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Royal Vauxhall Tavern Becomes England's First LGBT Historic Site

Royal Vauxhall Tavern Becomes England's First LGBT Historic Site

Photo via WikiCommons/Ewan Monro

The Victorian-era building is South London's oldest gay bar. 

Built in 1863, the Royal Vauxhall Tavern became a gay hot spot in the early nineteenth century, helped along by a formidable repetroire of drag performances. The oldest gay bar in South London, over the century is grew into an institution, which heightened fears for its future after its previous owners sold it to a development country last year. Activists began petitioning the government to name it a historic site due to its place in the city's LGBT history. After months of hard work, they have finally been successful, marking an exciting first for England.

A statement from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport declared venue to be a Grade II site by Historic England, adding:

"The first listing of its kind for a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender (LGB&T) venue, the iconic London location has an international reputation as arguably one of the most inclusive LGB&T venues in England, built on a tradition of hosting alternative, transgender and drag performances."

Heritage Minister, Tracey Crouch, spoke of her personal excitement at the development:

"I am thrilled to be able to list the Royal Vauxhall Tavern as Grade II - the iconic cultural hub in the heart of London is of huge significance to the LGB&T community. Not only of architectural interest, the venue has a longstanding historic role as a symbol of tolerance and alternative entertainment."

While LGBT activists have praised the decision as a means to preserve the LGBT space, the new owners of the Royal Vauxhall Tavern are not too happy. They fear that its being named a historic site will place undue restrictions on their ability to adapt to changing needs. A representative said:

"This listing attacks the commercial viability of the RVT and the future of this fantastic gay performance venue has now been put in doubt. We need a period of time to reflect and study the listing report in detail."

Despite the controversy, it's an exciting step forward for England's recognition of the importance of LGBT history.

[H/T Gay Star News]

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