The UK capital has a new, multi-service queer hub. Unfortunately, for now, the recently-launched London LGBTQ+ Centre is only a six-month pop-up. However, the people behind it hope to make it a permanent part of the community.
The London LGBTQ+ Community Centre is located at 60-62 Hopton Street, SE1 9JH. It lies between the world-famous Tate Modern art gallery and Blackfriars rail station. The center (admittedly small in comparison to many LGBTQ centers in the US), offers a cafe, lounge, and social space for meetings and groups.
It officially launched on World AIDS Day (Dec 1) with a fundraiser for the National AIDS Trust.
For the time being, members of the public are welcome to stop by on Wednesdays to Sundays. The center will be used for private bookings on Mondays and Tuesdays.
GayCities popped along to check it out last weekend. Inside, the cafe offers well-priced drinks (cheaper than the local coffee chains) and even some free beverages for those who can’t afford to pay (others are invited to pay it forward). There’s a small library of donated books, plus merchandise, including tote bags and pins. More than this, it offers a much-needed, quiet respite from the wintery weather outside and the tourists milling around the Tate gallery!
The London LGBTQ+ Centre: Safe and sober
The team behind it says the London LGBTQ+ Centre will be, “a safe, inclusive, sober, intergenerational and intersectional space run by the community for the community. The six-month pilot will serve as a proof of concept for a permanent Centre. It will be a place where chosen families can form and flourish—where LGBTQ+ Londoners and visitors can relax, be themselves, feel safe, build connections, and access services.”
The city previously had a permanent London Gay and Lesbian Centre. Occupying several stories of a building in Farringdon, it opened in 1985 but closed in the early 1990s after management disagreements and a shortfall in funding.
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The new center has become a reality after a crowdfunding campaign in 2018 managed to raise just over £100,000 ($133,000). Around £50,000 of that came from the rock band, The 1975. It’s also received some funding from the UK’s National Lottery and has the support of the Mayor Of London, Sadiq Khan.
In a statement, Khan said, “It has never been more important to have a safe, inclusive, all-day space for all LGBTQ+ communities to be themselves, reduce isolation and improve wellbeing.” He added that he would “do all I can to transform it into a permanent space.”
Trustee, Chloe Davies, told the Evening Standard, they want to use the “six months to really work out a blueprint of who we hope to be in our permanent space.”
Regular events at the moment include yoga and meditation sessions, plus an upcoming winter market (Dec, 18th). If you live in London or are passing through, help make the pop-up permanent by visiting and spending some money. Alternatively, you can also donate online.
Five fun things to do in London
1. Ku Bar
Soho’s Ku Bar recently celebrated its 26th birthday. It occupies three stories in the Chinatown district, with an upstairs cocktail lounge and basement club. Ku also has a smaller sister branch off Old Compton Street and runs a women’s bar, She.
2. Royal Vauxhall Tavern
The Royal Vauxhall Tavern has a history going back to the 1860s. It’s unknown when it began to become popular as a gay hangout, but by the 1960s, it regularly hosted drag. It’s now home to nights such as Duckie (Saturdays), Bar Wotever (very trans and non-binary friendly), and the bears club, Beefmince.
3. Eagle London
A stone’s throw from the Royal Vauxhall Tavern is Eagle London. Unlike Eagle bars in other parts of the world. Eagle London has ditched its leather and cruising image and instead gone for a more inclusive, everyone-welcome feel. It’s home to hip Sunday nighter, Horse Meat Disco, and offers one of the best beer gardens in the city.
4. Old Compton Street
Any trip to London must include a walk down Old Compton Street in Soho, widely regarded as the city’s main LGBTQ neighborhood. Queer bars include G-A-Y, Comptons, the Duke of Wellington and Admiral Duncan. There are also plenty of cafes and restaurants.
5. Zodiac Bar
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Zodiac is the new kid on the block. After a spell in Archway for a year or so, the team recently took over a large pub between Euston and Camden. A bar and club operation, it offers regular karaoke, speed dating, drag, open mic sessions, and much more besides.