Are you either living, looking to live or visiting Sheffield but can’t be bothered trawling through Facebook and using your gaydar to work out whether an event / venue is LGBTQ+ friendly?
Well this guide has you covered. It’s not about the spaces a quick web search will help you find, (few though they may be). It’s about the queer alternative, the low-key and welcoming venues that are not LGBTQ+ specific, but where you will find LGBTQ+ people.
From night - life to cafes, culture and sports, this guide should have something for you to enjoy. This guide focuses on more centrally located places owing to their accessibility to the majority. Access has also been prioritised. The majority of spaces have been chosen because they offer options for those with physical disabilities, dietary requirements or sensory processing issues.
First things first: pubs and bars. Traditionally the LGBTQ+ scene has centred around LGBTQ+ specific venues for important safety and community building reasons. Although this guide is about so much more than that, its still well worth highlighting some Sheffield drinking establishments you can spot fellow queers at, and that feel safe.
Over in the upcoming area of Victoria Quays is quirky waterside drinking hole, Dorothy Pax. LGBT+ owned, it’s really come into its own in 2021, with a lively crowd drinking by the canal day and night. Known for its eclectic live music offer, often featuring folk artists, it comes highly recommended for the service and warm welcome guests are provided with. Sadly, no level access, (unless you stay canal-side, where the ground is uneven).
For late night thrills head down to Gut Level, Sheffield’s new queer club and workshop space, run on a not for profit basis. Gut Level is now the home of long running queer techno / acid house night Club Rush, (@club.rush.party) as well as hosting workshops with collectives including Working Them’s Club and Flaw Collective, focused on making space for marginalised genders. Their courtyard also offers opportunities to garden with Wet Patch. No level access or disabled toilet, but toilets are all gender. To gain entry you need to be a member.
You can also catch bigger drag acts and live music at famous Sheffield venue, the Leadmill, which has level access and disabled toilet.
If you’re after a night out, but want a cultural hit to be the focus, look no further than Andro and Eve! Sheffield’s queer arts organisation is most well known as the creator of drag king cabaret, The Kingdom Come. (Drag kings have often been the overlooked artists of the drag scene, so we put them front and centre). Pre pandemic, you could find us popping up in venues around the city, including Abbeydale Picture House, sharing the most exciting UK queer performance with a side order of vegan cake. Drag king workshops are hosted (which were also run virtually during the pandemic), along with workshops in zine making, creative writing and gender exploration. Centre zine or Joyful Noise are great publications to flick through too.
The ever welcoming Theatre Deli, home of Andro and Eve’s queer cabaret, A Reyt Queer Do, is a great place to find the best in new theatre, with plenty shows focusing on LGBTQ+ stories, and a programme exploring diverse voices. Home to excellent local festivals including Migration Matters, you can also catch some exciting Fringe shows before they make their way to Edinburgh. The venue is quirkily decorated, with level access and both gender neutral, gender specific and disabled toilets.
If your after a queer film or two, get down to Showroom Cinema, Sheffield’s original independent cinema which also has a bar where you’ll often spot more mature members of the LGBTQ+ community and bag a drinks offer. Level access and disabled toilet provided.
If you’re keen on some board games you might want to check out Treehouse Board Game Café. Situated at the bottom of London Road, tables are booked in timed slots, and then you have access to over 700 board games. With a café / bar serving a great selection of cask ales, wines and spirits and plenty of hot beverages, non-alcoholic options, alongside homemade food catering for vegans, you can expect a warm welcome here. Pre pandemic they ran Treehouse Rainbow Gamers, for all members of the LGBTQIA community. Keep an eye on their social media to see when this may return. Level access and disabled toilet.
As well as being famous for its ales and local brewing scene, Sheffield also does good coffee, and has a thriving independent café scene with excellent food options including loads of good veggie and vegan spots. You can find top quality coffee and your fair share of the LGBTQ+ community in some of the fave local haunts below.
A New Zealand inspired café, with sheltered courtyard and level access, which serves delicious fresh cooked food and top notch coffee. Level access, no disabled toilet, and all gender toilets are provided in the form of self - contained bathrooms.
A cute courtyard out the back with an emphasis on cakes and great, tasty, simple food catering to vegans. Level access, no disabled toilet, and all gender toilets are provided in the form of self - contained bathrooms.
A bit legendary in Sheffield for their dedication to coffee and doughnuts. They also serve up amazing grilled sandwiches, bagels and stock Elly Joy doughnots, for those who need their sweet treats gluten free and vegan. Located on Division Street, and attracting a real mix of folk, their service is always excellent. Toilets are self - contained bathrooms and they have level access and disabled toilet.
Centrally located on a sheltered terrace in Orchard Square, and open Wednesday - Saturday. This place comes recommended for its very friendly service, delicious diner style food (vegan diets catered for) and cocktails - plus they do bottomless brunch events. If you like your music loud, you’ll enjoy the atmosphere. Sadly it is not wheelchair accessible.
Airy and bright Birdhouse Tea Bar and Kitchen is the home of Yorkshire’s much loved loose - leaf Birdhouse Tea, and open Wednesday - Sunday. Situated on Sidney Street, this independent local business offers a plethora of drinks, with tea both served traditionally, and in cocktails and tea lattes (their chai latte is dreamy). Owner Becky is a whizz at creating moreish cakes and bakes, catering to a range of dietary requirements. Birdhouse are well known for their pancake and fizz evenings, stone baked pizza and tasty brunches. Their courtyard is a great place to meet friends, and they have level access with disabled toilet, and all gender private toilets. Birdhouse is welcoming of everyone, and a real mix of people can be found here. Also, rather uniquely for a city centre venue, if you have a canine companion, you’ll be pleased to know dogs are also catered for, with doggy treats and water provided.
For those of you more inclined to get active, Sheffield is called the Outdoor City for a reason. To be honest, historically it has been harder to meet fellow LGBTQ+ people if you are not the sporty type in this city! Thankfully, Sheffield’s ‘active’ offer now has something even for those who prefer to watch than participate!
Rainbow Blades is a Sheffield United supporters' group but they welcome everyone. They meet at Sheffield LGBT+ bar / café Spirits of Sheffield every Sheffield United home match day, where they eat, drink and socialise in this safe & welcoming LGBT+ venue. Even if you don’t feel comfortable attending Bramall Lane, you can still attend their meet up’s to meet likeminded people. Rainbow Blades also organise their own events, including occasional five - a side tournaments where all genders are welcome.
If you like your sports fast and furious, and have some skating skills, you might want to get involved with Sheffield’s ever popular Roller Derby scene. Sheffield Steel Roller Deby (SSRD) are the OG’s with skating opportunities for both 18+ and juniors 8 - 18. The juniors' league is open to all genders while the adults' league caters solely to female and non-binary skaters, and they are explicitly trans-friendly. As of Autumn 2021, SSRD are returning to weekly in person training at Skate Central. Matches, when they happen again, are a brilliant way to be surrounded by queer women and enjoy the thrills of this welcoming sport. For those wishing to be part of a more gender expansive team, The Inhuman League based in the North of Sheffield are open to all adults.
If you like Skating but in more of a chilled, ‘have a go at an ollie and fall over, but everyone cheers anyway’ then Queer Skate Sheffield could be for you. Currently organised by a very informal group of volunteers, in meet up’s around Sheffield, boards or blades are welcome to attend. Check out their Instagram @queerskatesheff for more information.
Trans Active is a social group for trans and non-binary people in and around Sheffield. Their aim is to provide a relaxed space where trans and non-binary people can socialise and improve their fitness and mental wellbeing through sport. Their current offer includes weekly swimming sessions for trans and non-binary people, and monthly activities which are also open to cisgender friends/ family/ partners.
Sheffield Vulcans are an inclusive Rugby team set up in 2017. They are part of a group of clubs that have been set up by the IGR (International Gay Rugby) and their Spirit of Rugby Campaign to tackle homophobia in sports. Training in Tuesday evenings in Sheffield, head to their website to find out how to participate.
Out Aloud are Sheffield’s LGBT+ choir with over 80 members and have been going strong since 2006. They’re open to anyone from the LGBT+ community with no auditions. Out Aloud’s mission is to sing to build pride and resilience, and to educate people about the LGBT+ community. Singing everything from pop to madrigals, they have performed in Paris, Dublin and London and are regulars at Pride. You can also find them giving a free concert every Christmas in Sheffield’s Winter Gardens and performing at civic events.
E.D.E.N Film productions are a brilliant social enterprise based in Sheffield who offer online and in-person filmmaking workshops for the LGBTQ+ community, producing short and feature films, as well as running events such as trans film festival, Transforming Cinema. Head to their website to find out about free upcoming courses.
Another ace way to meet fellow queer people is at Sheffield Zine Festival. This annual one - day festival showcases queer and margnialised voices making print and zines on all sorts of topics, and is a brilliant way to unearth hidden stories. Although on hiatus owing to the pandemic, they are always up for hearing from folk who’d like to get involved and help support future editions.
For those aged 11 - 25, SAYiT, offer activities and support groups for LGBT+ young people, supporting their emotional wellbeing. LGBT Sheffield is a volunteer-led charity attempting to give Sheffield a unique, centralised and shared LGBT identity, and can signpost LGBT+ people to specific services that may be on offer.