If you’re wondering what Brighton has to offer queer and lesbian travellers, you’re in the right place. In this guide, I provide a complete rundown of queer and lesbian Brighton, including the best bars, clubs, events, and things to do around the city.
The quirky seaside town of Brighton is known as the unofficial ‘gay capital’ of the UK. Famed for beautiful beaches and sticks of rock but also a liberal and open-minded attitude when it comes to diversity.
Brighton has been at the epi-centre of LGBTQ+ culture since the 1930s when it became a seaside escape for those living in London. Gay and lesbian bars spread throughout the city, attracting more people looking to explore their sexuality.
Today, queer & lesbian Brighton continues to thrive. It’s thought that 15% of locals identify as LGBTQ+, it hosts the largest Pride event in the UK, and its diverse queer scene attracts queer travellers from all over the world.
This article aims to arm you with everything you need to visit this unforgettable seaside destination. Find out why we believe Brighton to be one of the most LGBTQ-friendly cities in the world.
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Queer & Lesbian Brighton FAQs
LGBTQ+ Rights in Brighton
Like most places worldwide, the road to LGBTQ+ acceptance in the UK has been volatile. Historically, being gay clashed with the idea of being a ‘good’ Christian. As a result, acts of homosexuality between men were punishable by death.
Women were never subject to the same legal restrictions; however, they would often be punished by the law nonetheless.
Considering the liberal society the UK is today, it’s encouraging to see how dramatically LGBTQ+ rights have evolved. Acts of homosexuality got decriminalised in 1967, and same-sex marriage rights came into force in 2014.
Unfortunately, however, the trans community is currently under threat in the UK as ministers consider a change to the equality act which would redefine “$ex” to refer specifically to a person’s $ex at birth.
That would mean it would be legal for transgender folx to be banned from single-sex spaces and events. The trans community continue to face the brunt of our oppression, so please be a good ally and help push back against anti-trans laws.
LGBTQ+ Safety in Brighton
“Brighton & Hove is proud to be a friendly and welcoming city which encourages a large number of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender visitors. “
Like many of our queer friends, we visit Brighton regularly, and on no occasion have we felt even the slightest bit uncomfortable.
The influence of the LGBTQ community is prevalent on nearly every street, with rainbow flags, street art, and even beach huts adorning the town.
Of course, the usual risks attached to intimate relations or travel in general still apply. These LGBTQ+ Travel Safety Tips will help you look after yourself and your belongings.
Best Time to Visit Lesbian Brighton
Brighton is an appealing destination all year round; however, the warmest and driest time of the year is from May to September. That said, this is England, y’all, and the weather here is as unpredictable as our politics.
Thankfully, regardless if it’s rain or shine in Brighton, there is plenty to keep you entertained. July and August is the peak season, with hotel and travel prices rising accordingly.
You may wish to coincide your trip with Brighton Pride or other LGBTQ+ parties or events. Further down, you will find a breakdown of when these are to help you plan your trip.
Getting Around in Brighton
Getting around in Brighton is pretty straightforward. Brighton is a compact city, and if you stay in the centre, you should find that most attractions, including nightlife and restaurants, are accessible on foot.
Nonetheless, there is a reliable bus network should you need it, connecting you to all corners of the city.
If you’d prefer to take a taxi, there are taxi ranks dotted all over the city, including the train station. You can also hail unoccupied taxis down on the streets, which for some bizarre reason, is always rather fun. Oh, and Uber operate here as well.
Some might say that a guided tour is the best way to experience this gorgeous seaside city.
For example, this Brighton City Bike Tour will allow you to explore the coastal city’s main monuments.
We always use Get Your Guide when we book tours. They have an endless selection of tours in locations worldwide, including Brighton. Check them out!
Save Time and Book a Tour
For a more local experience, we recommend checking out the guided tours on Get Your Guide:
Where to Stay in Lesbian Brighton
You will struggle to find any hotels in Brighton that aren’t LGBTQ+-friendly. After all, it is illegal to discriminate against same-sex couples when renting a room in the UK.
However, we completely understand the need to feel accepted and treated equally. Not to mention being located close to the gay scene and mixing with like-minded people.
While there are no specific gay hotels in Brighton, by staying in the Kemp Town area you can almost guarantee you’ll be in the company of other LGBTQ+ travellers.
The Best of Queer & Lesbian Brighton
I’m sure you’re keen to learn more about what there is to see and do in this beautiful LGBTQ+-friendly seaside city.
Of course, being queer does not prevent us from wanting to explore like any other tourist. You’ll likely want to experience the Brighton highlights as well as the queer things to do in the city.
Since this is a guide to queer and lesbian Brighton, I won’t delve into the highlights here. Instead, I recommend checking out these top things to do in Brighton.
For now, let’s look at all the fun queer things to do in Brighton.
Looking for a rundown of the best queer and lesbian nightlife in Brighton? Keep scrolling to the following sections.
Queer Things to do in Brighton
Explore the Queer Neighbourhood
The first thing you’ll want to do upon arriving in lesbian Brighton is to take a stroll around the city’s gaybourhood – Kemptown.
Kemptown is at the heart of the LGBTQ+ scene in Brighton, occupying a considerable percentage of its gay and lesbian bars, clubs, and queer-owned businesses.
You’ll know when you’re in Kemptown, where rainbow flags adorn many of the bars, clubs, cafes, and B&Bs. It also has an uber-cool bohemian vibe, even more so than the rest of the city.
Stretching from the east of the city centre all the way to Brighton Marina, this community hub oozes fun and inclusivity. Discover quirky boutique stores, vintage vinyl shops, and the iconic Brighton flea market.
Piers & Queers Walking Tour
If you’re keen to learn more about the fascinating history behind LGBTQ+ culture in Brighton, we highly recommend the Piers & Queers Tour hosted by Only in Brighton.
Learn how the city earned its title of the ‘gay capital’ of Britain, alongside a 90-minute walking tour through the beach and city centre.
You’ll take in over 200 years of history, including Regency Dandies and 1950s queer life, as well as political activism and the lives of inspiring pioneers.
LGBTQ+ Public Art & Sculptures
Lesbian Brighton is home to several public art & sculpture pieces that celebrate the history of LGBTQ+ culture. See if you can spot them on your adventures around the city.
Kissing Coppers: Scribbled on the side of the iconic Prince Albert pub, the Kissing Policemen is a piece by the street art legend Banksy. The original was recently removed and sold to a collector, but a permanent copy remains of the two male policemen kissing.
The Kissing Wall: If you stroll along the Brighton promenade, you’ll likely encounter the famous kissing wall. The large aluminium column sits parallel to the seafront, showing six images of people kissing of all ages and sexualities.
Aids Memorial Structure: Situated in New Steine Gardens, the Aids Memorial structure is a bronze sculpture of two men soaring towards the sky. The statue causes the shadow of a ribbon on the ground, symbolising the world symbol for HIV & Aids awareness.
Chase the Rainbow Street Art
As I mentioned earlier, rainbow murals are all over the city of Brighton. Look out for them adorned on the sides of buildings or painted along the seafront, and you’ll even find rainbow-themed beach huts.
All make for great photo opportunities, and yes, we shamelessly took pictures with every single one!
Brighton Gay Beach
Brighton may not be one of the few sandy beaches close to London; however, it’s beautiful nonetheless. And wherever you lay your towel on its sprawling pebble coastline, you won’t be too far away from a fellow LGBTQ+ person.
However, for those interested, there is an unofficial gay beach in Brighton, approximately a 1-mile walk east of Brighton Pier towards Brighton Marina. It was Britain’s first naturist beach when it opened in the 1980s.
Just a word of warning, the coastline in Brighton is notorious for being dangerous due to high winds and steep shingle drop-offs. Please read this article on staying safe on Brighton’s beaches before attempting to get into the water.
Queer Comedy Show
The show welcomes a wonderfully diverse lineup featuring well-known LGBTQ+ comedy acts, “as-seen-on TV stars”, and stand-up legends.
Check out the website for show dates, line ups, and to book your ticket.
Proud Brighton Cabaret Show
A super entertaining experience I can recommend when visiting gay and lesbian Brighton is Proud Cabaret.
A legendary establishment amongst Brighton’s queer scene, you can enjoy fabulous world-class performers and an unforgettable evening of frolics and fun.
The venue hosts various events and parties, from drag bingo and bottomless brunches to cabaret shows and live performances.
During our most recent visit, we attended an evening of cabaret – a spectacular showstopper featuring acrobats, fire breathers, drag connoisseurs, and burlesque beauties.
Support Queer Owned Businesses
We always try to support queer-owned businesses when we travel, and thankfully, there are plenty of places in Brighton worthy of your hard-earned cash.
Here are some of our favourite LGBTQ+-owned businesses, exempt from the gay bars and clubs, which I discuss further down the article.
Proud Cabaret: The LGBTQ+ entertainment venue we talked about above.
The Feminist Bookshop: An independent bookshop, vegan coffee shop and events space.
The Queery: A queer bookshop, vegan cafe, and community space.
Semola: Queer-owned Italian restaurant serving delicious homemade pizza, pasta and desserts.
Arcobaleno: An LGBTQ+ Cafe and bar hosting an array of events from drag shows and burlesque to live music and quiz nights
Prowler: A famous gay retailer in the UK selling everything from clothing to toys and everything else imaginable.
Queer & Lesbian Events in Brighton
LGBTQ+ History Month (February)
As the name suggests, LGBTQ+ History Month addresses the evolution of LGBTQ+ culture through the ages. It also celebrates the lives and achievements of inspiring people in the LGBTQ+ community through film, art, discussions, and more. The event is nationwide, with plenty going on in Lesbian Brighton.
Brighton Bear Weekend (June)
An annual event geared towards bears, cubs, and their friends, Brighton Bear Weekend is one of the biggest events of its kind in the UK. Expect four days of fur fun in the sun, with cabarets, club nights, and so much more.
Brighton Trans Pride (July)
Reiterating the inclusiveness of this liberal city, Brighton was the first city in Europe to host a trans pride, which has been running now for several years.
Brighton Trans Pride, which puts the T first, is celebrated similarly to Pride. Expect a big party in the park, parades, club nights, and a wonderful arts programme.
Brighton Pride (August)
Arguably the best pride event in the UK and certainly the biggest, people travel from all around the world to take part in the 2-day festivities of Brighton Pride.
Celebrating all that is great about Brighton and its acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community, this is one you don’t want to miss!
Queer & Lesbian Nightlife in Brighton
The Brighton gay scene is iconic amidst British LGBTQ+ folk, and not without good reason.
Queer and Lesbian Brighton has something for everybody, regardless of which letter of the ever-growing acronym you identify with.
Brighton guarantees a good time for all, from all-night parties and chic cocktail bars to quirky cafes and steamy saunas.
That said, there is a lack of lesbian spaces in Brighton, but that’s not uncommon these days. Fortunately, there is still plenty of fun to be had in the plentiful inclusive bars and occasional lesbian parties.
You will find elements of the gay scene sprinkled all over Brighton; however, the most popular area is the Gay Village in the Kemptown gaybourhood.
Lesbian Bars in Brighton
Voted Best Women’s Bar, Velvet Jacks have kept Lesbian Brighton alive with their cosy and welcoming venue.
Weekly entertainment includes themed nights, quizzes, and live music. Then, of course, there’s the excellent cocktails and delicious food.
The Actors (Formerly The Marlborough Pub)
Somewhat of an institution in Lesbian Brighton, The Actors (formerly known as the Marlborough) has been associated with LGBTQ+ culture since the 1970s.
It started as the meeting place of the Sussex Gay Liberation Front, which university students formed as a safe space for the LGBTQ+ community to connect and explore their sexuality.
Today, the venue is part bar, part theatre, and every part gay, where it is especially popular with the transgender and lesbian communities.
The bar downstairs is relaxed and welcoming, while the theatre upstairs presents a range of cutting-edge LGBTQ+ cultural performances.
One of the most popular gay bars in Brighton, Legends is the place to go for your stereotypical gay night out.
It’s pleasant during the Summer, as you can enjoy a drink on the sprawling terrace overlooking the beach. By night, the bar pumps your cheesy queer anthems into the early hours, attracting a mixed, fun-loving LGBTQ+ crowd.
Also worth checking out is the Subterranean Basement Club, located downstairs.
Brighton’s oldest gay bar, Bulldog first opened its doors in the 1970s and has been catering to a mixed LGBTQ+ crowd ever since.
Entertainment includes weekly cabarets, karaoke, and live DJs, and it’s most popular on weekends when they are open until 3 am.
It’s a bit of a rough and ready venue, but if you can see past the uncleanliness, it’s great for a good laugh.
The little sister of the infamous Brighton gay nightclub Revenge, R-bar is the perfect venue for pre-party drinks and casual catch-ups!
The seafront venue recently underwent a refurbishment, and its new look is giving cotton candy retro and heavily inclusive vibes.
For some of the best drinks deals in the city, stop by for happy hour and get pleasantly tipsy while marvelling at the joyous Brighton Pier.
Charles Street Tap
The Queens of Craft! Charles Street Tap is a sizeable gay pub in the heart of the gay village.
They are not only famous for their craft beers fit for a queen but also their award-winning cabaret and extensive gin selection.
They are also proud of their traditional pub grub menu, which includes everything from burgers to pizzas and a traditional Sunday lunch.
During the day, relax with food and a beer. During the evening, party the night away. A great all-rounder!
Le Village is still relatively new to the queer and lesbian Brighton scene; however, it’s making quite a name for itself thanks to its nightly drag shows and delicious cocktails.
The star of the show arguably, however, is its bottomless brunches. Enjoy a fabulous Drag Cabaret Show alongside delicious Thai food and 90 minutes of bottomless drinks.
The Camelford Arms
Set within walking distance of the beach, The Camelford Arms is an award-winning pub in Brighton.
Amongst the LGBTQ+ community, it’s the spot for bears and their admirers; however, the great beer, cheap food, and chic ambience attract a mixed and alternative crowd.
The great value-for-money Sunday lunch is infamous and provides the perfect hangover cure after your weekend antics in Lesbian Brighton.
Lesbian Clubs in Brighton
The most famous gay club in Brighton and our personal favourite, Club Revenge is a happening nightclub with an incredible atmosphere.
Located a stone’s throw from the iconic palace pier, it goes to show how inclusive the city is. Queer venues are not forced to hide here; instead, this iconic gay club stands proud next to the city’s most recognisable attraction.
Dance the night away on the two state-of-the-art dance floors, or enjoy quiet drinks at the rooftop bar (summer only). Either way, you’re in for a fabulous night!
Not a gay club, but positively gay-friendly, Concorde2 is another of our favourite venues in Brighton.
Submerged within the Victorian arches of Brighton Seafront, the club attracts a mixed alternative crowd with its jam-packed events calendar of live bands and world-renowned DJs.
Despite the big acts appearing here, you can expect a relatively intimate affair, with the club’s capacity limited to 600 people.
Have Fun Exploring Gay & Lesbian Brighton?
That concludes our guide to queer and lesbian Brighton. We hope you enjoy your time in this quirky and queer-friendly city.
If you have any questions or feel we have missed anything, please reach out to us in the comment section below.
Stay adventurous and happy travels.