London's the Unofficial Gay Capital of Europe, but Do You Want to Go?

Saturday August 27, 2022
Originally published on August 24, 2022

London's the Unofficial Gay Capital of Europe, but Do You Want to Go?
  (Source:Getty Images)

Around the western world, gay culture is slowly becoming more prominent, which means that people who identify as a part of the group can find even more welcoming destinations. Of course, one never has to plan their destinations based on their sexual preferences — with the exception of avoiding particularly anti places — but it's comforting to know where you stand.

London has long been an American tourist hotspot, with the lack of a language barrier being just one of its many appealing factors. For the gay community of the US, it has yet another level of attraction, being commonly known as the unofficial gay capital of Europe. It has a huge LGBT community, and a large chunk of London is known for its prevalence of LGBT venues, but do you want to go? Here are some ways to find out.

Why London is Known as the Unofficial Gay Capital

London has a long history with the LGBT community, with gay Londoners gravitating to Soho and the West End through the late 1800s and onwards. Oscar Wilde famously frequented Soho, but it wasn't just a place for the wealthy people of the UK. Shortly before the start of the first World War, Heddon Street saw the first gay bar open in the form of the performance club, Cave of the Golden Calf.

From these roots, the gay community found a home in London. While Soho is still very much the focal point of the LGBT community in the capital city, the glory of London is that Soho isn't the only place to enjoy the culture. The Royal Vauxhall Tavern is well-known as a more relaxed venue, counter to most of the popular spots in Soho, while the edgy crowd tends to converge on The Glory and its nearby clubs in the east of the city.

The community is vast and lively in London, easily matching or besting any others found on the continent. Of course, London being so popular among tourists certainly helps to build the diversity and excitement of any given night in Soho.

London's Gone Live, So Check It Out Before You Go

Over the last few years, the city of London and its biggest attractions have gone all-in on advertising itself as an idyllic place to visit online. Front and center of the campaigns are the live and virtual tours of key locations and hotspots. This is even to the extent that the London Transport Museum offers virtual internet tours with expert guides via Zoom.

Some of the biggest nightlife hotspots have also infused live streaming technology into their online platforms to enhance their accessibility. You can see this most prominently demonstrated with The Hippodrome Casino. On its website, you can play hundreds of online casino games, but alongside these are also the incredibly advanced live online roulette games that can be played via your device but actually take place in real-time in the venue itself. So, you try out the casino experience without even leaving your sofa.

This obsession with live and virtual content to showcase London also expands to the center of LGBT culture in the UK, Soho. London Walks offers the "Snapshot of Soho — Virtual Tour," which takes you on a virtual walk to uncover the history of the most outrageous district of the West End. It's got a radical history, even if the populous is known for its mild manners, and it's well worth exploring before a potential visit.

Before you book your tickets to Old Blighty, see if London's for you via its many virtual, live, and online experiences.