the forbidden world of gay clubs with david hoyle

The avant-garde performance artist takes a starring turn in Matt Lambert’s new film, God Is Watching.

by Felix Petty
03 July 2017, 11:57am

As part of the Tate Britain's exhibition Queer British Art 1861-1967, Channel 4 have commissioned six new films; six portraits of queer individuals by six queer filmmakers. We're proud to premiere this instalment; Matt Lambert capturing the iconic David Hoyle, the Divine David himself, who talks god and gay clubs, dragged up in custom Rick Owens.

Matt Lambert and David met through James Jeanette, when Matt was making a music video for Declan McKenna. Their connection grew when Matt was working on a video for David's husband Christeene with Rick Owens. In the film, entitled God Is Watching, David pays tribute to the power of gay clubs, the safety they represent, and the hedonistic escape they offer.

"My most recent book, HOME, explores the evolution and value of digital spaces as our contemporary safe spaces for LGBTQ youth," Matt explains to us, of his desire to make the film, and what inspired him. "The book opens with a foreword by Bruce LaBruce who laments the dramatic decrease in physical safe spaces — from bath houses to darkrooms — as virtual ones have taken their place. Whether they be virtual or physical, I've been fascinated with exploring and celebrating the transcendent nature of safe spaces within the community, and how they play an essential role in us finding ourselves."

Which is exactly what David talks about in the film. He begins by discussing his religious upbringing and how gay clubs offered him a chance to find belonging, aged 17, in Blackpool. "That evening I felt like I was going to cross a line and enter a forbidden world you weren't meant to go into," he says in the film. "It was like turning my back on responsibility, the excitement drove me on, I wanted to meet people like me and not feel so alone. I found a community of people and it felt like I'd been waiting all my life to meet them."

"It was an honour to pay tribute to one of our queer prophets, whom the community holds in such high regard, but who has gone relatively unsung to the masses."


Text Felix Petty

Matt Lambert
Tate Britain
David Hoyle
queer british art 1861–1967