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Storyhouse Queer Meets: The Liverpool Arms

Storyhouse Queer is back for 2024 – a week of events, performance, film, workshops and more celebrating the LGBTQIA+ community.

To celebrate the return of our festival for it’s second year, we reached out to talk with some of the other organisations and individuals who sit at the heart of the city’s LGBTQIA+ community.

Chester’s much-loved LGBTQIA+ pub, The Liverpool Arms is right at the centre of the city’s community, with a long history of supporting and celebrating those who pass through its doors.

We caught up with Sandra, who runs the pub alongside her wife Erica, to discuss her experience of running one of the city’s most-loved venues, and how it supports and champions LGBTQIA+ people.

Hi! Who are you and what do you do?

I’m Sandra, myself and my wife Erica have had The Liverpool Arms in Northgate Street in Chester for 5 years. If you were to ask Erica what I do I’m sure she would say nothing! However, ourselves and the team have worked hard to build the reputation of the venue.

How did you come to The Liverpool Arms? How long have you been behind the bar?

We previously had the Old Queens Head on Foregate Street for 20 years, but when The Liverpool Arms came up for lease we couldn’t resist taking on a pub with such a proud LGBTQIA+ history. We we’re looking for a new challenge and were determined that The LA should remain true to its identity

The Liverpool Arms in 2019 - when Sandra and Erica took on the lease.

How would you describe the pub? What makes it such a special place?

In a word, friendly. Whether it’s the welcome you get from the staff or the friends you make when you visit. A real community within a community.

One of the things I love is that as an LGBTQIA+ person is that thanks to bars like the LA we have chipped away at the brickwork that had us underground. We can drink in bars that once we would have been refused at because of our sexuality, but don’t forget that we’re still here, still chipping away.

How important do you think it is to provide a safe space and make sure everyone feels welcome?

It is vitally important that everyone in our community has a place that they can relax or party without judgment or fear!

We’re committed to keeping The LA a safe & fun space in Chester.

You must have seen some great nights over your time – what are some of your favourite memories from being behind the bar?

I think it would have to be a New Years Eve when Lady Wanda set off the confetti cannons which blew the covers off all the air conditioning vents, every now and then a piece of confetti still falls out.

What do you hope the future brings for the Liverpool Arms and the Chester community?

Having just secured a further 5 years on the lease we’re committed to keeping The LA a safe & fun space in Chester. We will challenge any hate or injustice to our community and hopefully educate at the same time.

Are there any other LGBTQIA+ venues, organisations or individuals you’d like to give a shout out to?

A big Whoop Whoop to Chester Pride. I volunteered with them for 10 years and know the dedication and hard work that goes into the event. The work Chester Pride does in the community happens all year around. So, get your tickets for 17th August (I’ve heard Wanda needs a hip replacement).