London’s LGBTQ+ neighborhoods
“Soho has the widest choices for LGBTQ+ venues in the city, centered around Old Compton Street,” Ric says. He recommends bars such as The Yard and Comptons, though Soho has such a wealth of venues that visitors seeking LGBTQ+ nightlife options will be spoiled for choice. “The other area of London that’s particularly popular with gay men is Vauxhall, south of the river—the Royal Vauxhall Tavern is one of London’s oldest entertaining venues.”
And if you don’t mind a day trip, Brighton—located on England’s South Coast, and just 1 hour from London by train—is considered the country’s de facto LGBTQ+ capital. Ric also runs an LGBTQ+ history tour in the city, if you’re after another vantage point on Britain’s LGBTQ+ culture and history.
Where to learn about London’s LGBTQ+ history
“I love books, so my first port of call would be Gay’s the Word, Britain’s oldest LGBTQ+ bookshop,” Ric says—the bookshop has been around since 1979, and is one of the stops on his tour. And for serious research, Ric recommends heading to the Bishopsgate Institute, which “holds the largest LGBTQ+ archives in the UK, covering politics, culture, literature, and kink, and welcomes visitors and often hosts events.”
And as of 2022, there’s a new destination for those looking to learn about LGBTQ+ history in London—Queer Britain, a museum located in the regenerated area just north of King’s Cross Station.