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Your LGBTQIA+ Travel Guide to London

pride celebration

It’s no secret that London remains one of the world’s most magnificent LGBTQIA+ centers, with strong-knit queer communities and spaces nestled in many corners of the city. The fight against  LGBTQIA+ venue closers has been an upward-hill battle in many cities, but London’s queer communal spirit works to create and maintain essential social spaces. 

Today, LGBTQIA+ London is a cornucopia of organizations which host a diverse spectrum of queer events, nights out, and social meetings. Discover some of the city’s hottest spaces, and where to experience London’s iconic queer nightlife.

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Soho

Soho has been a historical core for the queer community in London, becoming known as a prominent LGBTQIA+ club scene since the 1930s. Today, Soho remains an iconic neighbourhood, bustling with a diverse range of queer spaces, clubs, bars, and restaurants.

Running through Soho is Old Compton Street – the unbelievably iconic queer road, home to some of Soho’s most adored LGBTQIA+ spaces. The opening of the historic bar ‘The Grande Dame of Old Compton Street’ in 1986 manifested the road as London’s queer epicentre. 

Also located on Old Compton Street is one of Soho’s oldest queer venues: Admiral Duncan, which started business in 1832. The venue remains popular amongst queer Londoners, and it stands as a symbol of strength for the city’s LGBTQIA+ community.

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Kings Cross

A short tube ride from Soho lies Queer Britain in Kings Cross; the UK’s first museum dedicated to LGBTQIA+ history and culture. The museum hosts exhibitions, music events, and hires event spaces/studios for queer collectives. Exhibitions range from historic queer illustration, fashion archives, and trailblazing LGBTQIA+ literature.

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Russell Square

A leisurely walk through central London brings us to Gay’s The Word in Russell Square. This is Britain’s oldest LGBTQIA+ bookshop, and, following its trailblazing opening in 1979, the bookshop became a much needed queer haven of information in central London. 

Subject to many queer-phobic attacks over the years, Gay’s The Word remains a pioneer of queer literature in London. Here you can find the latest LGBTQIA+ releases as well as vintage queer writings.

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Dalston

Moving to East London: this place has become renowned for its wild queer nightlife and immaculate showcasing of the city’s LGBTQIA+ talent.

In Dalston, queer venues gravitate along the central Kingsland High Street, making it a focal point of East London’s LGBTQIA+ community. Located on the high street, Dalston Superstore is a multipurpose queer venue in East London which hosts fierce drag brunches, club nights, queer DJ sets, and so much more.

Since its opening in 2009, they’ve worked with many charities, and the LGBTQIA+ Superstore drag brunch has reached cult-status, making it a must visit while you’re in London. 

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Regent’s Canal

The Glory, located along Regent’s Canal, is a performance venue created by, and for, queer individuals. Performances include, but are not limited to, DJ sets, live singing, cabaret, club nights, theatre, and comedy shows. 

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Whitechapel

Pxssy Palace is an LGBTQIA+ arts and nightlife organisation that centres around both the safety and celebration of people of women of colour, as well as queer, intersex, trans, and non-binary people of colour. The organisation has become a highly-celebrated community establishment hosting amazing events around East London. 

Hackney Wick

The Colour Factory in Hackney Wick hosts many events, and is a favourite amongst East London’s LGBTQIA+ community for its live music, queer discos, raves, and overall freedom of expression.

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Shoreditch

Also located in East London is The Common Press in the heart of Shoreditch: London’s first consciously queer and intersectional bookshop! Championing a diverse range of authors from marginalised backgrounds, here you can find your fav queer authors, feminist texts, and a selection of activist literature; as well as attend black history readings. 

In a different mood? Have a look through their range of graphic novels, plays, and poetry. The Common Press is an extremely important queer venue with four social spaces used to host a plethora of LGBTQIA+ events. These include queer yoga sessions, salsa dancing socials,  vogueing classes, queer writing circles, afro music jams… and so much more.

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Southwark

Looking for more LGBTQIA+ centred writing groups and workshops? Visit London’s LGBTQ+ Centre in Southwark – right next to the Tate Modern museum.  

The centre hosts an abundance of social groups including queer film clubs, ballet classes, arts and crafts, poetry, and community meditation. These all have the aim of creating a safe and sober spaces for members of the LGBTQIA+ community. The organisation was created in 2017 in opposition to isolation within the queer community, and today it works to give everyone in the community the space to express themselves and share their experiences. 

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Clapham

South of the river, Clapham is also an LGBTQIA+ core, and has been the place of many historical queer prides in London’s history. Today, Clapham is nationally-renowned for the amazing drag talent that takes place at venues such as The Grand.

The Clapham Grand is an independent LGBTQIA+ venue regularly hosting international drag and musical talent from around the world. Similarly, Two Brewers in Clapham attracts a large audience through its range of cabarets, viewing parties, themed club-nights, and queer talent shows. They host a plethora of beautiful musical talent, and being open everyday of the week makes it convenient to fit into your trip to London!

Clapham is also widely well known for drag brunches – take your pick of the many venues hosting  amazing selections of brunch, drinks, and performance. Blame Gloria’s ‘noughties’ themed brunch is regarded city-wide  as an unmissable brunch activity, bringing guests a taste of British musical nostalgia, and unforgettable drag talent.

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Vauxhall

A small journey north of Clapham brings us to Vauxhall: home to the iconic Royal Vauxhall Tavern. Once a Victorian musical hall, the Tavern is now one of London’s most visited queer venues south of the river. Hosting weekly drag cabaret shows and disco nights, Royal Vauxhall Tavern is a must-visit for those looking for a classic LGBTQIA+ London evening. Today, the tavern is regarded as South London’s oldest surviving queer space.  

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Brixton

A quick tube journey on the Victoria line brings us to Brixton, home to the annual Mighty Hoopla festival. Mighty Hoopla describe themselves as London’s ‘most fabulous and inclusive festival,’ and you’ll just have to see for yourself. Located in Brixton’s beautiful Brockwell Park, the Hoopla festival is a day of queer magic and celebration. 

Lineups flooding with queer icons like Nelly Furtado, Kim Petras, and En Vogue bring a diverse crowd from around London and the entire country. If you are in London during the start of June, you cannot miss this festival!

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UK Black Pride

Many spaces exist in London which cater to a spectrum of different identities within the LGBTQIA+ community which deserve protection, celebration, and support.

One of the most essential queer events and organisations operating in London is UK Black Pride – the world’s largest free Black Pride celebration founded by political activist Phyll Opoku-Gyimah. While internationally recognised for their annual Black pride celebration which brings in over 8,000 people from around the world; the organisation works vigorously throughout the year to support a wide range of marginalised communities. 

Through various campaigns, UK Black Pride is doing crucial work to uplift the community, create safe spaces, and in their own words: “promote unity and co-operation among all Black, BAME people of African, Asian, Caribbean, Middle Eastern and Latin American descent, as well as their friends and families, who identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Intersex.”

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Queer Circle

Another significant organisation is QueerCircle, located in the city’s design district. This charity hosts many events surrounding LGBTQIA+ arts, culture, and social change. Devoted to creating accessible and diverse spaces for the community, Queer Circle hosts weekly exhibitions  showcasing queer art, accompanied by a selection of workshops centered aroundpoetry, writing, socio-political matters, and personal growth.

With Christmas quickly approaching, London has an extensive trail of festive LGBTQIA+ events running up to the 25th. Don’t forget to indulge in queer Christmas discos, club nights, and social meetings. London is an ever-changing city. With new LGBTQIA+ organisations sprouting, and existing ones growing, you can find your niche queer event every single night of the week!

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