Sheffield does not have a gay scene: LGBTQ+ students on Sheffield’s gay scene

In a recent poll by The Sheffield Tab, 75 per cent of students said Sheffield doesn’t have a gay scene

If you came to Sheffield expecting a lively and vibrant scene, like Manchester’s gay village, or the huge gay scene in Brighton, then you may be disappointed.

We asked Sheffield students via Instagram: “Do you believe Sheffield has a gay scene?”

According to a lot of students, Sheffield is an incredibly LGBTQ+ friendly city. But our poll suggests that the gay scene here is still amidst progress.

I spoke to students within the LGBTQ+ community to hear their opinions.

Emilie, an exchange student living in Sheffield

“I come from a small village in Italy, so when I came to Sheffield it was very freeing for me because I found other people that were also a part of the LGBTQ+ community. It took a trip to Leeds to realise that Sheffield does not have a community, from what I am aware of. There are barely any queer places and events, which I think is what missing in Sheffield.”

Laura, a Sheffield student

May be an image of one or more people, people standing and outdoors

“Sheffield has next to no scene for LGBTQ+ students at all. Even without comparing Sheffield to other cities, two LGBTQ+ bars that are realistically full of old men and straight people are absolutely NOT good enough. I can’t believe that a city like Sheffield, bigger than a lot of places, doesn’t even have an official pride event either.

“It’s so disappointing, you’d expect all cities to have several LGBTQ+ safe spaces.”

Saskia, a Sheffield student

“I don’t really feel like we have an LGBTQ+ scene, I feel like Sheffield’s gay scene is small in comparison to others. I mean we have a few bars but nothing like Manchester, Blackpool etc. I feel like there is some causation issues – everyone is so close minded because they haven’t been introduced to this scene or witnessed anything like it.

“However, I will say that a positive about the Sheffield gay scene is that I have met super nice people, who are openly supportive and welcoming of the community. So it’s nice to see a mix of people, especially those who respect and want to get to know the community.”

James, a Sheffield student

“I’m aware of the drag events Uni of Sheffield and Leadmill do, which is surprising given the kind of club it is. In terms of Pride there isn’t a lot going on, so it would be nice if there was more, but I believe the gay scene of Sheffield is quite hidden. The two gay clubs which although are not the liveliest places are long standing pillars of gay support in the city and a safe space which attracts straight and gay people.

“I think the film “Everybody’s Talking About Jamie”, both being based on events that happened in the city and being filmed in the city, shows how the deep set working class roots of the city and how it’s not as progressive here as other cities. However, even just living here for university I’ve seen a positive change within the LGBTQ+ scene and the support it’s received.”

So, what can be done?

We asked students what could be done to improve Sheffield’s gay scene and here are some of the suggestions sent to us on Instagram.

Multiple people commented on the lack of queer night-outs/events. For example, holding events like “Drag Bingo” and “Drag Bottomless Brunch”. We also received several comments that were based around the lack of official events for the LGBTQ+ community, such as Pride festival, which a lot of other cities hold each year.

In 2019, Manchester had international superstars performing at Pride including Ariana Grande and Years & Years. What does Sheffield get? Just two bars, that aren’t very centrally located for students.

I can’t help but feel like if there were more “gay-friendly” spaces in Sheffield, like LGBTQ+ regular events/club nights, and official Pride events, our city would be more accepting. This could create more funding and support for the community, avoiding horrible situations of abuse and violence.

Last month, the owner of Dempseys claimed South Yorkshire police “does not care” about the “almost nightly homophobic attacks” that they said occur to both staff and customers.

Owners Colin Humphreys and Kieron Lowry stated that the police have “let the LGBTQ+ community down and have allowed the criminal fraternity to prosper”.

They said it is “commonplace for staff and customers to suffer homophobic abuse and threats of violence”, but claimed their appeals to the South Yorkshire police have been “unanswered”.

At the time, Chief Constable Lauren Poultney of South Yorkshire Police said

“We are committed to working with all our licensed premises in Sheffield, including Dempseys, to provide a safe and welcoming night time economy.”

Since then, Dempseys stated…

“We’re extremely pleased to say that we have had a very lengthy and incredibly productive meeting with South Yorkshire Police. To be honest, we couldn’t have wished for a better response. Hard work lies ahead, but we are confident that we can work alongside the police to provide a safer environment outside.” 

If you need help or support whilst on a night out in Sheffield, you can contact the South Yorkshire police by calling 101.

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