Our QUEER SHEFFIELD – 2021 UPDATE

A slim, olive skinned drag king with long dark hair, stands on a small cabaret stage. In front of him is a crowd all whooping for him. They are lit by warm light and surrounded by lots of umbrellas hanging from the ceiling

Back in the day, after a year of running Andro and Eve we started to learn a lot more about the LGBTQ+offer in Sheffield. And it was fairly slim pickings. Then a guide came out describing the gay scene as ‘thriving’. So we wrote this blog in response. We basically were talking about cats in DIY shops as ‘queer’, because we were working so hard to find you all the queer things!

But its 2021, and despite a global pandemic, things have changed a bit for the better in terms of an LGBTQ+ offer in Sheffield. Theres a long way to go, but there is at least *something*.

We were recently commissioned by Visit Sheffield to write this article for LGBTQ+ visitors to the city, and locals too. Below you’ll find much of the info repeated, but with added sass and, (no shade), better font sizing.

Well this guide is 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.

It is written by a 30 – something non binary person (androgynous to masculine presenting) who has experienced their fair share of homophobia and misogyny and understands the need for spaces that are genuinely welcoming. This is one of the reason’s I co-founded Andro and Eve back in 2016.

two women, one south Asian with shoulder length brown hair and the other middle eastern with long curly hair stand smiling with their arms round one another. They both have moustaches drawn on their face with eyeliner.
The audience at an Andro and Eve event

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.

So read on to discover some hidden gems!

Pubs and Bars

Traditionally the LGBTQ+ scene has centered 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.

The Rutland is a ‘traditional pub’ in the sense that it has original windows, and an excellent selection of cask ales, wines and spirits, but that’s as far as the traditions extend. It stands out from the crowd for its décor. Understated it aint. Think queer with a capital Q, weird horror, placards from previous protests in Sheffield, topped off with a bit of spangle and the surreal. The jukebox creates a real sense of atmosphere (just don’t choose the forbidden songs), and their beer garden is spacious. Their famous ‘Rutty Butty’ is chunky and reyt tasty, and like the rest of their food, gives you a decent amount of vegan options. Reliably open 7 days a week, and situated in a handy to access spot in the Cultural Industries Quarter. Step access at the front, but the venue has a ramp they can grab. Sadly no disabled toilet. Pre pandemic they’ve been known to run LGBTQ+ specific nights, but you’ll always find a selection of Sheffield queers here.

A white man with glasses and hipster beard pours a pint of beer with his back towards the camera. A plywood wall of spirits and beers is shown with brighlt coloured mural on.
The Industry Tap

Nearish to this on Sidney Street is Industry Tap. Relatively new to Sheffield’s roaring real ale scene, its already made a mark for its frankly banging, and ever changing selection of draught beers and ales. Its position means the outdoor seating gets that lovely late afternoon / evening sun, and it is unofficially run by queer women. Attracting a real mix of people, from goths to hipster types, its got level access and a disabled toilet and does not play loud music. There are two gendered toilets but they are both self contained off the main space. Gluten free and vegan options, and open Tuesday – Sunday.

Beer Engine is worth checking out for its tasty tapas, (hello vegan and GF options) delicious wine, gin and cask ale selection and decent sized beer garden. Situated on the edge of the city near London Road, you’ll often find some LGBTQ+ community members (often lesbian / queer women) tucked into its cosy snugs and raising a glass to their chosen family. Toilets are gendered, but decent.

a plate of fresh tacos sits on a white plate with blue rim on a yellow table
Tasty tacos from Pina

Down in Kelham, Bar Pina is the one for those of you who love a cocktail. This Mexican themed bar is refreshingly free of any signs of cultural clichés, and simply serves up mouth – watering margaritas and fresh tacos. Their tacos are so fresh with great vegan options. Staying open late on weekends, the bar can get lively, but their beer garden is the perfect place to chill with friends. As of Summer 2021, they’ve also started doing a monthly queer night. They have ramp access through the beer garden, but the ground outside is gravel. Gendered toilets but with private full – length cubicles.

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).

Nightlife and Entertainment

Drag King Oedipussi at The Kingdom Come 2019.

If you’re after a night out, but want a cultural hit to be the focus, look no further than Andro and Eve! We are 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. During the pandemic, drag king workshops previously offered in person, have moved online, along with workshops in zine making, creative writing and gender exploration. Plans are afoot to bring back an in person offer, but in the meantime, you can get hold of our print offer, in the form of Centre zine, or upcoming zine, Joyful Noise.

A crowd of people cheer on a performer out of shot. They are in a warmly lit venue with umbrellas above their heads. They have their hands raised clicking their fingers.
The Andro and Eve crowd at Theatre Deli Sheffield

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.

Newly relocated DINA also serves up a healthy dose of queer performance, including alternative drag shows and locally run variety evening Sounds Queer. Their new venue in Fitzalan Square feels airy, with a bar serving drinks and snacks, and level access and disabled toilet. The performance space however, is not wheelchair accessible. You can also catch bigger drag acts and live music at famous Sheffield venue, the Leadmill, which has level access and disabled toilet.

Gut Level Sheffield has a very cute urban garden in their courtyard

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.

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.

Two white people are shown in the foreground sat at a modern wooden table playing a board game. They are in a light and tal ceilinged cafe with pillars and a wall of board games in the background.
Treehouse Board Game Cafe

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 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.

Cafes / Eateries

As well as being famous for its ales and local brewing scene, Sheffield also does good coffee, and has a thriving independent café scene. You can find top quality coffee and your fair share of the LGBTQ+ community in fave local haunts like Tamper Sellers Wheel, a New Zealand inspired café, with sheltered courtyard and level access, which serves delicious fresh cooked food, and Kelham based Gaard Coffee, which also has a cute courtyard with an emphasis on cakes and simple food catering to vegans. Both venues are open daytimes seven days a week, and have level access but no disabled toilet. However, all gender toilets are provided in the form of self – contained bathrooms.

Birdhouse Tea Studio. Always supporting the LGBTQ+ community

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 and they serve 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.

Steamyard Coffee is 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.

Terrace Goods in the city centre

Opened in 2020, Terrace Goods is centrally located on a sheltered terrace in Orchard Square, and is open Wednesday – Saturday. This place comes recommended for its very friendly service, delicious diner style food (vegan diets catered for) and cocktails. They are soon to launch bottomless brunch events. If you like your music loud, you’ll enjoy the atmosphere. Sadly it is not wheelchair accessible.

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!

You can’t go wrong with some rock climbing in Sheffield, and there are a huge choice of climbing walls in Sheffield. But for guaranteed ‘flirting’ aka, ‘checking in’ with a queer hottie who just fell off a wall / scaled to the top, the Climbing Works bouldering centre wins.

Sheffield Rainbow Blades

Rainbow Blades is a Sheffield United supporters’ group but they welcome everyone. They meet at Sheffield LGBT+ bar / café Spirit 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.

two roller derby players, wearing helmets and black close fitting outfits grapple with one another in an indoor gym.
Sheffield Steel Roller Girls (SSRG)

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 Derby (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, SSRG 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.

If you’re looking for non – sport based activities to meet fellow LGBTQ+ folk, then read on.

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 facilitate film making courses for LGBTQ+ people

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.

So that concludes this Alternative LGBTQ+ Guide to Sheffield. It is by no means comprehensive, but hopefully has given you some inspiration or helped you discover something new. Happy exploring!

Finn

2020 In Review

a zoom video call shows over 20 people onscreen and they are all doing their makeup

2020. Wow. We did not see that coming. The start of the year seems like a hazy fog, where the idea of putting on a huge drag king cabaret for 350+ people is like some mad dream. But that’s what we were preparing for back then.

Despite all the nonsense, heartache and grieving this year has brought, here at Andro and Eve we have things to celebrate. And as relentless purveyors of queer joy, (because joy is resistance, to so many communities), we’re here to review the highs, and some challenges that 2020 has brought.

Silvana Imam, a slim, blonde haired rapper, kneels at the front of a stage rapping. She wears desert boots, shorts and white hoodie.
Swedish Rapper Silvana Imam

We started the year with a screening of music documentary, Silvana, at legendary music venue, Yellow Arch Studios in Sheffield. Collaborating with Sheffield Doc/Fest, was a first for us, with Melanie Ireldale the deputy director, introducing this celebration of the story of Swedish rapper Silvana Imam, her rise to fame and blossoming romance with Swedish pop star Beatrice Eli. Many in the audience fell hard for this lesbian power couple that evening.

5 drag kings are placed in a montage. There is Prinx Silver, a spanish, white king with a crown and moustache. Christian Adore, who has olive skin, long balck hair, and dinner jacket on, with a bare chest. To his right is Georgeous Michael, a George Michael lookalive wearing a silver jacket, and in the centre is Wesley Dykes. He is a Black king with purple hat and sharp suit on. Mo terboat is in the corner, playing a guitar with open mouth. Mo is a white bloke with hoodie on.
Clockwise from top left, Prinx Silver, Christian Adore, Georgeous Michael, Wesley Dykes, Mo Terboat.

In March, we had the 6th edition of The Kingdom Come planned at Abbeydale Picture House with a stellar line up of talent. Just a few days after we trained our amazing team of volunteers at the venue, the board of Andro and Eve discussed the situation, and made the unanimous decision to cancel our drag king cabaret, scheduled for the 21st.

Facing a significant financial loss, the next week was a blur, but our community came through, with 85% of those who had already booked tickets, donating their ticket, which bought us valuable time to plan for a very different year and apply for funding. Thank you to you if you were one of those kind people.

In May we found out we had been successful in securing Arts Council England Emergency Funding. And with that a bit of breathing space. Launching our drag king workshop course in June, we were bowled over for demand for places on the course, with 50+ people taking part in 3 sessions led by drag king Christian Adore in July. Have a peep at what that involved, and what our participants thought in the video below.

Developing talent is key to our work. Our 2020 programme included an online Cabaret College, which we produced in collaboration with LoUis CYfer. Over 8 weeks, 13 emerging drag and cabaret acts were given the opportunity to develop their own material with regular mentoring from LoUis, and 4 creative sessions. As one of the participants said

The whole experience was so safe and welcoming. I was VERY nervous and always felt supported and like I could ask for help

As well as developing talent we were also aware that digital delivery would limit the audience for our work, and wanted to use print to connect. So we commissioned graduate artist, and founder of Racezine Collective, Okocha Obasi to produce a brand new zine. Okocha was mentored by artist Seleena Laverne Daye, and worked closely with Assistant Producer, Emma Bentley – Fox.

The resulting zine, Centre, featured the voices of a whole range of Northern LGBTQ+ people, specially commissioned pieces by director and writer Rikki Beadle – Blair, activist and founder of the Black Trans Foundation, Azekel, as well as an interview with one of our friends from Lesbian Asylum Support Sheffield. The zine sold 50+ copies in its first month on sale, raising £105 for Yorkshire’s Racial Justice Network. 50% of all sales go towards RJN, and we still have copies on sale, so grab one before they’re all gone.

A bright yellow zine with the words Centre Zine, in bold, black lettering sits on top of a hot pink surface.

We launched Centre zine with a special online party, A Reyt Queer Night In. With a vogue workshop by Mother of House of Ghetto, Darren Pritchard, and a party makeup workshop by Christian Adore, the night was topped off with a brilliant set from Gal Pal’s DJ Xzan. The night certainly went down well with attendees..

The music was amazing, really good range covered. I liked being greeted on arrival, the friendly, multigenerational space and chance to put in requests

It sure beat our first attempt at an online party – a Netflix screening party of Clueless on March 28th! It was cute, but, not quite up to our usual standard..!

DJ Xzan at a Reyt Queer Night In

In November we launched a new range of merchandise including postcard sets, badges and tote bags in the Trans Pride Flag colours. Because trans rights matter and we’re here to celebrate trans lives. They look lovely on our newly redeveloped website.

Behind the scenes, we filed our first year accounts to Companies House (what a highlight!), and Artistic Director, Katherine developed a Gender Awareness Training session, aimed at staff in organisations and businesses of all sizes. Both Assistant Producer Emma, and Katherine, undertook anti racism training through Racial Justice Network, with Emma also taking part in Access and Audio Description training with Quiplash. This will inform the way we work in the months to come and is an important part of our mission to make our work accessible and inclusive to all. 

a slim, East Asian model with mid length black hair is wearing a purple jumper and holding a turquoise and pink andro and eve logo tote bag.
New Andro and Eve logo tote bags in the Trans Pride flag colours!

On that note, we’ve just launched a new Community Survey. We don‘t know what the future holds, but we want to make plans with our community as the focus. If you’ve been to one of our events or workshops before, or follow us online and have 5 -10 minutes to spare, please complete the survey here. You can win a bundle of Andro and Eve goodies too!

Another highlight for Andro and Eve in 2020 was being invited to join Queer Arts North – a network of queer arts and Northern performance venues, platforming and providing talent development opportunities for LGBTQ+ artists in the North of England. It was great to be part of an artist networking event as part of Homotopia Festival in November.

Artistic Director of Trans Creative, Kate ODonnell, and Artistic Director of Andro and Eve, Katherine Warman at Queer Arts North Artist Showcase in March 2020.

The events of 2020 made us even more determined to work towards equality for all, and support the Black lives matter movement. The fight for racial equality would be nowhere without Black feminists like Audre Lorde, Angela Davis and Olive Morris, and Black LGBT+ community pioneers including Marsha P Johnson, Storme DeLarverie and Miss Major. We continue to familiarise ourselves with our history, and participate in anti racism work. On that note, this year, we’ve platformed Stop the Scandal, a campaign to prevent the use of mobile fingerprint scanners, linked to the Home Office database, by the police. If you haven’t read it yet, check out the piece by the Stop the Scandal campaign here. 

At this point, please excuse some soppiness in expressing a wholehearted thanks to the two new members of the Andro and Eve board, Lola White and Ellie Wyer. Having only joined the board in February, they came through hard for Andro and Eve, and have supported the development of the organisation in this most difficult of years. A special mention must also go to Assistant Producer, Emma, who has gone the extra mile to help us produce and market all our creative projects and events in the last year.

We want to say a massive thank you to all the artists we worked with in 2020, for your dedication, creativity and hard work. Thank you also to the team of freelancers who help make our work look so bold and beautiful. And thanks so much to the volunteers who’ve helped out this year too.

Andro and Eve volunteers enjoying some pizza, post training, March 2020.

In a year filled with challenges, and so much division sowed between communities, COVID has shown how unequal UK society is. We know in a way, that Andro and Eve and our tiny team are some of the lucky ones, we’ve carried on, while other enterprises have simply not been given the same support, or opportunity. We believe everyone should have the opportunity to make art, and access to culture. So we’ve dug in and got through 2020, and in many ways grown. But we know there is so much work to be done, and it is only in collective effort that we stand to make an impact.

Thank you to everyone who has told a friend about us, bought a ticket, donated, shopped or shared what we do. Your support is the reason we’re still here.

With love and solidarity

Finn

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