Explore Glasgow and Edinburgh’s thriving LGBTQIA+ scene
Heading off to university is both exciting and a little scary, and even more so if you identify as LGBTQIA+. On the one hand, you’re moving to a new place and leaving old support networks behind, but on the other hand, you get to decide who you are, on your terms. It’s a great opportunity to meet new friends, try new things and see what kind of person you want to be. From newly hatched queers to Pride stalwarts, we’ve done the digging to help you find the LGBTQIA+ scene for you in Edinburgh and Glasgow.
Be sure to check in with your student union when you first arrive. There are more societies and clubs to join than you imagined possible (Quidditch, anyone?), but each of the Glasgow and Edinburgh universities have their own variation on an LGBTQIA+ society. It’s a great place to start if you’re looking for an inclusive space to make new friends.
Glasgow has GULGBTQ+ as well as groups for PhDs, staff and students studying STEM subjects. Edinburgh University represents with BLOGS, and Napier, Heriot-Watt, QMU, Strathclyde, Glasgow Caledonian and the Glasgow School of Art all have student groups as well.
If you want to grab a quiet pint in Edinburgh, the Regent is a firm favourite, and also does food (and vegan eats). The Street is gay-friendly too but a little glitzier. In Glasgow, the Flying Duck is a go-to bar, as are the (vegan) queer-friendly Mono and Stereo.
For classic gay bars in Edinburgh, try Planet, CC Blooms and Chalky’s, all within spitting distance of each other, and head to Delmonica’s or the Polo Lounge in Glasgow.
Regular gay nights vary in what they offer, so there’s something for everyone. Queer, trans and non-binary folks can head to Queeriosity in Glasgow for pre-club dancing, Menergy for the best drag or check out Hot Mess for disco.
In Edinburgh, you can find regular events with folks like Free Pride, Dive, Revolution Girl Style and Grrrl Crush!, who specialise in live music for girls who like girls. Working across Scotland, TYCI runs gigs, club nights, cultural events, blogs and a podcast, so keep them in your list of favourites.
LGB, non-binary and trans inclusion in sport is improving all the time, so there are plenty of ways to get active in either city. Leading the charge for inclusivity is roller derby. Played on roller skates and as much fun to watch as it is to take part, both Edinburgh and Glasgow have teams for all genders. The Auld Reekie Roller Girls have recently become ambassadors for Stonewall Scotland’s Rainbow Laces campaign, to fight homophobia, transphobia and biphobia in sport. Each of the teams also welcome people to join as non-skating members, so you can still get involved if you’d rather not play.
Across the cities you’ll also find LGBT Basketball, Women’s American football, the United Glasgow football club and parkour groups.
If you’re transitioning or have questions about gender identity, you can contact your university student support for counselling, as well as more practical advice like where to find a gender-neutral bathroom on campus. Wider than that, LGBT Health and Wellbeing have trans support groups and sessions across both Glasgow and Edinburgh, and they’re a great first port of call for any LGBTQIA+ people.