London Theatre TicketsLondon Theatre NewsA stride for pride - the best queer West End shows

A stride for pride - the best queer West End shows


West End is no stranger to queer stories or performers. While Spitting Image (1968) has cemented its place as the first openly gay play in London, many theater enthusiasts would argue the impact of the LGBTQA+ community came much before that. Whether it was queer-coded characters in Shakespeare’s most famous works (As You Like It, The Tempest) or Christopher Marlowe's Edward II, that dared to explore sexuality even in 1592. In the arts and culture industry, theater has been the rainbow sheep of the family. 

Season after season, West End continues to be populated with stellar entertainers that are brave, bold, and beautiful. And while the classics like Cabaret and The Rocky Horror Show are the popular choices, here are our top recommendations for some of the latest newcomers, taking big strides in the theater district. They’re here, they’re queer, and they’re slaying!

Slave Play

If you’re about to get comfortable, don’t. This play, written by prolific artist Jeremy O. Harris during his Yale years, is an unsettling narrative in every way. In three acts, Jeremy takes us through the story of three interracial couples and their experiments with antebellum sexual performance therapy. While one of the couples is admittedly in a homosexual relationship, even the overarching narrative explores sexual consent, toys with the boundaries of appropriate sexual behavior, and skillfully weaves the history of master-slave sexual assault in pre-abolition America. 

O. Harris, who himself identifies as gay, brought a lot of his own experience to the story, chiseling at the sensitive themes with hard-hitting realities. The play has been pivotal in many ways, not just for the playwright but for the black and LGBTQA+ communities as a whole. Its first public screening in September 2019, was also the birth of the ‘Black out’ performance. Despite receiving a record-breaking 12 Tony nominations in 2021, it brought no silverware home. Fortunately for O. Harris, that didn’t stop the production from being a hot topic of debate.

& Juliet

For Canadian writer David West Read, this is no first rodeo. His pathbreaking production, Schitt’s Creek, is widely regarded as the holy grail of queer representation in the media industry. But this retelling of Shakespeare’s classic love story is different. The jukebox musical is bright, bubbly, and everything you expect from a coming-of-age story. Juliet’s no damsel in distress hanging from a balcony here, she is on a trip to Paris with her best friends. 

One of them is May, a non-binary character played by trans-non-binary artist Justin David Sullivan. Not only does the production do a great job at reimagining gender stereotypes, but does so with great respect. Their journey to self-acceptance and finding their voice is beautifully depicted with exciting numbers. It’s not just the pop music that will bring you joy, the show is genuinely inclusive with many cast & crew members identifying outside the gender binary.

F**king Men

Joe Dipietro’s delightful play is derived from an equally audacious 1897 classic, La Ronde, by Arthur Schnitzler. Despite the suggestive title, the script largely refrains from explicit nudity, all sexual acts are performed in the dark. What it focuses on instead is the emotional journey of the ten men engaging in inter-connected sexual encounters. The key theme is the sexual relay race, taking us to a hooker, soldier, teacher, student, married man, financier, porn star, playwright, actor, journalist, and back. Each character is well-rounded, depicting a wide range of sexual expressions. The nature of their relationships is also distinguished, while some prefer monogamy, others revel in their sexual freedom. In the 14+ year run of the production, the Tony-award-winning playwright has ensured that his work remains relevant. And his consistent efforts have resulted in a light-hearted and earnest representation of 21st-century dating.

Unfortunate - The Musical

Ursula, the devilish sea witch, has long been considered an act of defiance against the queer community. Disney famously ripped her off of popular drag queen Divine, without so much as a how’d you do. This musical parody is Daniel Foxx and the LGBTQA+ community’s thundering response. Among the long list of wronged queer characters vilified on screen, Ursula is legendary. And in this entertaining hit musical, she reclaims her throne as the ruthless, honorable, plus-size icon. Among a sea of gay sea creatures, hilarious lyrics, and a glamourous cast, the creatives willfully present a tribute to all the queer icons that could have been. And if the camp production was not enough, Ariel herself is played by charismatic drag queen River Medley (of RuPaul’s Drag Race fame). Ariel’s lustful, Ursula’s scorning and the audience is definitely in splits!

Everybody’s Talking About Jamie

For the most part, it’s often difficult to find cheerleaders who are willing to retell their stories. But not for Jamie Campbell. The British drag queen, also known as Fifi la True, didn’t shy away from visiting producers across London until his story got featured in BBC’s Extraordinary Me series. That’s how Tom MacRae landed the inspiration for his groundbreaking musical. 

At just 16, Jamie has decided he wants to be a Drag Queen. And despite his career counselor telling him that's unreal, young Jamie pushed through. On his journey, he met bullies, a former drag queen, a disappointed father, and a stiff society. But his loving mother and close friend Pritti help him outweigh the odds. The endearing musical stands as proof that the joy of acceptance starts at home.

Six - The Musical

It's not surprising that a lot of queer stories are reimaginations of outdated narratives. One of them is the story of Henry VIII’s six unlucky wives. The saddening fate that befell each of them, heartbreak, divorce, and beheading, inspired this comedic pop concert. The queens have overthrown history and taken their rightful place in the kingdom of love. The Tony Award-winning musical is largely queer-coded but performs exceptionally well in representation. One of the writers, Toby Marlow, identifies as non-binary and the production has been well-known for casting queer artists. But most of all, the creative team, including Lucy Moss and Jamie Armitage, has been applauded for calling out patriarchal narratives, promoting sisterhood, and breaking the cycle of abuse.

Last Year’s Favorites -

Kinky Boots

A Tony award-winning team, glitter, glam, and a whole lot of kinky boots come together to shatter all kinds of ceilings in this hit musical. The story follows Charlie, who struggles to save his father’s shoe factory, with help from the vivacious drag queen Lola.


This unexpected hit transforms the rugged Wild West into a fertile ground for sexual awakening. The men have left, and a non-binary bandit is here for the rescue. Together with the women, they help challenge gender norms, sparking a much-needed revolution. 


Sarah Ruhl adapted Virginia Woolf’s auto-biographical work for this exciting exploration of gender identity. The titular character journeys through Elizabethan England, undergoing a startling transformation, both gendered and emotional.  

Best of Enemies

James Graham’s signature political commentary shines through in this intense drama, as it follows transcendental interactions between a conservative commentator and a liberal, bisexual author in 1968 America.

Es & Flo

Esme and Flo met 40 years ago and fell hopelessly in love. But the clandestine couple has new troubles to brave as Es gets diagnosed with a terminal disease and Flo must spare no effort to save the woman she loves. The two women struggle to continue to share their lives in love, loss, and suffering.

Take your pride to the streets and catch these shows on West End this June. Select from the season's favorite hits, and get the best of your experience with our London theater guide.