Get to know the LGBTQ+ history of the British capital with this bucket list of venues, shops and landmarks picked by Alim Kheraj, author of 'Queer London'Less
Founded by London drag royalty Jonny Woo and John Sizzle, this East End boozer is home to some of the best drag and cabaret in the city. Like the gay bars of yesteryear, it also exudes a community spirit so often missing in today’s queer venues.
More than just a bookshop, Gay’s The Word has been the epicentre of queer life in London for four decades. Once a hub of political activity, the shop now provides a sanctuary for LGBTQ people of all ages and an incomparable stock of queer literature.
Royal by name royal by nature, this London institution has welcomed gay men since the 1950s. It’s now the city’s most inclusive spot for alternative theatre, cabaret and drag, as well as iconic club nights like Duckie.
In 1999, a nail bomb attack at the Admiral Duncan pub in Soho injured dozens and killed three people: Andrea Dykes, Nik Moore and John Light. In St Anne’s Gardens there is the Admiral Duncan Memorial Bench and three trees planted in their memory.
This basement bar located underneath Little Ku in Soho is London’s only permanent lesbian bar. While it might be on the small side, it’s definitely mighty, offering a safe space for queer women and hosting London’s best drag kings.
Opened in 1979, this mammoth club has evolved throughout the decades, although it’s always been a space for LGBTQ people. It’s now home to G-A-Y club, which regularly hosts PA performances for the likes of Kylie Mingoue and Little Mix.
With one shop in Soho and another in Earl’s Court, CloneZone has been serving the LGBTQ community since 1982, specialising in everything from underwear to adult toys. The West London branch also has basement specifically for fetish gear.
Plays host to The WayOut Club, the oldest trans night in London. This weekly event launched in 1993 and has built a real community around it. Open until 3am and playing mostly pop hits all night, there’s usually also a performance from a drag act or trans singer.
The UK’s longest running, and now last, leather bar, Backstreet’s door policy hasn’t changed in over 35 years: if you’re not wearing leather, rubber or fetish gear, you’re not getting in. Visitors can borrow leathers, however, if they’re eager to come inside.