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.

In the VIP Room at Affinity.
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.


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. Or for classy grub in equally unique surroundings, try Venn a few short streets away - Hull's only Michelin-rated restaurant plus brasserie and bar, serving modern British cuisine in a trendy yet minimalist setting.


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, recently re-launched Polar Bear is the region's only girl bar. Previously having to bus it to Leeds or stay in and simper into their real ale six-packs, now horny girls - mischievous gay male hags in tow - flock to this listed interior with curvy, tiled bar and domed stained-glass ceiling, whether to sit and sip and stare or move it something silly on the brimming dance floor.


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!


Still on the prowl? Neptune Sauna on the old High Street is an all-male "health club" with jacuzzi, steam room, sauna cabin and TV lounge whose cleansing eucalyptus scent draws in droves from miles around; or 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, VIP-room fixture and whirlwind 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

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
The Mission (Posterngate; T: 01482 221 751)
Neptune Sauna (43 High Street; T: 01482 620 775)
Polar Bear (229 Spring Bank; T: 01482 323 959) Website
Propaganda (Ferensway, Hull HU1 3UN) Website
Venn (21 Scale Lane; T: 01482 224 004)

Revised March 2016


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