An American Lesbian In London

By Denise Warner
When I moved to London from Florida in 2011, I’ll admit, I was a little nervous…about EVERYTHING but most of all I was nervous about being able to assimilate into the lesbian community. Would it be difficult? Would there be groups? Would there be organisations, would there be clubs, events? Luckily, the answer is yes to all.
I was immediately blown away about just how many things are going on all the time for lesbians. I was actually overwhelmed! Thankfully, I found a website that seemed to, literally, organise my thoughts for me. Katie and Naomi Bennett-Hall were one of the first couples I began communicating with before I even moved here. They were just launching their website Planet London as I was moving to the U.K. and were so very helpful. This website is a comprehensive guide to just about everything having to do with lesbians in London. Not only do they have the most updated calendar of events, they also have added bonus features such as a DJ Guide, book reviews, artist spotlights, and festival listings. I jumped right in and partnered up with the girls for The Big Gay Lifestyle Show in downtown London (The Grand Connaught Rooms), which was a great way to meet LGBT business owners, entertainers and entrepreneurs. I was able to actually meet the girls from g3 Magazine, Square Peg Media, Diversity Role Models, Diva Magazine, and author’s VG Lee, Rose Collis and DJ Connell, whom I had been following via social media sites.
After attending the show, where I learned about so many different LGBT events, I attended Polari, a gay author salon-style evening held at South Bank Centre on the Thames, for a monthly gathering of LGBT authors who read from their their work for an intimate audience. The evening is organised and hosted by successful author Paul Burston, who dazzles in themed fashion, and a biting sense of humour, selecting authors that are not only entertaining, and thought provoking but accessible after the readings to meet and discuss their projects.
I had also put myself on a series of mailing lists to stay “in the know” – and happened across The Glass Bar Events newsletter by Elaine Mackenzie. Elaine has been putting on a diverse series of events for women across London since 1995 like POUT, FLAUNT, Paperback Love, Hey Soiree, Girl Meets Girl Wine Tasting & Dating, and more. Selecting perfect venues, full of atmosphere, easily accessible, tucked in trendy hot spots like Leicester Square and Soho that range from comfortable pubs (The Square Pig), posh hotels (Radisson Edwardian Kenilworth Hotel-Creation Bar) and private club rooms (Yager Bar Club Room).
Lounge Night, by promoter Christine Townsend is another popular women’s evening, this pop-up party was one of the first events I attended after just arriving in London. Held high above gorgeous Leicester Square in a penthouse suite, complete with wrap around balcony to show off views of Big Ben and the Thames, this was networking, drinking and dancing with some of the U.K.’s hottest women. Although, the venues change, the following continues with a great evening of music & friends and quite possibly a hook-up, if you’re lucky.
lfest
No matter where I am, one thing I know about lesbians is that they LOVE to camp- the U.K. is no different. One of the biggest and best lesbian camping weekends is L Fest, held in northern England (Uttoxeter Race Course, to be exact) every July. The festival is on it’s 3rd year, organised by the innovative, inspiring Cindy Edwards, with a massive following and volunteer crew. I’ve been at all three L Fest events, and each year the attendance grows-this year, a whopping 2,000 women gathered for the music of local girl bands, like GreyMatter, Eeek and Lazy Hammock as well as headliners, BETTY, from the States. The festival itself offers 3 days of music, comedy, arts, authors, workshops and cinema along with games, fire pit acoustic music sessions, contests, food, market stalls, and of course, tons of camping! Bring your kids-there is child care and of course, it’s pet-friendly so don’t forget your pups! Women couples, singles, families from all over England plus Denmark, Ireland, Germany and The States arrived ready for fun & the great outdoors. The award winning festival returns in 2014 and also have expanded to mini resort destination festivals (L Fest Del Mar, Spain in May) and a major Christmas event, L Festive in Birmingham, plus it’s spin-off group “L Fest Solo’s” host events all over for singles, along with the L Fest Crew doing pop-up parties across the UK all year round.
Brighton Beach, about an hour or so (by train) south of London is another hot spot for the queer girl abroad. With a rocking gay scene, complete with a beach, a pier full of rides and arcade atmosphere, the winding streets and lanes are full of adorable shops, a variety of cafes, hotels and B & B’s. For my 2nd wedding anniversary, my wife and I stayed at an LGBT bed & breakfast called The Seabreeze right near the water, sipped Prosecco in our lovely room, strolled to a near by Italian restaurant for wine & pasta, and felt completely comfortable and at ease with ourselves, holding hands, dining together. We even found a sex toy store with a vivacious, friendly sales girl who we shared a laugh with. The Marlborough Pub on Prince Street is a renowned lesbian pub, with a pool table, sofa’s, and homey feel to it. Upstairs is a small performance space The Pink Fringe Theatre, that is constantly full and always has shows & events.
See? Nothing to fear! Did I assimilate? Oh, DID I EVER! I actually feel like I’ve been here forever with new friends, faces, and fun, it’s been an easy transition and made my move to the U.K. better than I could have imagined.
 
denise 150Denise co-hosts “The Lesbian Lounge” podcast powered by ReallyWow Productions and MyLesbianRadio.com, available on iTunes and writes for SHE Magazine. She is a self proclaimed laundry goddess and has the sense of humour similar to that of a 12 year old boy.