An illustration of the GUU with a banner stating "welcome freshers" and an LGBTQ+ flag
Credit: Ciara McAlinden

A quintessential guide to Glasgow’s queer spaces

By Jeevan Farthing

Culture Editor Jeevan wishes you a warm welcome to sunny glas-gay, highlighting the cities LGBTQ+ spaces in all their glory.

Congratulations on becoming a glas-gay. If you’re reading this in freshers’ week, you will probably find yourself in Colourfest at Hive, expecting Paris is Burning but instead grooving to Ne-Yo and Usher. It is a rite of passage.

What freshers’ week easily overlooks is that University Avenue is essentially a city within a city; there is an entire Glasgow ready and waiting for your exploration. So, whether you’re from a village still at least 25 years away from its first Pride parade, or you find the gays in your home city too intimidating to properly be yourself, here is your comprehensive guide to finding queer fulfilment in Glasgow.

If you start your hypothetical day craving an iced coffee, fear not: The Alchemy Experiment on Byres Road is only a couple of minutes away from campus, and provides a totally safe and relaxed space with local artworks to admire. Alternatively, if you are living in the Southside of the city, because the University has decided not to provide you with a home for the year, The Glad Cafe is a one hundred percent vegan socially conscious joint just on your doorstep.

Very occasionally you may remember that one of the reasons you are in Glasgow is to obtain a degree, so if you’re ever in need of some queer-oriented or feminist research, pop over to the Women’s Library in Bridgeton. Their archives are absolutely fabulous and packed full of fascinating memorabilia from the 80s and 90s, while their women only events are totally trans and non-binary inclusive should you feel comfortable attending them. Meanwhile over on the Southside, Category is Books is a queer and independent bookshop there to satisfy your activism-aligned impulse buying desires.

It won’t be long before the evening rolls around. If drinking doesn’t take your fancy, then Pink Peacock offer some LGBTQ+ sober socials, but otherwise you will be off to Merchant City as the designated queer area of the city. For a moderately paced evening Bonjour is an adorable and compact workers’ cooperative – the antithesis of corporate pride – and probably the safest and most progressive space you will find. There’s a complete mix of drag shows, karaoke and DJ sets, but is completely ideal for a responsible midweek outing as whenever I have gone it has shut at midnight. This is perfect timing for Cairncross queers and Kelvinhaugh gays as you’ll have twenty minutes before the last number 2 bus leaves – enough time to go to the kebab shop. However the situation for those based in Maryhill is less ideal, as unfortunately First Glasgow will only get you home safely if you can afford to live in Finnieston.

Perhaps you want to stay out later, though, in which case there are three options. The first is Cosmopol, not actually a queer venue, but it feels queer, such is the infiltration of hun culture into queer spaces. Crucially, my safety has never felt compromised in this venue as it is mostly dominated by women in their 50s singing to Madonna, so it is a safe bet for wanting to humiliate yourself on stage without the fear of running into anyone else your age.

The second option is the Polo Lounge, usually the biggest accumulation of gays in Scotland at any one time. It’s the done thing to drink beforehand at Katie’s Bar, an underground venue revered for their bingo nights and karaoke – but don’t tell the bouncers at Polo that you’ve been there because in the words of X Factor Kelly Peakman they are “very very ‘arsh”. (AXM is around the corner if need be.)

While you are extremely likely to run into people you know in Polo, especially on designated student night Wednesday, the selection of music is essentially the same as in Garage but make it 15% more camp (think: fundamentally heteronormative but with an occasional yass queen). Gender neutral toilets are notably lacking but the facilities are comparatively hygienic compared to some other clubs. The best night to go to Polo if you just want to engage in feral/unhinged behaviour is a Sunday or Monday, partly because nowhere else is open, but also because the vibes are top tier (this is somewhat obvious: you are all out on a Sunday or Monday, so you are all objectively fun people).

Your final option is Stereo, again not actually a queer venue, but still extremely queer friendly and inclusive. You will probably feel far safer here than in Polo, while the music selection is more techno and house oriented. Even if this is not to your taste you may appreciate hearing this instead of five tracks in a row by Jess Glynne. Sometimes Subcity Radio will host nights here, in which case the proportion of on campus gays will increase significantly, adding a sense of familiarity to the abundance of mullets you can normally find at Stereo.

Once you’re back in your flat and nursing your hangover with some Lorraine you will soon become accustomed to the daily grind of being a glasgay. The queer scene here is slightly ramshackle, a bit here and there, but you will fall in love with it before long. There are some superb nights out and wonderful people to meet, and you have The Glasgow Guardian’s blessing in finding the queer joy you deserve.


Share this story

Follow us online

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments