For those of you who are new to Plymouth or have recently come out, you might not know an awful lot about the LGBTQ+ scene here in the city. Seeing as it's LGBT History Month, I thought I'd give you some more information about the help and support available and the places to be!
Plymouth College of Art and the Students' Union
You may or may not know that within the Student Union Executive Committee there are two LGBTQ+ Representatives, one for FE students and one for HE students. These students help to ensure equality and representation within the college by sitting in on committee meetings and regularly meeting with key members of staff (including the Senior Leadership Team and Principal).
The LGBTQ+ Representative for HE students is also the leader of the LGBTQ+ Society, which has an online page and group for socialising and online events such as Ru Paul Watch Parties, as well as getting together regularly in person for society meets and socials, like the LGBTQ+ Bar Night during Freshers earlier this academic year.
Not only this, but your Student Union Team is very diverse; with lots being members of the LGBTQ+ community, we all work together to accurately represent all students, as well as making events and activities as equal and inclusive for all as we can!
LGBTQ+ Businesses and Community Groups
Plymouth has lots of LGBTQ+ friendly and a couple of specific LGBTQ+ pubs, bars, clubs and other nightlife venues dotted around the city. OMG Plymouth is where a lot of the younger gay crowd tends to hang out; it's a bar during the evening and a dance club at night, and is also a regular host of drag shows. OMG is based right on the Barbican and is only a short walk away from the city centre, with Ocean House and other accommodations nearby. There is also The Swallow, a gay bar and nightclub near the Barbican, which is littered with mirror balls and chandeliers and are regular hosts of karaoke nights and drag shows. The newest LGBTQ+ venue is Gossip Plymouth, a bar close to OMG and The Swallow, it celebrates Plymouth's LGBTQ+ community and hosts regularly drag shows (including a weekly open drag night) and karaoke nights.
The Queer Store is an online Etsy shop ran by local artists and PCA alumni Paige Nicolas and her wife Nikolas that celebrate pop, queer and LGBTQ+ culture through illustrated merchandise such as greetings cards and wrapping paper. The set up their shop during lockdown after noticing the lack of LGBTQ+ cards on offer. We are hoping to host them in the SU for one of our local business Pop Up Shops as soon as government guidance allows, but in the meantime you can find them online here.
Pride in Plymouth is a non-profit Community Interest Company that brings people and groups together to celebrate, promote the diversity and talent that exist within the LGBTQ+ communities in the city. Their goal is to eliminate the discrimination and social isolation many local LGBTQ+ people face. Not only do they host the annual Pride event, but their team of volunteers work year-round on events and projects to bring people together, strengthen the LGBTQ+ voice, improving the services and improve social scene for all LGBTQ+ people who live, visit, work or study in Plymouth. They also support LGBTQ+ asylum seekers and refugees housed here, working with other groups and organisations.
As part of their work, they work with Cafe Kiss on North Street to run a bi-weekly coffee group and social for the LGBTQ+ community in the city. The group meets every Wednesday from 6pm at the cafe as an informal social event, but they also discuss and contribute to the plans of the main summer pride event.
The LGBT Archive is an award winning community resource that shines a light on the rich life and histories from the Plymouth LGBT+ community both past and present. You can visit the archive by clicking this link.
The Rainbow Connection is an exciting new project, being funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, and being brought about by a partnership between Cornerstone Praxis (University of Plymouth), Pride in Plymouth and Barnardos along with The Box, Plymouth and Devon Police, Babcock International and a number of schools in the city of Plymouth. The trail has been developed with Pride in Plymouth for their latest project ‘The Rainbow Connection’. The trail uses archival images along with audible historical accounts from members of Plymouth’s LGBTQ+ community. The three mile route runs from Stonehouse to the Barbican, stopping at 17 sites with a connection to LGBTQ+ people, events and stories – users can even follow the route with a real-time map. The route is accessible by wheelchair, with one small alternative route suggested near the end. You can find out more via the Visit Plymouth website.
The Box are also celebrating LGBT History Month in various ways this year. One of which is Culture Club, which is for people who identify as LGBT+ to explore The Box’s collections in ways which have meaning for them. The group will be meeting as an online forum with sessions taking place between March and August. You can email email@example.com to find out more. Four new digital micro commissions which share contemporary experiences of Plymouth’s LGBT+ community will be online at the end of the month and a new display featuring the story of athletics champion Mark Weston will be in the ‘Active Archives’ gallery when The Box reopens. Later this year, there will also be a display of Pride’s Rainbow Connection Project; a multi-partnership project with schools, this August. A new film featuring both archive and contemporary footage reflecting upon LGBT+ experiences within the city will be played on the Media Lab Big Screen when The Box reopens.
If you're in need of some support, there are lots of places in the city with helps and support available. The Zone (who offer sexual health services and have a wealth of information online) have a great list of groups and services available, which you can find here, and I've included some key support below:
Pride in Plymouth offer a confidential third party hate crime and incident reporting service. They offer advice regarding the options available and will support you through the process, and can also report on your behalf. They have recently launched a drop-in third party reporting service at 170 Rendle Street.
The Eddystone Trust provides information and sexual health services (HIV testing, C Card, etc.) across the South West. The Students' Union are part of the C Card scheme, meaning you are able to sign up and receive free condoms and lube from us.
Not Alone provides support and advice for transgender and non-binary people aged 16+. Their group was set up as a safe place for sharing thoughts and feelings for those who need it and during the pandemic, the group meets online via Zoom. Their website has key information such as name changing and services available to you.
Sexual Health in Plymouth (SHiP) are a friendly, non judgemental centre for sexual health and HIV at Derriford Hospital; all of the tests and treatments that they offer are free. Their website has a lot of information and gender and sexuality. Every Tuesday afternoon you can find them at University of Plymouth where they run the Focus clinic; specifically for LGBTQ+ sexual health, it is free and open to anyone.
You are also welcome to speak to the Student Support team here at Plymouth College of Art or any of the Student Union team!
Student Union President