‘I feel like an actual freak show’: LGBTQ+ students on whether they feel safe in Sheffield

Another student said, ‘I feel like a walking fetish’

I think that here in Sheffield we excel in so many areas, but for LGBTQ+ students we aren’t doing enough to make every individual feel safe. As a bisexual student from the local area, to an extent, I do feel safe in Sheffield. I have never been the victim of a homophobic attack, nor have I had any slurs shouted at me in public places.

So, for years in Sheffield I have gone out in the area drinking, ending up in a vulnerable state, all while being part of the LGBTQ+ community that is still widely discriminated against, and still managing to avoid being affected directly.

Yet I still can’t say I feel a 100 per cent safe in the area.Why? Because time after time I’ve had to watch pathetic bouncers make derogatory comments towards gay friends and I’ve had to hear countless stories of mates being called a “dyke”.

And yes, I’ve been in our gay clubs, they are filled to brim with dodgy, old men. With that in mind, The Sheffield Tab spoke to 11 students to see how safe they feel in Sheffield:

Arne, Sheffield Hallam University 

“I think for the most part I feel safe, but I’m definitely conscious about how I act and how I come across, I definitely tone down my ‘gayness’ for lack of a better word when I’m out.

“I’ve experienced homophobic remarks etc several times when down West Street, mostly by bouncers rather than other people which doesn’t help things considering they are meant to be the ones keeping us safe.

“Sheff has a very limited gay scene but even in Dempsey’s I have been cornered by a group of straight lads who saying all sorts of vulgar things to me.”

Anonymous, University of Sheffield

“I was being searched for mandatory reasons by club bouncers after the spiking issues. When I approached the bouncer he said he would only search and let me in ‘if I promised not to get hard’ while he patted me down.

“I often don’t feel safe when going to bars on West Street, it’s here where the most amount of homophobic comments have been made.

“In Sheffield, LGBTQ+ people only have two venues that are gay safe spaces and even they are not safe due to homophobic people using them as a late night option instead of going home.”

A spokesperson for the club in question said: “I have spoken to all the current doormen and none have any recollection of this incident, they’re adamant they wouldn’t say anything like that. We trust this doorman completely as we’ve never had any complaints about him and he has never shown any other malicious behaviour.

“Our staff come from a variety of different backgrounds including ethnicity and sexuality, this makes it hard to believe this was said. Our staff and customer well being is our number one priority. We are part of the ask for Angela scheme which aims to protect vulnerable people.

“We are also part of the best bar none scheme which helps to promote the four licensing objectives, which aims to keep people safe and looked after in the hospitality industry.”

Anonymous, Sheffield Hallam University

“When I’m out in Sheffield with a girl I feel like I’m a walking fetish. It’s like men see me as a challenge, despite the fact I make it very clear I’m not interested in them.

“I’m tired of hearing things like ‘I can make you change your mind’ when I tell men I’m gay.

“Sometimes when I’m out in Sheffield I feel like an actual freak show just because of the way people react to two women or two men being together.”

Lauren, Sheffield Hallam University

“My experience as a gay woman in Sheffield is overwhelmingly positive but I don’t think this city embraces its LGBTQ+ community like some others do.

“The fact that there is only two gay bars is very poor, and the fact it’s full of old, creepy men is even poorer.”

Meg, Sheffield Hallam University

“I feel safe in the sense that living in the City Centre there is far more diversity and acceptance, I come from a small village and there is a huge difference in tolerance

“BUT then I also think there’s a bigger risk of violence against the community just because there are far more LGBTQ+ people.”

Anonymous, Sheffield Hallam University

“I wouldn’t say I necessarily feel unsafe as someone who’s LGBTQ+ in Sheffield, however, I do wish that there were more LGBTQ+ spaces to allow me to express my sexuality in a specifically ‘gay-friendly’ space.”

Marnie, Sheffield Hallam University

“Living in Sheffield identifying as part of the LGBTQ+ community is more than often a pleasant, accepting city to be in. The nightlife and the people in Sheffield exhibit the typical Yorkshire love and acceptance that we look for as part of a minority group in society.

“Yet, I cannot say that I have never been a victim to a hate crime in Sheffield.

“I can say with conviction that 90 per cent of the people in Sheffield spread nothing but love and positivity, unfortunately, that small percentage can dampen the bright light that emits from this loving city.”

Tom, University of Sheffield

“I have never felt unsafe as a bi guy in Sheffield.

“Whether it’s being in Dempsey’s, Pop Tarts or Hope Works, I have never felt worried about kissing or walking home with guys in a completely open way.”

Anonymous, University of Sheffield

“I think safe spaces are often occupied by non-members of the LGBTQ+ community, which aren’t allies

“I often witness homophobic/transphobic situations in safe spaces such as Dempsey’s and Queer Junction.”

Freya, Sheffield Hallam University

“I definitely feel safe in Sheffield as a member of the LGBTQ+ community, especially these days.

“I would even argue that it’s praised more than it is rejected. Whenever I’ve told a new friend that I’m bi, its always been accepted.”

Anonymous, Sheffield Hallam University

“I feel really safe in Sheffield; especially in places like Queer Junction and Dempsey’s, everyone is so accepting.

“I’ve never had an issue with homophobia on a night out, which I feel really lucky about.”

Queer Junction and Dempsey’s have been contacted for comment.

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