Happy pride month everyone! Leeds ranks as one of the top ten best cities for LGBTQ people in the UK, and for those of us that live here, it’s obvious why. We’ve got a whole host of great spaces dedicated to providing and advocating for the LGBT+ community in a variety of ways. Whether it’s serving you coffee, lending you books or giving you an unforgettable night out, here are a few of the greatest LGBTQ+ spaces in and around the city.
THE BOOKISH TYPE
Opening up in September 2020, The Bookish Type is a queer-themed library that can be found in the Merrion Centre. Starting out with a goal to highlight all the amazing LGBTQ voices that are available in the literary world, The Bookish Type now provides Leeds with a variety of arrangements that work toward uplifting the gay community. They use pay-it-forward schemes which allow people who may otherwise be unable to afford it access to their books, host queer history tours around Leeds, and run fundraising events that raise money for grassroots LGBTQ charities in the city. They also have some seriously good books in stock: fiction, non-fiction, zines – you name it. Head over to their shop between Tuesday and Sunday to see for yourself.
Anyone who’s been on a night out in Leeds has probably heard of Viaduct Showbar. This place is a staple in the LGBTQ scene. Famous for its big nights and bigger stage personalities, Viaduct is one of the UK’s best cabaret venues, and they put on shows multiple times a week. Their team of outrageously talented drag artists are bound to keep you entertained with their choreographed routines and great DJ sets, leaving you to dance the night away while surrounded by likeminded people. If you’re more of a daytime explorer, they also have a range of events that begin from 2pm, including an ever-popular bingo afternoon that may have you leaving richer than when you came in. Whether you fancy your chances at getting those lucky numbers in the daytime, or prefer to party until the early morning, then be sure to check them out. Find them on Lower Briggate – or just follow the noise!
FLAMINGOS COFFEE HOUSE
Operating as the only late-night dry venue in Leeds, Flamingos has been an integral part of the Leeds LGBTQ+ scene since opening their doors in 2018. Their menu offers up a wide range of options: sweet treats, savoury snacks, and a plethora of drinks are all at your fingertips. But they don’t stop at serving coffee. No, Flamingos also strives to provide for the queer community in a variety of non-caffeinated ways too, through hosting events to promote mental health awareness, decorating their café with queer artwork, and incorporating their ethos of love, inclusion and respect in everything they do. People have even ended up getting married thanks to Flamingos’ speed dating events! So for any singletons out there who are looking for love as well as coffee, their business in the Central Arcade might be the perfect place for you.
THE COSMOPOLITAN HOTEL
If you’re passing through the city and looking for a place to stay while you’re here, then the Cosmopolitan Hotel is your easy answer. Located in the heart of Leeds, this hotel is the centre point for Leeds First Friday – one of the biggest monthly meetups for trans and nonbinary people in the UK. It’s also close to many of the best gay bars in Leeds, such as Fibre, Viaduct Showbar, and the New Penny. So there’s no need to worry about a taxi after your big night out! You’re free to soak up the brilliant atmosphere of Leeds’ LGBTQ scene, and then head over to The Cosmopolitan at the end of it all, knowing that you’ll be totally looked after by their professional staff the entire time. Perfect!
Images- @thebookishtypeleeds, @viaductshowbar, @vegansupnorth