To Hull and back: butt of ignorant snobby jokes for far too long, England's eighth
largest city at last comes out fighting - gay scene at the very helm - says
OutUK's Adrian Gillan.
"Thought that? Well think this!" That's the simple spunky premise of perhaps the
best gay marketing campaign the UK has ever seen, surely set to become a benchmark
and industry standard as to how a gay scene can promote and expand itself - like
some gorgeous puppy underdog lapping at your ears.
The queer community in Hull has courageously united to subvert and then turn to their
supreme gay advantage recent "surveys" whose slack, sloppy and cowardly authors -
who really should get out more and rely less on prejudice and cliché - have sought
to portray the city as "the worst place to live in the UK".
The local gay scene -
with official council backing - has rallied at the helm to reposition Hull as the
modern, trendy, inclusive, cosmopolitan place to live and visit that it truly is.
Their annual Pride in Hull welcomes 50,000 people to the annual party which is a fifth of
the population of the entire city!
One of Hull's whirlwinds of energy
Out all connotations with "dull", "hell" and flaking hulls of ships sawing through
mudflats; in the rejuvenated waterfront and vibrant, rapidly expanding queer quarter
powered by hoards of horny locals and Uni students fast flocking to this "Venice of the north".
So does gay Hull live up to its new-found hype? Put simply: "yes" - and all detractors
should either come up or shut up.
BED & GRUB
Perched on the same handsome square as Hull's elegant New Theatre, the family-run
Kingston Theatre Hotel is utterly gay-friendly and just yards from much of the
queer action. Suitably centred, pop into eminently gay-friendly historical pub
The Mission on Posterngate in the Old Town for a quick jar or light grub throughout
the day in atmospheric, stained-glass surroundings once used by seamen seeking succour
and a warm, heart-felt passage.
Tourist attractions in the city include The Hull People's Memorial, the historic Old Town
and Museum Quarter, Hull Marina and The Deep, a city landmark. The redevelopment of one of Hull's
main thoroughfares Ferensway featured the opening of St Stephen's Hull and the new Hull
Truck Theatre. Spectator sports include Championship League football and Super League Rugby.
The River Hull in the city centre |
PUBS & BARS
To begin at the beginning: Frankie's Vauxhall Tavern off Clive Sullivan Way just south
west of centre, to be precise. Lorded over by the eponymous Frankie - who essentially
acts as comedy partner to all live drags on stage - this comfy, traditional and
friendly bar with jukebox and pool table is crammed with unusual paraphernalia,
artefacts and personalities accrued over decades that'd fail to exhaust any roving eye.
Due north on Spring Bank, the recently re-launched Polar Bear Music Club is the region's only serious music
bar. This used to be a bar for the girls and it attracted lots of mischievous gay male hags in tow, but now it welcomes everyone.
The focus is on the music they play with some well known local DJs and Special Guests in this listed building with
its curvy, tiled bar and domed stained-glass ceiling. Worth a night out whether it's to sit and
sip and stare or move it something silly on the brimming dance floor.
Pride in Hull is a family friendly LGBT+ orientated annual event held in Hull on the penultimate Saturday of July.
It is a festival that welcomes everyone in the community. Many organisations who support the LGBT+ community
attend with stands and stalls through out the event. Pride is the second biggest cultural event in Hull and the biggest
free Pride event in the whole of the UK. Quite an achievement.
Next, stagger round the block to Fuel open seven nights a week 'til 2am, extending
to 6am as an "Afterparty" come weekends. The main cavernous room has seating at
one end and podia at the other where Hull's finest are egged into action by top DJs
and live drummers pounding away up on the lengthy bar. Cool off in the spacious,
buzzing courtyard round the back come summer before diving back into the heaving
swelter within as nights hot up.
Fuel - One of Hull's best venues.
Propaganda located opposite St Stephens brings a late night bar to Hull City Centre.
After a stunning refurbishment the venue was transformed into a deliciously elegant lounge bar
which by day appeals to the eye. Then when the sun goes down it takes on the guise of a fun,
flirtation late night club-bar, with Drag DJs every night of the week!
FUN WITHOUT END
Still on the prowl? Manhole @ HU9 are the gay events at Hull's swingers venue with a Hot Tub and Sauna, Dungeon,
Glory Hole, Private Room, Pool Table and Bar. They host Male Only events every Tuesday and Sunday, with Bisexual events on Wednesdays. There are
one-off naked and teasing events too, and the rest of time it's a venue for bisexual and straight swingers. So if not the sauna
then there's always the option to check out by the lake in lovely Pearson Park after dark, a short mile northwest of centre.
"London's little sister", Hull may well have the fastest growing gay scene in the UK,
but it's not so huge that it's forgotten how to be warm and friendly. Like a short novel
you can scarce put down, you'll come away, reluctantly, with glowing memories of the
dozens of plucky, feisty characters who inhabit it - people like: your host at The Tavern,
Frankie; delightful trans-tart and entertainer, Sionice; big burly bouncer, Adrian; cute young
redhead wall-flower, yet another Adrian; blithe spirit Gavin who miraculously transforms
into the world's most glamorous door whore; and Carlton, one of Hull's whirlwinds
of energy and ideas behind much of the city's wonderful gay expansion!
So wipe that smirk off your face and hitch it to Hull now!
Hull is a mere 2¾ hours from London
by Hull Trains
THE LITTLE BLACK BOOK
Frankie's Vauxhall Tavern (1 Hessle Road, Clive Sullivan Way; T: 01482 320 340)
Fuel (6 Baker Street; T: 01482 228 436; Website)
Kingston Theatre Hotel (1-2 Kingston Square; T: 01482 225 828; Website)
Manhole @ HU9 (Club HU9, 142 Witham; facebook)
The Mission (Posterngate; T: 01482 221 751)
Polar Bear Music Club (229 Spring Bank; T: 01482 323 959; Website)
Pride in Hull (City Centre in July each year; Website)
Propaganda (Ferensway, Hull HU1 3UN; Website)
Revised December 2021