Student Guide 2014: a guide to the LGBT scenes in Edinburgh and Glasgow
From university societies to the best gay-friendly bars and clubs, we've got you covered
Whether you’re just out of the closet, questioning your sexuality or out to everyone you know, university can be your chance to thrive, says our LGBT Editor Kaite Welsh
Whether you’re just out of the closet, questioning your sexuality or out to everyone you know, university can be your chance to have that hectic social life you’ve always wanted, and meet the love of your life – or at least, of this week.
Luckily, Edinburgh and Glasgow have thriving LGBT scenes and your student union is on hand to give you support if you need it. If you want to check out just how queer-friendly your uni is and what support they offer, Stonewall’s Gay By Degree website has a database of all the UK universities with a checklist of how LGB-friendly they are, although they currently don’t offer information for trans students.
Your first point of call will probably be your university’s LGBT society. They have stalls and events during Freshers’ Week, and you can find more details on your student union website. In Edinburgh, Edinburgh University has BLOGS, which is open to all LGBT and questioning people, and Heriot Watt, Napier and Queen Margaret all have LGBT or LGBT+ societies. Glasgow University might have the best name, though – GULGBTQ+. Wherever you are on the sexuality and gender spectrums, you’ll find a place for you there.
Whilst essay deadlines, making friends and living away from home for the first time can all be a bit scary, one thing you shouldn’t have to worry about is being able to have a wee in safety. If you’re trans, you probably know that it isn’t always that easy, and if you don’t identify as female or male, you might resent being forced to choose between those two stick figures. Luckily, most universities – including Edinburgh and Glasgow – all offer a gender-neutral option so that you can pop to the loo hassle-free. Contact your student union in confidence if you want to check where they are.
If you want to meet people outside your university, there are a variety of things to get involved in around both cities no matter what you’re into. The LGBT Centre for Health and Wellbeing might sound more like a spa than the hub of gay and trans social life in Edinburgh, but they have a full programme of exciting events. If you haven’t had enough of reading for your course, then the Edinburgh Gay Men’s Book Group takes place once a month, and LGBT Film Nights does what it says on the tin – if you’re fed up with the usual hetero Hollywood fare, head over there for films with a different bent. They also have a regular drop-in centre and Bi & Beyond is a fortnightly social evening for people attracted to more than just one gender. If you’re trans, genderqueer or non-binary and coming out to friends and family, Me & T meets twice a month to provide support to anyone close to someone who is trans or exploring their gender. Both that and the monthly Trans Women group take place at the LGBT Centre for Health and Wellbeing.
Sometimes, though, you just want to hit the dancefloor. Edinburgh's most infamous gay club CC Blooms has had a bit of a revamp in recent years – what was once Edinburgh's favourite disco dive is now an altogether classier joint. But don't worry – at the weekends it reverts to its roots, with where you can dance your cares away on a dancefloor sticky with gin, glitter and bad decisions. If you want camp without breaking the bank, Planet is just a short stumble to or from CC's. With £1 drinks on Monday nights and the campest pub quiz this side of Butlins, it's the pre-club favourite you just can't quite bring yourself to leave. It's also one of the more women-friendly gay bars on the Edinburgh scene – although towards closing time, 'friendly' might be bit of an understatement. The New Town Bar is, unsurprisingly, nestled away in the heart of Edinburgh's New Town, where its Georgian facade hides one of the best dance clubs in the city, and The Regent in Abbeyhill is known for its real ale and queer-friendly atmosphere.
In Glasgow, the Polo Lounge is worth a visit whatever night and if your tastes run to Morrissey rather than Madonna, Yes! at the Flying Duck is here to meet all of your indie needs. Feminist collective TYCI run queer-friendly nights and Speakeasy and Delmonica's are firm fixtures on Glasgow’s gay scene for a reason. If you don’t want to hit the clubs, Lock Up Your Daughters is a monthly filmmaking group hosted by the CCA, where you can make your own entertainment.
But if you just want to talk or you’re not ready to come out to anyone, LGBT Helpline Scotland are available every week on Tuesdays and & Wednesdays between noon--9pm on 0300 123 2523.