Project October was set up in 1986 to attempt to rectify a pressing need for local facilities for lesbian and gay residents of Oxford. Documents held by Oxfordshire Studies evidence the large amount of time, energy, and money that went into the project.
Project October resulted in the setting up of the Oxford Lesbian and Gay Community Centre (OLGCC) at Northgate Hall (on St Michael’s St). Opened by Sir Ian McKellen in 1991, OLGCC was one of the only community centres of its kind in the country until its sad and much lamented closure in 2005.
On 15-16 March 1993 Paddy Ashdown (then Leader of the Liberal Democrats) visited OLGCC where he spoke to local gay men and lesbians about how they organised themselves to take action in the community. His reflections on this visit form chapter nineteen of his book Beyond Westminster: Finding Hope in Britain (1994). The chapter still makes powerful reading and stands as a testament to the tenacity and courage of Oxford’s lesbians and gay men through the bleak midwinter of Section 28 and the early years of AIDS.
Also in 1993, celebrated Tales of the City author Armistead Maupin visited Northgate Hall to sign copies of his book Maybe the Moon.
Image: Pink Times, Winter 1989