Sheffield is super!
Words: Heather Paterson
As I dust off the glitter and recover from the New Year’s hangover, I am entering my 20th year of living in the Steel City.
Back in the day, other than the one central bar, Cossack (a place I have many fond memories of, and undoubtedly many more missing ones!), the scene consisted of bars out in Attercliffe, nestled amongst the steel factories. Between the Albert, Barcelona, Madison’s, Ma Bakers, Planet, Club Xes and others, we had a gay village arguably ahead of its time.
Fast forward 20 years and the last of the Attercliffe scene is long gone, with the closure of Club Xes ending the era in 2012. Last year saw the end of OMG and the opening of Queer Junction, maintaining the status quo of two city centre gay bars, alongside the long-standing Dempseys.
This may seem a little underwhelming at first for a city this size, but you don’t have to scratch far below the surface to find queer culture running through the town like a stick of rock. Sheffield is a city of independents, creatives, art and culture, festivals and DIY attitude and the LGBT+ scene is no different. On the festival calendar in 2018 in addition to Pride, Pinknic, Diversity Fest, and Transforming Cinema, we saw over 60 events in February for LGBT History month alone and the city’s first ever Black Pride.
We have drag performances across the city ranging from the home-grown talents of our own queens the Funky Beavers and drag kings the Half Montys, to international Drag Race favourites. We have collaborations like Andro and Eve and Fruit and Juice who not only put on fantastic events but do so centring women, trans people, people of colour, drag kings and others who are often left out of mainstream gay scenes. Venues including DINA, Delicious Clam and Theatre Deli host regular events filled with queer live music and performance while others have pop-up film screenings, gaming nights and club nights.
You don’t have to scratch far below the surface to find queer culture running through the town like a stick of rock. Sheffield is a city of independents, creatives, art and culture, festivals and DIY attitude and the LGBT+ scene is no different.
On any given weekend I could be dancing on Dempseys’ tables with a bottle of cherry Lambrini in hand, or at a DIY queer punk gig, or watching a drag show, at an LGBT+ film festival or gaming event, seeing a theatre show led by gay asylum seekers, watching our LGBT+ choir Out Aloud, the list goes on…
The days of the best thing about Sheffield’s scene being the train station (i.e. the fact that you could be in Manchester in under an hour) are long behind us. In fact, the main issue I have these days is being spoilt for choice and event clashes!
This year is set to be our biggest yet. 2019 is the 50th Anniversary of the Stonewall riots (and the 60th Anniversary of the lesser known Cooper Donuts uprising), so expect lots of events to mark these occasions. Later in the year, Pride Month takes place in July, which this year will be run by the largest and most diverse pride committee to date. Friends of Edward Carpenter will be marking the 90th anniversary of the poet and actvist’s his death. February will also see our first Rainbow Laces tournament, while March’s beer week will see a special event to launch a new organisation supporting LGBT+ people in the beer industry.
I’m excited for the year ahead. We may not do our scene like other cities, but we do it Sheffield-style – and I wouldn’t have it another way!