Here at Storyhouse we are proud to be an inclusive space for people of all genders and sexuality. With Pride approaching and our upcoming screening of Are You Proud?, one of our Young Content Creators, Jon, has provided a guide of LGBTQ+ activities and groups that occur in Chester throughout the year. This list is never complete and we welcome any submissions in the form at the bottom of the page so we can continue to highlight the diverse range of LGBTQ+ goings on throughout our city.
AN LGBTQ+ GUIDE TO CHESTER
By Jon Paul Roberts
You might not look at Chester and think of the city as somewhere that has much of a LGBT+ scene. On the surface it can look as though it’s incredibly limited, especially since the city’s only gay bar, Bar 69, closed in 2018. However, with the introduction of Chester’s first Pride festival in in 2013 things started to change. That first event featured a stage, a few exhibitor stands, and some pop-up market stalls. It was attended by approximately 2,500 people. The next year, 2014, Chester’s first Pride March took place with around 5,500 in attendance. Last year, 2018, around 15,000 people came throughout the day. It was clear that LGBT+ in Chester were looking to establish a presence within the city.
According to a council report in released in 2015, there may be between 13,200 to 18,500 LGBT, over the age of 18, living in the Cheshire West and Chester area. These numbers are always dicey as so many LGBTQ+ do not wish to disclose their orientation or gender identify for various reason. In this respect, the number of queer and LGBTQ+ people living in Cheshire could be way higher and with recent national numbers indicating a rise in those identifying as LGBT+ it makes sense that Chester’s queer scene is growing. Over the past five years the city has seen groups from choirs to rugby teams, social meet-up groups to support groups, have all rise in response to changing attitudes, increased visibility, and, quite simply, increased demand.
So we put it all in one place. Here is a guide to what is going on in Chester, all year around, if you’re LGBT+ and if you have any other events, groups, or activities that you would like to add to this page then simply fill out the form below to let us know what’s happening!
The second Sunday of each month at Wesley Church Centre at 6:30pm with refreshments afterwards.
Open Table is an ecumenical Christian worship community that offers a warm welcome to those who identify as LGBTQIA and are looking for a church. It was founded in June 2008 in Liverpool and now it has given opportunities to people all over the country to come together and share their faith.
Their vision is for the religion of LGBTQIA+ people to be accepted within the queer community and within the religious one. They hope that LGBTQIA+ people will be fully included within church traditions and communities. Until then, they offer a safe sacred space for those who need it.
If you have any questions or for more information you can contact them via the contact form on their website.
Various times and locations
Silver Rainbows is an initiative, set up by the community charity Body Positive, which is aimed specifically at LGBT+ people who are over fifty. They recognise that because the history they carry with them is one of trauma, persecution, and prejudice, both institutionalised from the people that were supposed to be helping them (such as doctors, nurses, and the police) and rejection from their families that they can often be untrusting of the services available to them. They also know that the mainstream LGBT+ scene isn’t always accepting to an older crowd and that can cause difficulty for those looking to find and form lasting friendships and a social life.
Silver Rainbows is open to all LGBT+ people over 50 and acknowledges those that have been out for a long time and those who are just now discovering their sexuality. They offer various activities, meet-ups, and social gatherings including karaoke, walking groups, and much more.
For more information call Colin on 01270 653150 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Body Positive: Gay and Bisexual Men’s, Lesbian and Bisexual Women, and Trans groups.
Times Vary, see below for details.
‘Come along […] Time after time after time, we had people that would come to our social groups who were walking up and down the road for the past 3 months, 6 months, a year, getting ready to push their finger on the buzzer. Once they got here they got a massive benefit from that. They built new relationships were better off for it and they have regretted putting things off.’
-Dr. Christopher Tomkinson
Body Positive’s various social and support groups are an opportunity for LGBT+ people to come together and socialise. The charity offers a number of different groups in locations across Cheshire, which are dived by sex, because they found that everyone had different issues and experiences. The intersectional nature of homophobia and misogyny for example meant that single sex groups offered spaces for all people to feel safe and discuss their experiences.
They offer the following groups and are looking to expand and also make them more frequent where possible:
Gay and Bisexual Mens Group: Chester Community Fire Station, every 4th Wednesday of the month from 7pm til 9pm
Lesbian and Bisexual Women’s Group: Bridgewater House (Crewe), fortnightly on Mondays 7pm til 9pm (and once a month in Macclesfield.)
TransPositive: Bridgewater House (Crewe), every 2nd Tuesday of the month from 7pm-9pm.
For more information check out their website or email Dr. Christopher Tomkinson at email@example.com
LGBT+ Group at Storyhouse
Runs on alternate Mondays
The group at Storyhouse is a social group for LGBT+ people in Chester and specifically for those who might feel excluded from the mainstream LGBT+ movement for whatever reason. They aim to offer a safe environment for people to make links with others who might have the same experiences or be in the same situation. The agenda for the meetings vary from organised talks, arranged outings, or casual chats.
For more information email cheshireLGBT@outlook.com or call Lee on 07859541620.
Sport and Activities
Contact for opportunities to join and practice schedules
The Chester Centurions are a gay and inclusive rugby team established in 2017. The team offers a community and a place to meet likeminded people as well as the opportunity to try something new. It’s for people who want to give rugby a try (regardless of gender, sexuality, or ability) in a friendly environment with zero tolerance towards homophobia or bigotry.
They are a rugby union team who are part of International Gay Rugby England (IGR) which allows the team to play other LGBT+ inclusive teams from across the country. They have regular social events and meet-ups as well as fundraisers and other activities.
For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org
Rehearsals on monday nights (times & locations vary)
The choir is a large, extended, supported and friendly family. Originally put together as an initiative through Silver Rainbows (see above) who teamed up with Matt Baker to improve social isolation amongst the older LGBTQ+ community and to engage and connect with likeminded people. After its initial run, the choir opened itself up to members of all ages and has gone on to have around 50 members and 30+ attending rehearsals on a regular basis.
The choir is a place for people who love music and like to sing but also it’s a place to meet people. It has a diverse range of ages and experiences (the eldest member being 75 and the youngest being 24) which makes it vibrant and bright community.
For information about joining or booking the choir
send all enquires to email@example.com
Pubs and Nightlife
Every Tuesday at Rosies on Northgate Street, 10pm-3:30am (£4 entry on the door)
‘ It was born in 2008 after Rosie’s approached me to create a night, they felt that they could offer a safe space and wanted to make sure people from the LGBT+ community were welcomed within the nightclub. We wanted to offer a safe space where a same sex couple could express the same affection as a none LGBT+ couple could, [to] educate people, and be there for people who were “coming out” especially for students away from home.’
– Lady Wanda Why, Drag Queen & Host of Gender Blender
Within Rosies Chester (Popworld) every Tuesday is the cities LGBTQ+ night and a staple of the queer scene, Gender Blender. It offers a safe environment for members of the queer community to come together, let loose, and dance. Gender Blender is a good place to let your hair down and not have to worry about judgement, prejudice, or the fear harassment and violence that is too common in non-LGBTQ+ spaces.
Lady Wanda Why, the host and creator of the evening, says that the Gender Blender team have are more than just the team who host each week, but they have ‘ been there for some of our guests struggling coming to terms with who they are or even mental health problems, [Lady Wanda Why] makes a point of offering a shoulder to cry on or a chat with should people need it.’
Gender Blender is a fun-packed night that plays a wide range of music, they offer great value drinks, and free entry via The Liverpool Arms (their official ‘Pre Venue’). They bring fun theme nights, the occasional celebrity guest, & Live PAS to Chester where you will have the chance to meet new friends along the way.
For more information and updates you can follow
The Liverpool Arms
79 Northgate Street, Chester, 12noon-11pm (Free Entry, unless otherwise advertised)
The warm, and recently renovated, Liverpool Arms, affectionately nicknamed The LA, is a small LGBTQ+ friendly pub in the city centre. They offer live music, quiz nights, and karaoke every Friday hosted by drag queen Betty Sparkle. They’re also partnered with Gender Blender and going via The LA can get you into Rosies for free.
You can like and follow The Liverpool Arms on Facebook for more information.
The Phoenix Youth Group
In Chester, 2nd and 4th Tuesday of the month or in Ellesmere Port on the 1st and 3rd Tuesday of the moth. Both take place between 6pm and 8pm. Other groups also meet in Northwich and Winsford.
‘If you’re interested in coming along, I would recommend giving it a go! It could be the start of something really wonderful!’
-Fiona Parker, Outreach Youth Worker for The Proud Trust
Phoenix is a series of youth groups for young people aged 13-19 years who identify as LGBT+ (or anyone who might be questioning their sexuality or gender identity) set up by The Proud Trust. They’re a relaxed and fun group who offer a wide range of activities such as film nights, cooking, graffiti art, orienteering, game nights, and so much more.
The group’s members have said they feel more confident since joining the group and have made great new friends. It’s also been a useful way for LGBT+ youth to learn what services are available to them via the The Proud Trust, such as one-on-one counselling.
Open to Students at Chester University
The LGBT+ Society at Chester University offers a safe and non-judgemental community to those studying in the city. They also offer social events including attending Pride together, Halloween parties, Christmas Nights Out, and drag nights. Similarly, they organise talks and discussions around sexual health and staying safe when you’re out and about.
You can find out more and join the society here.
Held in August, every year.
Figure 2. Image Credit: David Sejrup
Chester’s Pride Festival sprung after some council research that was done in Chester and Cheshire West following the 2010 Equality Ac found LGBT+ were concerned about homophobia and visibility. In 2012, a few events were organised to specifically cater to the LGBT+ community including music nights and a walk for Light for World AIDS Day. Now, in 2019 Chester s Pride is an event that attracts around 15,000 people and it’s still growing. The march, a common staple of Pride celebrations used to remember that pride started as and still is a protest, takes place through the city of Chester and afterwards, on Castle Square, there is live music, food and drink, and different stalls featuring Charites, groups, events, functions, and more. It’s also in inclusive event with spaces such as the ‘Alcohol Free Chill Out Space’ which features non-amplified music that is autism and baby friendly.
The music acts come from far and wide but they also feature great local talent. In 2019, soul singer Heather Smalls, of M People fame, headlines a day that also features drag artists, the Proud Mary’s (see above), tribute acts to some famous gay icons, and X-Factor star Lloyd Daniels.
This article was written by one of our Young Content Creators, an initiative ran in conjunction with Young Storyhouse to provide budding content creators paid opportunities to showcase their unique voices within Storyhouse’s digital channels.
Young Content Creators are supported by Film Hub North, awarding funds from The National Lottery.