Storyhouse is proud to be open, inclusive and a dedicated safe space for all members of the LGBTQIA+ community and allies. With our brand-new festival – Storyhouse Queer – just around the corner, we’ve decided to take a closer look at the growing LGBTQIA+ community in our hometown of Chester.
As a smaller city, it can sometimes feel like there’s not as much going on here for LGBTQIA+ people, but look closer and you’ll find a vibrant and proud community spread right across Chester and the surrounding areas.
The city’s biggest LGBTQIA+ event, Chester Pride takes place in August every year, and nowadays it’s hard to believe it’s only been ten years since the city held its very first Pride event – a small festival made up of a couple of market stalls, exhibition stands and a stage. Since then, Chester Pride has grown dramatically to become one of the biggest events in the city, giving the local community a great opportunity to celebrate diversity and champion LGBTQIA+ culture.
As the yearly march continues to grow in attendance, and with national numbers indicating a rise in those identifying as LGBTQIA+, it only makes sense that the LGBTQIA+ community in Chester is flourishing. Following increased demand and visibility, we’ve seen more and more queer events, groups and activities popping up across the city, from choirs to rugby clubs, social meetups to support groups, bars, cafés, and more.
With so much going on, we’ve created a quick guide to the LGBTQIA+ scene in Chester, helping everyone to find their place in the city we call home.
Places and Events:
The Liverpool Arms
Known affectionately by its nickname The LA, this cosy but big-hearted pub on Northgate Street is Chester’s only full-time LGBTQIA+ venue, and it’s been right at the centre of the local community for years. With a jam-packed schedule of live music, quizzes, karaoke and drag nights, there’s rarely a dull night at The Liverpool Arms, and all are made to feel welcome.
Follow The Liverpool Arms on Facebook, or visit their website to find out what’s on soon.
Gender Blender @ Rosie’s
Hosted by the inimitable Lady Wanda Why, Gender Blender has now been a staple of Chester’s nightlife since 2008 and remains the city’s leading LGBTQIA+ night. Offering a safe space for the queer community and allies to party without fear of judgment prejudice or violence, Gender Blender guarantees a flamboyant, fun-packed party atmosphere soundtracked by an eccentric mix of pop and club classics.
They’ve also teamed up with the Liverpool Arms to make them the official pre-party venue, with free entry and drink deals up for grabs for those who head down early.
Follow Gender Blender on Facebook and Twitter for more info and updates.
Rainbow Tea Rooms
One of the most recent additions to the city’s LGBTQIA+ scene, this welcoming café and local hub was established by Chester Pride to provide a meeting place and safe space for the community. A long-term project for the charity, the tea rooms finally opened in 2022 on Bridge Street and will now offer a permanent home for the charity to share their great work and raise funds for the future.
Using local suppliers where possible, the Rainbow Tea Rooms serve up a range of drinks, cakes, and lunchtime offerings throughout the day, while also hosting a range of community events and drop-in sessions to support local LGBTQIA+ people across the city.
You can find both Rainbow Tea Rooms and Chester Pride on Facebook.
Sports and Activities:
Proud Marys Choir
Chester’s first and only LGBTQ+ choir, Proud Marys, burst onto the city’s cultural scene in 2018. Since then, the choir has performed at all manner of events, festivals and celebrations – including performances in our very own Storyhouse theatre. Led by musical director Matt Baker, the group prides itself on creating a welcoming and inclusive environment where people of all ages and identities can come together and celebrate their love of music and performance.
Find out more about Proud Marys on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram – or simply visit their website for more details.
Chester Centurions Rugby
Established in 2017, Chester Centurions is an inclusive LGBTQIA+ rugby club that welcomes players of all abilities and experience levels. With the focus placed firmly on building a sense of community and team spirit, the club offers a great opportunity for LGBTQIA+ people to try out a new sport or simply join a group where they feel they can be their true selves without fear of judgment or harassment.
Working with International Gay Rugby (IGR), the team regularly compete in a UK-wide league, playing other LGBTQIA+ clubs from across the country, as well as hosting social events, meet-ups and fundraisers.
To keep up to date with Chester Centurions, visit their website or follow them on Instagram.
Rainbow Rockets Walking Football
Established by the Silver Rainbows network, this brand-new walking football team invites LGBTQ+ women over forty to come along and experience a new sport in an inclusive and friendly environment. Based out of the Cheshire FA Headquarters in Northwich, the team offer taster sessions and training programmes to welcome people with all levels of experience and ability.
For more info on Rainbow Rockets, visit the website or get in touch with the Silver Rainbows network.
Social & Support Groups:
Running right across Chester and Cheshire, this incredible charity has been providing support for the LGBTQIA+ community for more than thirty years. Body Positive splits its services into three main groups: SexSmart, which provides services supporting sexual health and healthy relationships; Technicolour, which offers general counselling, social groups and support for LGBTQIA+ people of all ages; and Silver Rainbows, an LGBTQIA+ network for community members who are fifty and over.
With a team of friendly and experienced staff and volunteers working to support the community, there are all kinds of opportunities to get involved, or you can always reach out for support no matter how big or small your concerns.
Body Positive’s website covers all aspects of their service and support, but you can also find them on Facebook and Twitter.
Established by the community charity Body Positive, the Silver Rainbows initiative is specifically aimed at LGBTQIA+ people who are over fifty. Born out of a recognition that older members of the community often carry the trauma of historical persecution and prejudice, the group offers a supportive environment for those who may be less trusting of the services and resources available to them.
The Silver Rainbows network aims to create safe spaces for LGBTQIA+ people to come together and socialise, especially for those who feel separate from the younger scene and are looking for new activities to enjoy with friends.
Follow Silver Rainbows on Facebook or find out more via their website.
Phoenix Youth Group
As an LGBTQIA+ youth charity, The Proud Trust works to support young members of the community and those who are questioning their gender and sexuality. Working right across Greater Manchester and Cheshire, the charity runs a range of initiatives and services including youth work, one-to-one support and school programmes. The charity also runs the Phoenix Youth Group in Chester every two weeks, offering a supportive space to make friends, connect with the community and join in with new activities.
Find out more about the Phoenix Youth Group here, or more on The Proud Trust here.