is fucking stupid. The UK has a privatised, unreliable, unaffordable and inaccessible public transport system and a road network that spits on pedestrians, cyclists and anyone not on four wheels. Its bad for people and for planet, but profiteering companies will build “homes” regardless of the inaccessibility of their locations and the impact they have on the pre-existing environment. They’ll board up and tear down flats in already urbanised areas, tell us there’s not enough homes and get a fat cheque from the state to build some wanky new ones. Their justification for urban sprawl and natures receding tree line is that there aren’t enough homes.

We have spent several long years protesting against new roads and HS2, with some downtime getting particularly angry about housing developments. And it seems we aren’t the only people with fire in our bellies! We are inspired by the resistance Generation Rent has shown landlords throughout the pandemic, by the resilience of fellow squatters, by boaters fighting the CRT’s boat cull, and by folks organising under the Housing Rebellion banner. We are just beginning to have the words to describe how big the housing crisis is, and how our experiences as queers and as squatters can inform the radical solutions we need.

We see this issue through the lens of the Construction Industrial Complex, but on a primal level, this boils down being fucking queer and needing a place to live. We see all crises and systemic issues reflected in the housing crisis.
People cant heat their homes? No wonder!
Local businesses struggling? I swear those flats were full of people last week!?
Gendered violence skyrocketing? And who does she live with!?
Green spaces depleting? Lets talk about housing!
We must dramatically transform how we relate to one another as people and the other species we share this world with.

During the time that we have been resisting major infrastructure projects we have found ourselves in a plethora of squats, sites, hovels and homes. Each space has been unique in their approach to housing people. Living outside of the nuclear household has broadened our horizons to what is possible when it comes to housing. We have learnt to embrace and sit with what might as first be uncomfortable. There are so many ways to relate to one another and live together outside of the ways we are taught in traditional family life. We need to queer our solutions to the housing crisis.

When we demand housing that is “affordable”, “good quality” and “built to our needs”, we know there are alternatives to gentrification, luxury flats and the countless middle-of-nowhere new builds that blight our cities’ green belts. As working class queers, “affordable” ain’t even in our vocabulary. It is clear that building “more of the same” is adding fuel to the raging fires of the housing crisis and the climate and ecological crises.

Ngl, we probably aren’t going to get straight-married, get a mortgage, and have 2.4 kids who we’ll live with in our own nuclear unit. (There are already enough houses to suit this lifestyle and we don’t mind it, we just wish they’d keep it to themselves.) The construction industrial complex does not serve us, in fact it is actively harmful to our very existence as a queer family. This world was never built for us, in fact a lot of it has been built to keep us out! We reject housing that reflects this neoliberal and isolationist lifestyle.

We need housing that reflects our connection and dependence on each other and on the natural world. The queer community is a sprawling ecosystem of family and friends. Many of us who grew up in isolated rural settings, or in homophobic & transphobic environments move to cities searching for a community to hold and to heal us and we are met with one bed flats, patio gardens (if you’re lucky), and housing that deepens the sense of isolation. We reject the little boxes we are given to live in that are separate from everyone else’s little boxes.

We need collectivised, well stocked and equipped kitchens that we can share with more people, we need shared laundry facilities, we need to knock down the fences between our backyards, plant gardens in spite of landlords. Imagine how much time, money and space we could save if we had shared facilities that met everyone’s needs? Imagine working appliances that we all shared and took shared responsibility for, no more waiting for an absentee landlord to come to the rescue. Alternative dynamics and ways of living are possible. We must learn to embrace and sit with what might as first be uncomfortable. Can you see yourself living with another family? Or with people of different ages and genders? Can you imagine breaking bread with your neighbours? Or even knowing their names?

Many communities, including the queer community, have been resisting the hegemony of “traditional family values” ever since those values were invented. We need to learn from all those struggles if we are to overcome the housing crisis, not by trusting in corporate greed as they build yet more housing designed for nuclear families and young urban professionals.

Some associates of S.H.A.G. (Stonehenge Heritage Action Group)

Some squats in UK
Some Groups in UK:
Events in UK:

Crowbars 1 : Landlords 0 – A collaborative effort to fan the flames of the housing struggle