Doesn’t Everything Just Happen in Leeds?
There tends to be the idea that there’s no LGBTQ+ social life in York, and that you have to take the train across to Leeds to feel any sense of community or excitement. Although there is a lot of great stuff going on in Leeds, there’s definitely a unique and vibrant Queer community on the rise in York.
Coming to University is an amazing opportunity to explore your identity and expression, and to connect with like-minded people. I’m here to give you a short introduction to all the wonderful things the city of York has to offer for LGBTQ+ students.
There’s an LGBTQ+ Network at the Students’ Union that’s dedicated to making campus a more inclusive place for all our Queer students. They do amazing work, such as striving to have more gender-neutral toilets available on campus. But they also collaborate with the LGBTQ+ Social group to create fun inclusive spaces for Queer students.
There are non-drinking based events including coffee socials, picnics and ‘gayming’ nights, and also nightlife events. These include weekly nights at Flares nightclub specifically for Queer students from the Uni of York and York St John’s. Each week has a different theme from ‘Midsummer Night’s Queen’, to ‘Gaycation’. And there are plenty of opportunities to get dressed up, put that bass in your walk, and scream to the lyrics of Girl in Red to your heart’s content.
Drag In the Shambles
York has a blossoming drag performance culture and there are so many amazing opportunities to get a taste of live drag. The local scene is led by The Family Shambles – a drag group consisting of Gayle Force, Bailey Bubbles and Bodie Snatcher. There are regular events held in bars across the city, including the NYC themed bar Manahatta.
Another highlight is the open drag nights in Yates. Here you can discover up-and-coming drag kings and queens from the local area. Local drag acts have great links with the Uni too. From Boozy Bingo to a hosted final of DragRaceUK, drag is definitely a centre for a lot of Queer social life in the city and on campus.
There are lots of LGBTQ+ friendly cafes in York – they often display rainbow flags in their windows to signal that they’re a safe space – including Cosy Time and the incredibly Instagram worthy Plush Cafe.
And a central community hub in York is the Lunar Cafe. Newly opened this year, the small but mighty venue is an amazing central space for the city. The cafe offers an array of pride-flag themed cakes to accompany a hot drink and a chat with other members of the Queer community from across the city. There are always adverts for various social events in the city, as well as for local LGBTQ+ friendly services – such as gender-neutral hair-dressers. There are plenty of signposts towards support groups as well as social groups, such as the Sapphic Culture Club which meets at the cafe to discuss books, films and anything else Sapphic you can think of.
Reading is Fundamental
Just below the Lunar Cafe is a bookshop entirely dedicated to stocking Queer novels, comics, poetry, plays and super-cute merch. The Portal Bookshop is your go-to place for any queer bookish content you could want.
All the staff there are wonderfully friendly and help you find what you’re looking for. Or they can try and order any requests that you have. If queer booktok were a real place, this would be it.
The Bottom Line
York has so much to offer LGBTQ+ students – on campus and in the city, chilled activities and nightlife. For everyone who wants to explore their identity and connect with others. The Queer social scene is up and coming in York, so come along and Kiki!
Read more student stories about LGBTQ+ life in York.