My Pride of Place
Jane Czyzselska, Editor of Diva magazine
Rockshots 2 in Leeds, on Lower Briggate and a stone's throw from Leeds' present day Gay Village…I remember the dingy black cave with great affection as it was the first ever gay club I went to, shortly after I came out in the late 1980s. I went on my own and couldn't believe there were so many lesbians who were, in the safety of it's dark corners, being gayer than I'd ever seen women dare to be in public. It was thrilling and frightening in equal measure. I had some memorable times there.
Asifa Lahore, the UK's first out Muslim drag queen
I first went to Club Kali in 2005 in my early 20s. It was the first place where I felt totally comfortable and didn't feel the need to justify identifying as Gay, Muslim, British and Asian. Everyone there understood and accepted the facets of identity of race, creed and nationality that the South Asian LGBT community has to deal with in Britain. It was the most liberating experience!
Yotam Ottolenghi, cookery writer and chef
About 15 years ago, for an extra bit of cash to top my meager salary as a pastry chef, I worked in one of the buildings on the Square for a company that specialised in creating subtitles for films. My job was proofreading the Hebrew subtitles for classical American films, mainly from the '50s and 60s’: A Streetcar Named Desire with the magnificent Brando springs to mind. After hours in a dark viewing room I'd go out to the late afternoon sun and join the dozens of young men, and few women, worshiping the warm rays, but particularly themselves, working on the ultimate tan whilst flirting with anybody and everybody. Soho Square has been the ultimate outdoor sunbed for at least a couple of generations of the London gay community.
My pride of place is no longer there but can be roughly located as the ticket hall of Tottenham Court Road's new, cross rail ticket hall. On that site lived Ghetto - home of alternative queer London in the early 00's - it was the first nightclub I went to, the first place I experimented with dressing up and its where I cut my teeth as a performer.
Graham Norton, is a television and radio presenter, comedian, and actor
My choice is the Royal Vauxhall Tavern. At a time when gay men weren’t visible in the community at large, this place, with its talent shows and sports days, gave us our very own community.