My partner and I don’t walk around Sheffield after dark. We learned soon after moving here that it just wasn’t worth the aggravation. Men would frequently shout ‘LESBIAN’ at us, give us hostile stares or snigger, making us feel unsafe, singled out and othered. It could ruin what, until that point, would have been a great date, bringing up feelings of rage, impotence and hurt. If you shout back, you’re left feeling worse that you let them get to you – that this City of Sanctuary isn’t safe for people like you.

Picture the word ‘lesbian’ and there are probably several schemas at work in your mind, conjuring images or judgments that you’ve unconsciously picked up. The word lesbian is still one that many women inside and outside the LGBT+ community struggle with. It’s the reason why when men shout it at you on the street, it seems like an insult, because you’ve made it publically known that men as romantic partners are not for you. This transgresses everything our patriarchal society socialises us to believe. I am an able-bodied, white, cisgender lesbian. This brings with it some privileges, but as a gender non-conforming woman, I still get more negative attention than I’d like.

Representation matters. Andro and Eve was created in 2016 to celebrate queer culture and bring people together in Sheffield. We programme excellent films, music and performances that explore queer stories, often focusing on voices that are otherwise marginalised, to reflect and celebrate the diversity that exists within the LGBTQIA community. We enjoy drawing on our skills as artists to transform the venues we pop up in, and we pay our artists industry rates, because this fosters a culture of respect and equality that is at the heart of our work.

There are a whole host of reasons why venues dedicated to the LGBT+ community have slowly been disappearing from cities across the world, including Sheffield. Andro and Eve seeks to address this loss because we are not alone in realising there is something unique about stepping into a room where you are no longer the minority, allowing you to relax and be yourself.

Since our inception, we have programmed and produced ten different events, including Sheffield’s first drag king cabaret, The Kingdom Come. At our most recent event in January, we celebrated the literary work of queer women of colour in a night of film and poetry, collaborating with Manchester’s Rainbow Noir and Sheffield’s Our Mel and Lesbian Asylum Support (LASS).

Our focus on drag king culture comes from a need to step away from the male gaze. The drag king scene in the UK is blossoming, thanks largely to nights like Boi Box Open Mic night and Bar Wotever’s Non Binary Cabaret in London. We have a UK drag scene that increasingly plays with and critiques gender and celebrates trans identities. Our aim is to make a space for this wonderful scene to flourish in Yorkshire, to widen access and be part of the network of regular drag nights that help spread the appeal of drag kings outside the UK’s capital city.

We welcome all who come to our events, and we proudly centre women and those identifying as transgender. Often women and genderqueer people attend Andro and Eve events on their own, commenting that they feel comfortable enough to be in the space by themselves. Andro and Eve is vital for a city like Sheffield, that prides itself on its ‘culture’, yet so many of the scenes are overwhelmingly white and male-dominated.

As an unfunded partnership, we still have much we want to achieve, but we’re proud this year to have been able to introduce accessibly-priced tickets through fundraising efforts. Our queer community spans generations, genders, races and a wide geographic area. Come and celebrate it with us at our next event.


Photo of Romeo De La Cruz, by Ndrika Anyika

Katherine Warman