As part of the Time Out Reader Takeover, Johan Palme celebrates London's inclusive LGBT+ scene with his pick of the best upcoming queer events in the city
Who could have guessed the queer scene in London would ever be as vibrant as it is right now? With escalating property prices and the worrying closure of historically important venues such as The Black Cap and The Joiners Arms, the cognoscenti predicted everyone would pack up and head to Bristol, Berlin or Brighton. And yet newer venues including The Glory and Her Upstairs are picking up the slack, and the scene shows every sign of growing instead of petering out. Old events are finding new homes and new nights keep springing up, more groundbreaking, challenging and exciting than ever. Here are some of the events I’m looking forward to in the next few weeks.
For those of us who found the big Queer British Art exhibition at Tate Britain a toothless disappointment, artist Sadie Lee’s Queer Perspectives night at the National Portrait Gallery provides an exhilarating, sharp and inventive alternative. Thursday is the tenth anniversary of the event and promises a range of fantastic-sounding activities from queer legal history talks to hirsute speed dating.
National Portrait Gallery. Thu Nov 9, 6pm. Free.
One of queer London’s best kept secrets takes a bold step out of a dingy Haggerston basement and onto the full-size Ovalhouse theatre stage. Non Binary Cabaret collects deep, heartfelt personal stories of gender, transition and queer life, and throws them up onto the stage as everything from burqa burlesque to trans-cruising tango and tortured, multi-gendered drag lipsync.
Ovalhouse. Fri Nov 10, 7.30pm. £12.
For many years, the extravagant costume balls organised by the now dormant Magic Theatre provided a glamorous and friendly environment for playing with gender and alter-egos. Carrying on the torch in the same venue – the glorious Rivoli Ballroom – The Glitter Ball is a charity extravaganza that honours the era-defining legacy of London cross-dressing, without which we’d never be where we are now.
Rivoli Ballroom. Sat Nov 11, 8pm. £14-£16.
The younger, brasher and hotter cousin of BFI Flare, Fringe! promises to take over east London with some of the most out-there and relevant queer cinema around (expect less soppy socio-realistic love stories and more psychedelic sci-fi hardcore pornography). Also on the bill are club nights, a zines and comics fair, hard-hitting panel discussions and a complete absence of simple, rainbow-flag-draped answers.
Various venues. Tues Nov 14 – Sun Nov 19. Prices vary.
Could anything be more symbolic of the gentrification-led destruction of queer venues than staging an ersatz panto version of an East End pub, right in the middle of Oxford Street? It’s no surprise that the people behind this genius move are Sink the Pink, who’ve spent years injecting radical, decadent queerness and extravagant body-horror freakery into seemingly conventional club-kid culture.
Selfridges. Wed Nov 15. £25.
Meet the writer
Name Johan Palme
From Stroud Green
‘Subtitler by day and occasional festival programmer by night, Johan moved to London from Stockholm specifically for the amazing queer scene.’
Filling up your social calendar? We have a few ideas for you.