Calling all freshers: you may find yourself in a brand new city, just as you yourself are becoming more familiar with life within the queer community. Sadly, one is not issued with a pamphlet on how to navigate this new life, and it’s easy to feel daunted and overwhelmed. Panic not. We’re here to welcome you to the fold and point you in the direction of queer spaces that may be perfect for you.
Whatever city you find yourself in, there will be a plethora of opportunities to find people within the queer community. In Glasgow alone, each university has its own gay-friendly society. University of Glasgow, for one, is a Stonewall Scotland Diversity Champion and has cultivated a positive trajectory of support for its students and staff. From GULGBTQ+, a group proactive in promoting inclusivity on campus, to the progressive ethos of the unions on campus, there are safe spaces for you to meet like-minded people.
Meanwhile, PrideSoc, the LGBTQ+ Society of The University of Edinburgh, organises social, charity, educational, and political events. College and university are often where people find their political voices and join forces to fight for the greater good: you’re here, you’re queer, so make the most of it!
College and university are often where people find their political voices and join forces to fight for the greater good: you’re here, you’re queer, so make the most of it! You may find there are common issues your new friends care about as much as you, so galvanise and help make the area around you a better place. And don’t forget about your physical health! Research whether your college or uni offers any queer teams or groups. Not strictly college or uni-related, but Glasgow FrontRunners, Scotland’s largest LGBTQIA+ focused sports club and the second largest UK FrontRunner club, has mixed-ability membership with something for everyone. The club is welcoming and boasts a busy social calendar, so could be perfect for any queer runners looking to create a new network.
And when it comes to a stellar night out, each city boasts a vibrant and thriving queer scene. In Glasgow, we boast clubs like Polo (the night of many a regrettable decision, for some…), and AXM, as well as bars such as Katie’s Bar and Delmonica’s. For something a bit more subversive, you may wish to visit Bonjour, a profitsharing cooperative that has space for drinks, performances featuring Glasgow’s most talented and diverse drag, and for queer groups to hold meetings.
Edinburgh’s CC Blooms is an institution situated right next to Habana, both on Greenside Place, while my Dundee go-to is The Salty Dog, a small but wonderfully welcoming pub with eclectic décor and excellent music.
Edinburgh, as in Glasgow and Dundee, has a glorious drag scene, with queens travelling city to city to entertain the masses, so do your homework and find out who your local queens are going to be. You never know where you may see them end up: mine won Drag Race…
But you can’t go out all the time (though many of my peers certainly made a vigorous effort), and you may wish to partake in some, you know, learning, while you’re in the throes of your student years. And trust us, the second you jubilantly throw your graduation cap in the air, you can kiss all that free time you had goodbye. So do your homework and really sink your teeth into queer history and culture. In Glasgow, you must swing by Category Is Books, Scotland’s only queer bookshop.
Browsing the shop’s diverse range of titles is emboldening, and its owners have cultivated a space filled with information and stories, with queer words and worlds to escape to. There is also the Glasgow Women’s Library, the only accredited museum in the UK dedicated to women’s histories and achievements, which features an enormous number of resources celebrating the women of Scotland. But your university or college library is a must if you want to (and you definitely should) investigate the rich history and culture of queer people who shaped the world we live in today.
In closing, here is where we impart our pearls of wisdom:
- Try and remember to drink water before going to bed after a night out, but you must take off your make-up. Your 32-year-old skin will thank you.
- You may be feeling a concoction of freedom, nauseating anxiety, and uncertainty. Everyone else does too, so try to stay calm and have a nice time anyway.
- Keep an eye on your friends when you’re all out, keep a taxi number in your phone, and take a photo of your cloakroom ticket.
- Practice safe sex and look after your sexual health.
…but what fresher ever takes advice?
Welcome to the club.