When it comes to picking where you want to study, the city you’ll be living in for the next three odd years is just as an important choice as the course and university itself. This is particularly true for queer folk. An inclusive environment where you can truly spread your wings and come into your own is vital. Here’s a quick rundown of just some of the cities you might want to consider making your own.
While some may contest it, others would call the seaside city of Brighton the gay capital of the UK. One of the big factors for this is the sheer density of queer people filling up the city. According to 2021 census data, one in ten people living in Brighton class their sexuality as something other than heterosexual, with some neighbours such as Kemptown going as high as one in five!
So, why are so many queer folk moving to Brighton in their droves? Well, Brighton Pride, one of the biggest in the UK, is undoubtedly a massive advertisement for the city every year. The seaside nature of the city is a nice escape for many queers wanting something slightly quieter to London. With numerous LGBTQ+ owned businesses and networks set up to support the population, Brighton is quintessentially gay.
While maybe predictable, London was always going to be on this list. The nature of London as being a melting pot of cultures lends itself nicely to LGBTQ+ students looking for somewhere to study. Featuring in the movie Pride, Gay’s the Word was the UK’s first dedicated LGBTQ+ bookshop and serves as a political rallying point to this day for students wanting to get involved more in activism.
Soho provides more nightlife than one person could ever possibly need, regardless of what vibe you’re after, they’ll be something to scratch your itch. If clubbing isn’t your thing, the Vauxhall Tavern has you covered as a cosy pub.
Cardiff may not have been on your radar, but it should be. While the UK parliament has been stepping back its support for LGBTQ+ communities in recent years, the Welsh government has stated its intention to make Wales the most queer friendly nation in Europe. While Cardiff does has all the traditional things you might expect from a big city, they also have a lot of grass roots activities as well. The Big Queer Picnic runs as a free event centering around the community as a direct alternative to the increasing commercialisation of Pride.
Described by the New York Times as “West Hollywood, England style, but more gritty”, Manchester has a thriving queer history. The city has a long commitment to it’s LGBTQ+ population, building Europe’s first purpose-built gay centre in 1986. This acted as the catalyst to growing Manchester to what it is today, a city with one of the biggest Pride’s in the UK, home to the LGBTQ Foundcation and Gaydio, and the location of iconic queer TV series such as Queer as Folk and Banana & Cucumber.
Manchester, frankly, is the place to be for queer students (and non-students). Manchester’s Gay village is the stuff of legends, located alongside the iconic canal, and home to a number of venues, clubs, pubs, restaurants and shops with everything you’d need from a late night snack to UK poppers & dildos. There’s numerous gay sports teams to join, non-alcoholic spaces and queer study groups – everything a future student could want.
This by all means isn’t a definitive list, but something to get you started on your search. Almost all universities will have a LGBTQ+ society to help you get started and meet new people, so definitely seek them out wherever you end up!