Look, there’s no denying that we love London. Everybody who’s been reading our blogs knows this. And whether you like London or not, you can’t deny: the city has so much to offer. From fashion, to fancy eateries, to having enough iconic landmarks to keep you entertained until the cows come home, there’s certainly a lot to love about London.
But saying that, we get that L-town may not be to everyone’s taste (to each their own, of course!). Plus this time, we’re not here to harp on about how wonderful our nation’s capital is (for once). This time, we’re heading back to our favourite coastal city in the UK.
Not sure where we’re on about? Let us paint you a word picture. It’s got colourful houses, quaint cobbled streets, stunning cliffs, gorgeous stony beaches, 8 million tourists per year, and it’s home to some of the biggest vloggers in the entire world. Have you guessed it?! No?! We’re on about the wonderful city of Brighton.
Brighton is an awesome city for multiple reasons. It’s chock-full of sunshine, liberalism, beaches, diversity, vintage shops, music, art and delicious vegan food. But another awesome thing about Brighton? It’s one of Europe’s best-known “gay cities”, and has been long-established as a UK hub for LGBTQ community. It’s even been argued as being the gay capital of Europe!
No matter who you are, where you’ve been, what your preferences are, how you identify, or what hardships you’ve faced in the past, know this. Brighton is a welcoming, safe place for any member of the rainbow community. Don’t believe us? Well, in the true Proud fashion, we’ve got the fun LGBTQ facts about Brighton to prove it.
Fun fact: Brighton has the largest number of civil unions in the UK, and the 2011 consensus displayed that 3.1% of Brighton’s legal partnerships were civil partnerships! Which is laymen’s terms, is over 2346 people!
This is pretty great considering civil partnerships were only made legal in the UK since 2004. Another Brighton fun fact: B-town has one of the largest Pride parades in the UK (second to London) and Brighton’s 2022 Pride parade saw a whopping 500,000 people walking in solidarity! Talk about being the “gay capital” of Europe!
Although this is quite a ways behind the staggering 4 million people at New York’s 2022 Pride march, half a million rainbow folks down at Brighton seaside is huge for the LGBTQ community! Hooray!
Another fun fact: more than 10% of over 16 year old’s in Brighton identify as LGBTQ, which is one of the highest figures of any city on the entire planet! And one last fun fact: Brighton’s first ever gay bar, The Bulldog, opened back in 1979: and until its unfortunate closure, it was the “go-to” place for Brighton-based LGBTQ folks.
Wait. We at Proud Cabaret love a joke and a fun fact as much as the next. But we need to get serious for a second. We know, we know – not a statement you hear from the country’s most flamboyant and daring cabaret company. But listen.
Our blogs are usually a barrel of laughs. But in life, the need for social inclusion is no joke. What do we mean? The desire to be accepted, welcomed, feel safe, and feel like you belong somewhere is ingrained within every single one of us. It’s part of what makes us human.
And this is rings true more than ever for members of the LGBTQ community. For decades (scratch that, centuries), queer folks have been discriminated against, bullied, left out, ridiculed, overlooked and far worse. And even in 2023 when attitudes towards the LGBTQ community has positively changed (we still have a ways to go), finding a safe and inclusive place to live is still just as important today as it was a few decades ago.
Not only that – as well as a safe area to live, it’s vital for queer people to know about local the LGBTQ friendly bars in their neighbourhood. Whether you want to chat, to decompress with a glass of wine in hand, to get wind of a cool new place to take your date, or to simply meet new likeminded rainbow folks, it’s vital to have the lowdown on all the LGBTQ-friendly spots a city has to offer.
Speaking of, that’s where we come in. We’ve done some deep research and found the friendliest, coolest and best LGBTBQ bars in Brighton so you don’t have to get lost in B-town’s cobbled lanes trying to find them yourself. Whether you’re in Brighton and want to dance all night, to drink all day, or natter with your pal until the cows come home, this blog is for you. So check out our top picks for the best gay bars Brighton can offer for the LGBTQ+ community below.
Are we kicking off our top gay bars in Brighton list with our very own venue? Yes, yes we are. Some might say it’s hubristic of us to start by shouting out our venue. But it’s informative, really. Because Proud Cabaret Brighton just so happens to be one of the top LGBTQ-spots in the whole of B-town. Cabaret world has long-been a haven for the “misfits”, “rejects”, “weirdos” and “outsiders”. AKA, our kind of people.
Society has described cabaret in the past as the “underbelly” of the theatre world: but to us, cabaret is synonymous for being inclusive, inviting and welcoming to absolutely everybody. Plus, cabaret has been a queer space for decades past.
We like to joke around, but in all seriousness, Proud Cabaret Brighton places great importance in being a safe, welcoming space for all members of the rainbow community.
Plus we’ve got some brilliant queer-centered musical bingo nights, brunches and fun cabaret shows going on at the moment that celebrate all things LGBTQ. You can find some more information about this here. So next time you’re in cool Kemptown (Brighton’s gay village), come check us out! Let’s just say the judges of RuPaul’s Drag Race would explode with uncontrollable cackles if they ever saw a Proud Brighton Cabaret!
How could we chat about Brighton LGBTQ bars without shouting out Bar Revenge? Bar Revenge, AKA Club Revenge, is found round the corner from Charles Street and is one of the best gay clubs Brighton has in the city. It’s got Y2K-esque décor (who doesn’t love that?!) and a rooftop that’s buzzing no matter what time of year it is.
And Revenge has events going on almost every night. From DJ sets on the weekend to theme nights, to Drag nights, and a “big queer quiz” every Monday, Bar Revenge is not one to be missed. Oh, and it’s a nightclub, too! Score!
Do you like show tunes? Then you will love Bar Broadway. The cute little bar is on Steine Street and is, you guessed it, the place if you want to sing Broadway hits from the top of your lungs. Alexa, play Somewhere Over The Rainbow. And it got completely refurbished last year, so make sure to check out the new and improved Bar Broadway!
Who doesn’t like a sea view? Legends Bar is on Marine Parade – and thanks to its gorgeous sea-facing view, it’s always buzzing with bar-hoppers and lots of sunshine. So you can gaze out into the ocean whilst you sip on a delicious cocktail – what’s not to like?
Legends Bar recently got refurbished and boasts chic wood-panelled interiors with a charming bar and seating area. The bar raises the roof at its weekly queer events like the “Friday Night Shift” DJ set, and also offers space for a chilled afternoon drink by the sea. AKA, the best of both worlds!
This one is a little different, but we love that. Ironwork Studios is just a 10 minute walk from the Royal Pavilion and is truly one of the best gay venues in Brighton. Located on Cheapside, the event space borders Brighton’s famous North Laine quarter. And not only one of the best LGBTQ performances spaces and TV studios in town, it’s owned by none other than Brighton Pride!
Ironworks boasts a spectacular cast of artsy folks including musicians, poets, comedians a drag queens. It hosts open mic nights like Stephen Grant’s Forge Comedy (one of Brighton’s best comedy nights), live music nights and other live entertainment.
The venue works closely with multiple local charities such as the Pride Central Development Fund, The Pride Community Foundation and the Brighton Rainbow fund to ensure that Brighton’s LGBTQ youth are safe, taken care of, and included.
If you’re familiar with Brighton’s gay scene, you’ll know about Charles Street Tap. And if not, here’s a cheeky recommendation. Self described as “The Queen of Craft”, Charles Street Tap has been a staple in Brighton gay village for 20 years now!
The bar is famed for creating the tastiest craft beers and freshest stoned baked pizzas in town, and has an impressive array of rare gins. And it hosts quiz nights and buzzing DJ sets! Alexa, play Pizza by Martin Garrix.
If you like Thai food, you’ll love Lé Village. Lé Village is right in the middle of St. James’s Street and is one of Brighton’s biggest and best spots for cocktails and you guessed it – Thai cuisine. And it’s got a lovely roof terrace which is perfect for some good old fashioned people watching!
Calling all of Brighton’s Bears! Although The Camelford Arms welcomes a mixed crowd of over thirties, it’s one of the classic Brighton gay bars. Brighton’s Kemptown (the main gay village) has a plethora of LGBT-community-friendly bars, and The Camelford Arms is one of them. Folks can find a cosy double fireplace and Moroccan themed patio at the back of the venue. Not only that, it serves tasty pub grub a-plenty and is mere minutes away from the iconic Brighton seafront! Double yay!
Pardon the pun, but are you ready to take Centre Stage? Doing exactly what it says on the tin, Centre Stage is a live music venue bursting with show tunes and specialises in music and film themed party nights and live music events. Although it’s predominantly aimed at gay men, all other guys, gals and non-binary pals are more than welcome at this seafront bar!
Centre Stage was formerly The Amsterdam Hotel and has recently undergone a top to bottom refurbishment. Now, guests can enjoy a gorgeous sea view from their new and improved front-facing terrace. The Amsterdam was a staple in Brighton’s seafront gay bars, so we’re sure that Centre Stage is no different!
Now here’s a welcoming LGBT pub that’s rich in queer history (and delicious pizza). The venue is situated under the famous Marlborough Hotel, which Brightonians describe as one of the friendliest “gay hotels”. Plus, the venue has a rich history of championing LGBTQ productions and shining a light on local queer artists across decades past.
The Actors relaunched a couple of years ago and has a really warm and welcoming atmosphere. Despite the name, there is no unnecessary drama! Only deep, dark colourways, wooden panelling and good vibes. And if you’re part of a gay couple looking for LGBT friendly establishments to stay in, hit up The Marlborough!
Next on our list is The Marine Tavern. The Marine Tavern one of Brighton’s tiny but mighty gay pubs that sits on Broad Street in Kemptown (the gay-friendly neighbourhood in Brighton). Fun fact: it’s actually the smallest gay pub in Brighton! The pub holds themed party nights each week that bring in a mixed crowd of nice folks. The owners and staff are so sweet and give a warm welcome to anybody who pops in for a drink! Now that’s what we love to hear.
Ciao, bella! And welcome to Arcobaleno. Arcobaleno is the Italian word for rainbow (how sweet is that?!), and it opened in June 2022, so its a little gaybie on the Brighton gay scene. It’s got a luxuriously-designed bar and a large alfresco dining area that is amazing during the summertime. It also does monthly quiz nights – so make sure you’re queer pop culture knowledge is up to scratch before coming to Arcobaleno! Oh, and it does yummy cocktails. Aperol Spritz, anyone?
Affinity Bar has worn a few hats over the years. It was originally named Poison Ivy, then it got renamed to Infinity Bar, until the owners finally settled on Affinity Bar. It’s open from 12pm to 12am, every single day. And calling all karaoke lovers! This bar’s for you – it’s often throwing buzzing karaoke nights drawing in a fun mixed crowd of queer and straight folks alike!
The Prestonville Arms is a welcoming LGBT pub that has been newly acquired by a lovely gay couple. Despite the fact that it’s closed on Mondays, it is positively popping off every other night of the week! And it’s got a gorgeous open fire! Although it is a gay-friendly space, it’s welcoming to absolutely every walk of life. And like pretty much every gay bar in Brighton, the vibes are immaculate.
Next up we’ve got The Grosvenor Bar. And if you’re talking about gay Brighton, you’d be silly not to shout out The Grosvenor. The venue has a charming modern interior with an open fire, and is absolutely plastered with cute fairy lights to set the mood. The Grosvenor is also a few minutes away from Brighton’s iconic stoney beach, so you can have a midnight walk on the beach after a fabulous night full of delicious drinks and banging tunes!
The Zone Bar is next on our list. It’s been a go-to in Brighton’s gay scene for a while and is greatly valued by the local community. The Zone Bar maintains a friendly but “no-attitude” policy. Every weekend, The Zone Bar hosts fantastic queer entertainment and live acts that pull in a huge mixed crowd time after time. The Zone Bar is located on St James’s Street, and is just a 7 minute walk away from Brighton beach!
Craving a game of pool? Doctor Brighton’s has the prescription. Doctor Brighton’s is a seafront pub and is a Brighton institution due to being one of the longest-running gay bars in the area. The venue has all the ingredients of a quintessential British pub. Charming wooden floors, budget-friendly drinks, deep, comfortable sofas, pool tables.
And the best part? It’s got a wonderful sea view. So if you’re looking for a mid-week hangout spot for a game of pool and a cheeky drink or two, head over to Doctor Brighton’s. Plus on the weekends their resident DJ’s set the dance floor on fire with head-banging tunage. Score!
So there you have it, folks. Proud Cabaret’s top picks for the best LGBTQ bars in Brighton. So the next time you’re walking the Brighton Lanes, you’ll know where to go for a little dose of rainbow. Let us leave you with one last thing – happy bar hopping, folks!