A queer guide to London

4 December 2020

In this article, we give you a brief overview of LGBT+ life here in London. Whether it's socialising in and around town, UCL's LGBT+ society, or simply some LGBT+ literature, London has it in spades.


Coronavirus (COVID-19) and London life

We understand that some of you may be studying remotely to begin with due to the coronavirus situation and therefore unable to arrive on campus and in London in January.

We hope that even if you can’t join us immediately, that these articles get you excited for when you are able to join us here in London and give you a flavour of the amazing things to come.

Please note that due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic all clubs, theatres and large scale events such as London Pride have been temporarily closed or cancelled. We've mentioned Pride and the various nightlife spaces so that when restrictions do ease and it is safe to do so again, you'll already know the places you may want to check out. 

London is one of the most LGBT+ friendly cities in the world and it’s obvious to see why. From Soho’s bustling restaurants, to Vauxhall’s party scene, to the hip hangouts in and around east London, the city offers endless possibilities.

Gay Bloomsbury

Bloomsbury, where UCL is based, has a strong LGBT+ history. In the Victorian times, Bloomsbury was home to the Bloomsbury Group, a group of associated English writers, intellectuals, philosophers, an artists. Members even included famous individuals such as Virginia Woolf and Lytton Strachey. Virginia Woolf even lived in some of the houses facing Tavistock Square and Gordon Square. The houses she and other members of the Bloomsbury Group lived in are ones which have blue plaques on the front of the houses. Both Tavistock and Gordon Square are beautiful gardens where you and your friends can relax after viewing Virginia’s old home.

For those of you interested in literature, there is ‘Gays The Word’ which is a community centred book shop selling queer books and film located just outside the Brunswick Centre. It also hosts regular events and interestingly, is the only specifically lesbian and gay bookstore in the whole of the UK.

London Pride

Usually taking place on the first weekend of July, London Pride is a celebration of every part of London’s LGBT+ community aiming to raise awareness of LGBT+ issues and to campaign for genuine equality. With colourful parades and wild parties across the city, London becomes one big carnival. This year, as the event was cancelled due to the pandemic, there were a host of online spaces to celebrate pride in all it's forms.

Being queer at UCL

UCL's LGBT+ society is a network that supports the lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, intersex and/or asexual students during their time here at university. It also helps students interested in LGBT+ issues to meet like-minded people and groups in the university and across London. You can get involved by joining the society or simply just turning up to their many events across the year.

This year, due to coronavirus, many of their events will now be online but there may also be some socially distanced on-campus events to come as restrictions ease, so check out what they have to offer here.


Even though clubbing is currently not an option, here are some of the places you might want to check out when it's safe for clubs to open again. Some of these venues operate a sit down food and takeawy drinks service so check their websites to see how they're currently operating their spaces.

London is renowned for it’s nightlife and the LGBT+ scene is no different. Depending on your vibe, there will be bar, club, or pub that suits you. My top 3 places to check out are as follows…

Heaven – Opening in 1979, Heaven was London’s first gay super club. The music ranges from ‘80s and ‘90s cheese at G-A-Y Camp Attack to the more Top 40 charts and RnB on Saturdays. Tourists and the younger crowd love it but just about every LGBT Londoner will have had a night out in Heaven atleast once.

Dalston Superstore – During the day, this East End gem serves up brunch and burgers, (their Sunday Disco Brunch is a particular recommendation), but by night it serves up one of London’s best party spots. Nights at Superstore include Uncontrollable Urge on Wednesdays and Homostash on some Fridays. With an upstairs bar for pre-drinks and the basement for all your club action, Dalston Superstore has something for everyone.

Vauxhall Tavern – If staying in doesn’t quite cut it but clubs aren’t necessarily your thing, the Vauxhall Tavern, South London’s oldest surviving gay venue, could be for you. A pub most of the time, the Tavern also hosts cabaret shows, an avant garde club night called Duckie, and Sunday Social, a Sunday event with live shows and music.

Further resources

UCLU LGBT+ Students' Network - one of the UCLU Liberation Networks

UCLU Pride in Sport

UCL Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

External organisations

Bi.org:A resource listing a variety of community and support organisations for bisexual people.

Everyone Is Gay: an informative and light-hearted American website offering advice to LGBT+ youth.

Gendered Intelligence: A not-for-profit organisation aiming to increase understanding of gender diversity, which runs youth groups and a mentoring scheme for trans people aged 13-25.

To find out more, please visit our UCL LGBT+ students page.

Adam Vidler, Communications and Projects Adviser, UCL Student Support and Wellbeing