The WayOut Club: a safe haven for London's transgender community
The WayOut Club is London's leading transgender nightclub.
Vicky Lee, co-founder and host of The WayOut Club in London is a vivacious and enthusiastic trans activist who has been actively involved in building transgender rights over the years.
Lee (pictured above, left) is bisexual and gender-fluid, living some of the time as male and sometimes female. She has authored 12 guides to London’s transgender scene and has sold 5,000 copies for each guide. She lives with her long-term partner Lesley Lee. Despite working hard all her life, Lee thinks the future of the transgender community looks rather bleak.
The WayOut Club is London’s leading transgender nightclub. People start arriving at 9 pm and by midnight the club fills up with 150-200 people from different cultures and backgrounds.
Founded way back in 1993 by Vicky Lee, the nightclub’s main purpose is to provide a safe place for the transgender community to chill in a relaxed environment, be themselves and find others.
“Now is the happiest time of my life and my partner’s too,” Lee says with pride, watching the transgendered girls entering The WayOut Club on a Saturday night. “It has not been easy to get to this point in my life.”
The club has regular visitors which include boys, girls—and everything else in-between—of every race, age and gender. One such visitor is Adriana Bradford, “I go out as transvestite occasionally. I discovered this side of me when I split up with my girlfriend after 21 years and I enjoy coming here quite often,” she said.
But, the majority of the girls that turn up at the club are transgendered — transsexuals, t-girls, ladyboys and cross-dressers.
“I practise cross-dressing sometimes,” says Katie Anderson, “I am married but I do it more for escapism. I like dancing to music and the whole fun element of it.”
London born and bred, Lee has been together with her partner Lesley, since 1972. "As a young child I knew I wasn’t a regular boy,” remarks Lee, recollecting painful memories of her childhood. By the time she was 11, Lee fully knew she did not want to be a boy. “Puberty was really hard for me. My voice started changing. I went to an all-boys school. I did not feel like I fitted in at all. I was constantly bullied just because I was different. I met my partner when I was 18, I have known her for over 41 years and one of the things that we have struggled with is my transgender nature, for which we had relationship counselling three times.”
Lee began singing and DJing for a number of years. At the age of 45, she took a job as a drag queen in London. Her family rejected her upon once they found out, and for 21 years Lee has never spoken to her mother and sister.
Shedding light on the future of the transgender community in Britain, her words come as no surprise. “Prior to 2012, the future was very rosy for trans people”, utters Lee heaving a sigh of despair. “The media and the government were doing all the right things for the transgender people, but, minorities are under pressure again in the UK and for it to go backwards in the UK and America — that’s a tragedy for the transgender community.”
Lee says she would not choose to be transgender. “Being transgender makes your life more complicated and getting some kind of balance between what your trans nature needs and your life, your work and your family that’s a really hard thing to achieve,” she says.
“On the other hand, so many things I have enjoyed have come through being trans. In short, it’s a curse and a blessing. All in one."
The WayOut Club is a safe haven for members of the LGBTQI+ community, and it will continue to be London's leading transgender nightclub.