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Out in the City

Posted 12 Jul 2014 by Sara Ann

 

Hello, hello, hello! 

When I was thinking for a topic for this month's blog I was feeling a bit stumped, what hadn't I written about before? And then I had an idea - I'll write the Big Gay Guide to London for any students coming to Kingston of the LGBTQ persuasion (or anyone who just wants to join in - we throw the best parties after all. Fact.)

So here we have it, the lowdown of the best gay friendly places to go and things to do in London.

Kingston university has a very active LGBTQ+ Society that holds events and socials throughout the year, as well as having a designated LGBT officer to represent any students who identify as this on campus and help lead campaigns. There is a dedicated LGBT forum in kingston as well and they hold meetings on campus.

But that's just what happens at KU, obviously you're living right next to London and the gay scene there is almost never ending (and it's not just Soho!) 

Pride in London 2014Let's start with the obvious - Pride in London. Loads of areas have annual pride parades, but London is one of the biggest and the best. I went to this year's and it was amazing! The streets were filled with colour, there was a rainbow zebra crossing, an open air concert in Trafalgar Square and winner of this years Eurovision, Conchita Wurst. There's a reason I like to refer to London Pride as 'Gay Christmas.' 

The weather could have been better I'll admit... But to be honest the drizzle just gave us an excuse to pull out the Rainbow umbrellas. And it didn't seem to deter the great Sir Ian Mckellan who walked along with Stonewall.

Sadly Pride happens but once a year, but somewhere that is open all year round is the infamous nightclub, HEAVEN. It holds regular club nights and gigs by bands (Mcfly once played there completely naked for reasons best known to themselves.) and what's probably the most interesting part for you guys is they do cheap student nights. HEAVEN can be found on Villiers street.

One for the ladies is Ruby Tuesdays at KuClub near Chinatown. It has a chocolate fountain and drinks from £1.50. Enough said.

The final nightclub venue on my list is Madame Jojo's in Soho- whilst not strictly a gay venue, this burlesque/jazz club is a favourite of mine and I really would have out it higher on my list if it hadn't been for notoriety and chocolate. It hosts a lot of different nights with tickets from as low as £10 standing or £15 seated. Drinks are slightly on the expensive side but you can't fault it for the atmosphere. Especially after the main show when tables and chairs are shoved aside and the dance floor is open for everyone to get down to good vintage music.Madame Jojo's

One of my favourite nights there is the monthly 'Burlesque Idol' competition - open to novices and more experienced burlesque dancers it is the X Factor of the burlesque world and it takes place on the last Friday of every month. Okay, I mostly go because I have a massive crush on the MC, but regular judge Tempest Rose is also a reason to go - I was lucky enough to take some burlesque classes from Tempest at the beginning of the year and she is brilliant as a performer and as a teacher. (I also came second in a best dressed contest last time I was here, but I don't like to brag about it...) dress code is burlesque/vintage/dress to impress.

Right - enough of the night life. Now I'd like to direct your attention to 'Gay's the Word', a charming little bookshop in Marchmont Street, not far from. King's Cross station. It's pioneering in that it was the UK's first and now only LGBT centred bookshop - vital in a world where a lot of bookstores don't have a dedicated LGBT section so you could end up meandering for hours trying to find what you want (not always a bad thing but still... Nice if you're in a hurry.) I love GTW for quite a few reasons - the layout of the shop is so easy to browse, the staff are all lovely, and you always meet some interesting people in there - last time I visited I came away with a book by David Levithan and some valuable advice for my dissertation from a lovely ex-English Literature professor who was in there puttering about by the Gay Times.

So there we have it - your potted guide to gay London. These are just four small glimpses into what's on offer in the capital for LGBT folk because I don't pretend that I'm your gay guru, there's no way I've done everything yet ;)

Below you'll find some useful people to follow on Twitter and some website links to help you further.
Have a gay day! :D 

Pride 2014 (Photo by Lauren Anderson)

Useful Links - 

On Twitter, Follow:

@LondonLGBTPride (For the latest Pride In London info)                             

@pinksingers (London's longest-running LGBT community choir)                             

@BuzzFeedLGBT (the gay section of student favourite Buzzfeed.)

@SaraFarizan (YA Writer who writes gay themed novels that aren't overtly gay, but are overtly awesome. Also she has the same name as me - triple points :D)

@rubbishles (AKA Sarah Westwood, another awesome Sarah, and my favourite columnist for DIVA magazine.)

@gaystheword (The twitter account for the bookshop mentioned above.)

Websites:

www.prideinlondon.org

www.stonewall.org.uk

www.madamejojos.com

www.heavennightclub-London.com

Obligatory "after school special" moment - if you or anyone you know is struggling with their sexuality, there are people out there to help you. Don't face it alone and don't be afraid to tell someone. The only things that should be kept in the closet are clothes and mothballs.

Xx 

 

There comes a time when every student realizes that one cannot live on pasta and one minute noodles for a prolonged period of time. That's when you start looking around a) for a job and b) for nice places where they serve warm and tasty food.

Now, I would love to share with you some of my favorite places, where I enjoy grabbing a bite. These are all located by the river and are 1-5 minutes away from each other. So you would always have a plan B. What is your excuse not to go?

Slug and Lettuce

This is where you'll find me every Monday (late) afternoon. How come? -Well, Slug and Lettuce offer a 50% off food every Monday and they always have some sort of a deal when you order two desserts. In addition, if you'd like to have a cocktail and catch up with a friend, Slug and Lettuce usually has deals on drinks. So, really, it is a sin not to eat there on Mondays! I have to say, the one thing, one of my friends is not particularly fascinated with is their hamburgers. Now, if you'd like a proper hamburger, that leads me to...

Byron Proper Hamburgers

This is the sort of place, for which superlatives like: 'The best burger on the high street' are used. Seriously though, if you want a good burger- that's the place to go! Their menu is extensive and they have a vegetarian option, which I've tried and it is amazing! The juicy burgers are served with a cucumber on the side plus a portion of either fries or a salad. The other thing Byron is famous for would be their milkshakes. You have a variety to choose from and you can order one to take away and stroll along the river with your friends. - Which is exactly what I did last Friday!

Strada

This has to be my favorite restaurant in Kingston. If you are facing Slug and Lettuce, Strada is located to the left of it. The restaurant itself is beautifully decorated and the atmosphere is great. This is the place where I celebrated my 20th birthday and where, a couple of months later, one of my flat mates celebrated hers. The prices are a bit on the higher end when you are living on a tight student budget but hey, why not treat yourself once in a while? It is worth even going for a glass of wine or a dessert.

Woody's

They have funky furniture and a quirky atmosphere. It is a buzzing place and the staff are lovely! Woody's located just by the river, if you take a stroll along the river from Slug and Lettuce in the direction of Surbiton. They offer everything from starters through salads to burgers and what not. Woody's simply must be visited!

Jamie's Italian

One thing - be prepared to queue. I can only say a couple of things for Jamie's Italian- they have good food but since it is always busy, I can't say that their service is amazing. You would (more than occasionally) find yourself having to wait for a table (unless you have booked one, which would be the smart thing to do) so if you've decided to go there on an impulse, I suggest you have a second choice as well.

La Tasca

This one, like Slug and Lettuce, is a chain. So, while you can enjoy a meal at one of the many busy La Tasca restaurants in central, you can also do that locally, in the much quieter Kingston. Great Spanish food, good atmosphere and a great service!

There is also the Riverside Vegetaria, Zizzi, Carluccio's, Wagamama and a variety of local pubs that you can pop in for a delicious Sunday roast. And these are just the places by the river! Imagine how many restaurants there are in the whole Kingston area. This I promise you: you won't get bored easily.

 

5. Surfing for the first time

I went to visit my friend in the south of France. I'd never surfed but jumped at a chance to have a go and it didn't disappoint. It takes a while but luckily my friend was a good teacher and by the end of the day, I managed to ride a wave!

Surfing for the first time

4. Midnight golf

I went to visit friends from home and we ended up playing golf up in the hills. I popped back to Folkestone for some summer loving with my friends. We spent about 2 hours golfing balls off the hills and having laugh.

Midnight golf in the hills

3. Barcelona

Sun, beach and a city what more could you want? A city every young person has to go to. I went after finishing first year and then travelled to the south of France with a friend. It was amazing and we met so many people.

Barcelona

2. My cousins came to London

They came for a whole three weeks all the way from Abu Dhabi. Last summer my cousins came to visit for three weeks, I got to take them around the city acting like a tour guide and showed them all the sights of London. London is beautiful in the summer.

Me being a London tour guide

1. Bestival

In 2012 I saw Stevie Wonder live and of course it was amazing. I loved Bestival so much went again in 2013. It's such a great vibe because everyone is so friendly. I lost my camera and someone handed it in. I've never been so happy!

Having a great time at Bestival!

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