Kairos in Soho, who are a LGBT community organisation and charity, have been running a monthly tour around the sites and people of interest in the LGBT community in Soho. We went along last Sunday to see what we could learn, and generally have a wonderful time.
The tour starts at 2pm outside the Admiral Duncan pub, Old Compton Street W1D 4UB, which you may remember as having suffered a tragic and devastating bombing in 1999. Having rebuilt and come through that dreadful time, it is fitting that we start the tour at such a place of hope and strength.
The tour guide, Ric, who takes us on the tour, is friendly, welcoming and very informative. He helps create a good group dynamic from the off, so that everyone feels comfortable. He takes us around various sites connected to the famous, infamous and, to me, previously unknown LGBT people, who have made Soho a place that has been identified with our community over the course of the centuries.
It is a well researched tour, that allows you to find out about the history of some famous landmarks and also some seemingly nondescript buildings, which you may pass any time you happen to be in the area. LGBT history is so often hidden that it is vitally important that we are all kept informed about it; to gain a sense of where we have come from and how our community has progressed.
What is especially good about this tour is that it does not concentrate solely on the gay male history of Soho, important though it is, but lets you in on the transgendered and lesbian history, which for so long has been either ignored or unknown about. It also gives insights in to the origins of societies and why they were named as they were. Names you may recognise, and those you may not, are given some geographical context. Bars they had visited, places they performed and businesses they had run are all pointed out on the tour. Furthermore, their histories are explained, allowing you to have a sense of what happened in their lives, beyond their life in Soho.
I am not going to tell you the specific names and stories I learnt about, it is up to you to go and take the tour yourself! You will be supporting an organisation that has done, and continues to do so much for the LGBT community. With plenty of amusing, poignant and uplifting anecdotes, this tour is well worth taking, whether you are from the LGBT community or not. You will be able to inform and illuminate your friends on your visits to Soho, making your usual wanderings around town about more than just getting around from A-B. The tour is a lovely way to spend an afternoon and well worth the money.