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Queer Travel: a Guide to Glasgow For The LGBTQ+ Community

Named the best country in Europe for LGBTI rights in 2015 and 2016, Scotland can be a great destination for queer travellers. Alongside the beautiful scenery of the highlands, romantic loch retreats and cultural epicentre of Edinburgh, Glasgow’s buzzing nightlife is renowned across the country.

Pride Glasgow is held every July (with the 2018 event being held this week on the 14th and 15th). The parade runs through the city whilst Kelvingrove Park hosts bars, a stage and stalls as well as some smaller events.

Here is the lowdown on where to visit during Pride and other events that run throughout the year.

Safety

The UK as a whole is one of the best places for LGBT+ people to visit with regards to rights and safety. In Scotland gay marriage has been legal since 2014, there are numerous anti-discrimination laws and the right to change your legal gender exists.

As with other countries, there are some areas to be careful in but most cities are very welcoming to the LGBT+ community. Public displays of affection may attract unwanted remarks or glances however people tend to be quite accepting.



Nightlife

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Delmonicas (known locally as Dels) is the most well known gay spot in Glasgow featuring numerous events, a well stocked bar and bright pink furniture. This is a common bar to visit before continuing elsewhere on a night out. If you’re lucky, you may be able to grab some free entry flyers to other clubs whilst you’re there.

For something a bit more upscale, try Speakeasy. There are a wide range of cocktails and a famous Saturday night cheesy-pop event to take the edge off the regular upmarket vibes.

Club X is Glasgow’s alternative gay bar with an S&M theme. It’s tucked in the basement of Polo Lounge – Glasgow’s most famous gay nightclub – and has a shared shower room and anything goes attitude.

Finally, try the Flying Duck for an indie gay night on the first Friday of the month. It isn’t a gay bar the rest of the time, so expect a mixed crowd, but it’s a great option if you prefer Oasis to Madonna.

Events


OutSpoken Arts is an arts festival dedicated to the LGBT+ community. Touted as a queer competitor to the world famous Edinburgh Festival Fringe, expect a wide range of events from comedy and theatre to club nights and music gigs. The event is usually held from mid-May to the beginning of June.

If you’re interested in film, the Scottish Queer International Film Festival is held in Glasgow in September/October every year. A selection of LGBT+ films feature, as well as workshops for queer filmmakers and parties.



Other Things to Do…

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Virginia Gallery is the only erotic art museum in Scotland and has exhibits dedicated to the LGBT+ community.

The Glasgow Women’s Library also has a Lesbian section featuring a huge selection of books, artifacts and letters.

The Barras is a well known hipster spot with a weekend market. Though not an LGBT+ attraction, all walks of life are welcome and it is worthy of a visit during your time in Glasgow.

Places to stay

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 Scots are well known for their welcoming attitude and most accommodation will be suitable for LGBT+ travellers. Merchant City is where most of the gay bars are located so all of the hotels here will be accommodating and it’s likely other gay travellers will stay in this area.

If you’re on a budget, citizenM is popular with gay tourists although it is marketed to everyone.
For a more boutique experience, 15Glasgow is also gay friendly. It’s a bit further from the main gay spots, but comes with a private garden and traditional breakfast. It is within a 19th century building and has more of a luxury vibe.



Tips from Locals


 “Overall Glasgow is really accepting of gay visitors, with quite a lively gay section – though it is contained to one area. Towards the outskirts of the city I’d say it gets progressively worse. Places to avoid: down the Clydeside at night, the back streets and Maryhill.” – Marty (Gay Male)

“Most of my personal experiences of homophobic abuse have actually been more to do with sectarianism. The LGBT community in glasgow is friendly and welcoming.” – Rosie (Bisexual Female)

“I walked home in full drag many a time and didnae get chibbed.” – Anon (Bisexual Male)

“Not as scary as my mum said.” – Tracy (Transgender Lesbian Female)

So, there you have it.

Written by Ian Close

Ian R Close is a freelance writer from Scotland and currently based in Lisbon. He enjoys travelling and sharing his knowledge and experiences over on his blog, Pengwings. He can also make a pretty mean flat white.

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