You’ll also want to take a quick spin around the British Music Experience (Cunard Building, Canada Blvd, Liverpool. Tel: 44-151-519-0915. www.britishmusicexperience.com) where, of course, the Beatles memorabilia is displayed, but also outfits, original lyric sheets, and other goodies from British gay icons like Elton John, Freddie Mercury, and George Michael.
I am lucky enough to meet with one of the curators at the Victoria Gallery and Musuem (Ashton St, Liverpool. www.vgm.liverpool.ac.uk) who is excited to show off their brand-new initiative called the LGBTQ Working Group. “You’ll be surprised how many of our works of art have a queer connection,” she tells me. Pieces are marked with a rainbow flag to denote the community connection. She shows me one sculpture that was turned around to showcase the sculptor’s emphasis on the figure’s rear. “We never realized how homoerotic the sculpture was of the man until we presented it to viewers in this manner.” She continues: “We look to unearth previously hidden or unknown LGBTQ histories in the collections and aim to facilitate understanding of LGBTQ identities and histories through research, public programming, discussion, and debate. We also consider the ways in which visitors themselves interpret and make sense of museum objects on the basis of their own identities and experiences.” An LGBT- specific tour of the galleries can be booked by messaging LGBTQ@vam.ac.uk.
Taking in Liverpool from the water is also a must-do. I loved the quick journey on Mersey Ferries (www.merseyferries.co.uk). Sit outside and enjoy the architecture that dots the shore. Travelers will particularly like to see the original Cunard building, replete with its nautical nuances.
During my day in Liverpool, my accommodations are at the Hope Street Hotel (40 Hope St, Liverpooll. Tel: +44-151-709-3000. www.hopestreethotel.co.uk). While waiting for my room to be serviced, I’m ushered into the dining room for a lunch where I am so glad I have a chance to try the cuisine at The London Carriage Works. The modern-British fare and delicious cocktails are a treat. Goats curd, heritage tomatoes, basil, and black onions are just the intro to seared bass and spring vegetables. My room is a corner unit with large windows, modern amenities, an oversized bath, and kingsized bed. The hotel is expanding, and the new section will also house one of the few hotel spas and pools in the city.
Tell people from the neighboring cities that you’re going to Blackpool and expect to hear polarizing opinions. Most remember the seaside resort city from their childhoods, others from a wild stag or hen party, but most ignore the city’s rich history as a queer enclave and a center of entertainment both lush-filled and sober.
I’m standing in front of the Blackpool Tower (Promenade, Blackpool. www.theblackpooltower.com) on the comedy carpet with Cybil DuVaux, the drag queen owner of Peek-a-Booze, a gay club and hotel. He recites some of the more memorable comedy lines that blanket the floor. “Nice to see you, to see you nice,” he chuckles reading the line made famous by Bruce Forsyth. He also tells me about Pride Blackpool (www.prideblackpool.co.uk).