Keep Fresh: LGBTQIA+ spaces in Glasgow

A hotspot of LGBTQ+ community and facilities, Glasgow benefits from a thriving LGBTQ+ scene. While most of this is localised to the Merchant City, LGBTQ+ spaces can be found throughout the city. More than just pubs and clubs, Glasgow homes a thriving drag scene, a yearly queer film festival, numerous support groups, and a range of LGBTQ+ specific sports club, to name a few. Below is a look at some of the city’s biggest and best LGBTQ+ spaces.

The Polo Lounge

Surrounded by a hoard of gay bars, the Polo Lounge is the hub of LGBTQ+ nightlife and community in Glasgow. The club is open and ready to party seven nights a week, including their weekly MotherTucker drag event every Tuesday. What’s more, every Thursday evening the Steve Retson Project holds a drop-in clinic for men who have sex with men to receive [free?] STI tests. The Polo Lounge provides a safe space for queer and questioning individuals to let their hair down, and to mingle with their community.

Moreover, alongside MotherTucker, venues across Glasgow host a variety of drag events, including the Art School’s drag karaoke Sgàiraoke, drag bingo at The Flying Duck and the Hillhead Bookclub, and the QM’s very own Drag Machine.

Category Is

Category Is Books is a fiercely independent queer bookshop on the southside, and one of only two LGBTQ+ bookshops in the UK. It’s an accessible venue with a chill atmosphere, welcoming owners, and an autism friendly day on Wednesdays. They stock new and second-hand queer books, magazines, graphic novels, comics, and zines. The bookshop also stocks informative books, handy for those exploring their identity. Category Is is a good place to meet other LGBTQ+ individuals; it has a wall where phone numbers and messages can be posted, a weekly barbershop, poetry, and games nights. Moreover, a fortnightly peer-led support group for men and non-binary people who have experienced sexual violence – Not Your Fault – is held at the shop. Category Is is the perfect space to explore LGBTQ+ identities and to interact with Glasgow’s queer community in a relaxed, alcohol-free atmosphere.

LGBT Health and Wellbeing

LGBT Health and Wellbeing provides support, services, and information to improve health and wellbeing and reduce social isolation in Glasgow’s LGBTQ+ community. They hold both identity-specific as well as general events regularly. LGBT Health and Wellbeing is part of a wider network of help and support organisations in Glasgow. These include LGBTQ+ specific Alcoholics Anonymous Groups, the Terrance Higgins Trust, Trans Masculine Scotland, and Bi+ Glasgow. Each of these organisations host events across the city, giving LGBTQ+ help and support, and a sense of community.

Scottish Queer International Film Festival (SQIFF)

SQIFF, held each October in venues across Glasgow, presents the best in queer cinema. Their goal is to get people watching, talking about, and making more queer films. They screen movies that people might not otherwise get a chance to see, and to create inspiring and informative events. These events help to showcase queer spaces around Glasgow, including the LGBTQ+ Youth Scotland, and LEAP Sports.

Sports Clubs

Glasgow is uniquely inundated with LGBTQ+ specific and inclusive sports clubs. LGBTQ+ specific clubs include the Glasgow Alphas (rugby), Glas-Gay LGBT Boxing, Saltire Thistle FC, and a number of roller derby groups, to name a few. LGBTQ+ individuals can oftentimes feel excluded from sport, but Glasgow’s plethora of queer-specific teams is helping to get queer people back into sport.

[Emily Barton – she/her]

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