You don’t have to be gay to enjoy a gay festival. This month, how about a quick round-up of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) Sheffield stuff?

During April, Spring Out 2011 is a popular event celebrating and promoting LGBT communities in Sheffield. It’s on Saturday 16th April at St Mary’s Conference Centre, Bramall Lane; book early to ensure a place if you’re interested, by following the link from the Gay Sheffield website. Also look out for GALA this summer, the Gay and Lesbian Arts festival of music, poetry and fun, which will be publicised on the website of Sheffield drag queen Tia-Anna. Sheffield Pride is a magical summer event now in its fourth year, on Saturday 16th July at Endcliffe Park. Preparations are underway, and companies and individuals are invited to sponsor its great mix of live music, community stuff, beer and fun for adults and kids. As soon as the website’s up it will be featured on Alt-Sheff.

Gay or not, surely everyone has someone they know who is. In Brazil, gay festivals are an open invitation to everyone, through a really nice expression along the lines of LGBT and ‘simpatizantes’ – this word doesn’t mean sympathisers, it’s far more loving, covering friendship and support. Here in the UK we’ve got organisations like FFLAG (Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) covering the same role in a formal way.

Things aren’t what they used to be – but in some ways that’s great news. Anyone over about 40 will remember the bad old days when homosexual was a word only to be whispered, as if it was something catching. In fact discrimination, jeering and even violence were a big part of life for people who were lesbian, gay, bi or trans. We don’t seem to have much to be proud of in this country any more, but the UK is now one of the best places to be gay, even though the Equality Act 2010 fell short of allowing gay marriage.

With even David Cameron supporting Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans History Month, it’s easy to forget that there are other places which are far from safe. And that it’s always going to be difficult to be a minority. ‘Coming out’ for young people generally has to wait until after their school days, which for some youngsters can be a hell of self-doubt and fear. Here in Sheffield it’s good to know that there are some excellent sources of support, like Gay Sheffield, which is packed with trustworthy information because it’s run by an NHS group. There’s also Sheffield Fruitbowl, which supports people under the age of 18 who identify as LGBT or who are questioning or exploring their sexuality. For men there is Shout! offering health advice, support and activities in a safe and relaxed environment. This is not to be confused with Shout! Magazine, which is ‘Yorkshire and North Derbyshire’s queer paper’, offering an online and published version giving loads of information and news. For socialising, the gay ‘scene’ in Sheffield stretches from places like Affinity Bar on Arundel Gate, Dempsey’s Bar on Moorfoot, and Lion’s Lair on Burgess Street, to Club Xes, 195 Carlisle Street. Sheffield Gay Scene is probably the best website to look at here; it’s been providing a great information service since 2005. And if the scene is too much for some, Sheffield Out of Office is an LGBT professional networking group, set up recently to offer alternative socialising opportunities away from noisy nightclubs. Quite why Sheffield’s gay clubs and bars are not in one definite central area unlike, say, Manchester’s, has been puzzling Sandra at Gay History Sheffield, who wants to talk to older gay people who have grown up in Sheffield, to piece together this silent part of our city’s past.

To really keep up-to-date you can’t beat live broadcasts, so it’s good to know that our favourite community radio station Sheffield Live! has a programme called The LGBT Hour every week, on Wednesdays from 2 – 3pm. Catch it on 93.2 FM or listen online, or download the podcasts afterwards. They also welcome anyone who may want to be involved with the show as a volunteer, researcher or presenter. If all this helpful and supportive information isn’t of interest to you, why not pass it on to gay friends in the spirit of friendship and lovingness that Sheffield is famous for? More next month from Alt-Sheff, the guide to Sheffield’s radical, alternative and ethical business and groups.

gaysheffield.co.uk
tia-anna.com
fflag.org.uk
sheffieldfruitbowl.org.uk
shoutinsheffield.co.uk
shoutweb.co.uk
sheffieldgayscene.co.uk
sheffield-outofoffice.co.uk
gayhistorysheffield.blogspot.com
sheffieldlive.org

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