Birmingham is a wonderful place to live and study, a city with a unique cosmopolitan culture that is full of music, talent, restaurants and canals and so much more. Being an LGBT+ student in Birmingham definitely has it’s benefits. It’s most populous city (outside of London, of course), and within, the vibrant LGBT+ community is one that welcomes with big open arms, celebrates and empowers individuals from all walks of life, Birmingham’s scene with no doubt gives other places a good run (or duckwalk) for their money. Let me tell you why.
If you don’t know what the duckwalk is…
1. The city is all inclusive
Whichever letter you identify as, there are a plethora of activities, groups and services for everyone to engage with. To name a few, there’s a South Asians LGBT group who meet regularly to share experiences and listen to guest speakers, transgender & non-binary aerobics classes at Birmingham LGBT+ Centre and Rainbow Voices – a Midland’s based choir who meet together to celebrate their diversity in song. Here at Aston, we have a student society (and a staff network), which offers weekly meetings, social events throughout the year and student welfare support. There is something for everyone!
2. Birmingham celebrates LGBT+ culture
Birmingham has a lot on offer surrounding LGBT+ culture in a variety of mediums. SHOUT, the festival of queer arts and culture brings us 4 days of exploration, discussion and celebration through film screenings, events, talks and discussions each year for LGBT+ history month. The ineffable Yshee Black, hosts several showstopping, lip-synced, drag infused competitions including the groundbreaking ‘Church of Yshee’ (Have you seen Sister Act?). At the Birmingham Museum, a major exhibition ‘Coming Out: Sexuality, Gender and Identity’ is featuring contemporary artworks by over 80 renowned artists – I highly recommend visiting, you could even get a trendy Instagram picture whilst you’re there 📸. Finally, the city is home to many LGBT+ night-time venues from chic bars and live entertainment venues to the legendary Nightingale Club – frequented by many drag race queens and home to the raucous, highly androgynous party, that is Glitter SHIT (if you love funky, old-school house, fuelled with glitter and good vibes, check it out!)
3. Birmingham Pride
Talking about culture, Birmingham Pride is an incredible event that runs over the Spring Bank Holiday. Attracting over 75,000 people, Pride is begins with a parade through the city centre to the Gay Village in Hurst Street, where the festival is host to several music acts (the likes of Dua Lipa, Katy B, the Vengaboys and Ms. Dynamite), a massive dance arena where DJs such as Tough Love, Jamie Duggan and Todd Terry have beat-matched to the audience’s delight, as well as a funfair, stalls and plenty of glamorous cabaret entertainment. Wear anything you like – pride is all about acceptance and love.
4. Aston LGBT+
Aston University prides itself on being diverse in every sense; everyone’s differences are brought together forming a unique community. Here at Aston, we have a large LGBT+ society that welcomes those who identify with a sexual or gender minority. The progressive group who meet every Wednesday at 1pm in the MLK, also welcome anyone who identifies themselves as an ally of the LGBT+ community. With over 100 members, the society organises a wide variety of social events and activities (including the well acclaimed annual ’Tour’), in addition to facilitating involvement with campaigning about LGBT+ issues.
5. Support and Welfare
In Birmingham you have access to a wide range of services for those who identify as LGBT+, both the university and local institutions recognise and fully support LGBT+ students who may face challenges or worries. There are services across the university and Birmingham that offer mental health and sexual health services, as well as dedicated student and staff welfare officers at the university. The Advice and Representation Centre (ARC) in the Student’s Union is great service if you need a friendly face to talk to, regardless if it’s academic or not.
So there you have it, 5 reasons as to why I think Birmingham is such a great LGBT+ city. Once known as a concrete jungle, a state-of-the-art library, the lustrous shopping centre and the restored New Street station have replenished the city centre. More importantly, the queer-friendly megalopolis is thriving, full of culture and community that takes cognizance of diversity and acceptance.