And they’re off! Forget Cambridge: OutUK’s own little fresher Adrian Gillan strips 'em down for a boy bender binge to examine if Oxford really makes the gay grade. The
ultimate university challenge: marks out of ten for looks, brains and sheer thrill of the chase!
Ah, the dreamy spires and crowds of bright, brainy boy babes who’ve just left home,
hungry for new knowledge. But being a mere hour from London by train, anyone can say they “went
to Oxford” these days. What's more it's such a relief to know that the smart slapper or clever cutsie
you’re currently petting may be considerably more than just a pretty face.
Oxford's dreaming spires.
Without question there are lots of gay men in Oxford and to be honest
most of them are pretty great, particularly those at university. Some people picture Oxford as
being predominently straight, white and Establishment - and indeed there are some people who are like that, but
the city can also be rather rainbow, glamourously glitzy and really quite gay.
Of course, don’t loose your head in bookish boys and neglect the truly local produce
either. Whatever your taste, most of the action occurs only five minutes’ walk from
the train station. Oxford's oldest gay pub, indeed the oldest gay pub in the UK outside of
London or Brighton, can be found here. It's the Jolly Farmers on the sublimely named
Paradise Street. This is ye olde community hub of a pub in town, where queer locals
of all genders and ages will merrily prattle away the hours, mulling over life and
love or reliving the recent Pride blow-by-blow. Also does good food throughout the
day up until early evening.
The Plush Lounge is Oxford's only gay nightclub offering drinks offers, a broad range
of live acts and some resident DJs. It's open Fridays and Saturdays from 10pm - 4am. Fridays are
Skinter Fridays, where 7 drinks are only £1.50 each all night and then it's Bent Saturdays, where
everyone is unashamedly not straight. Entry price is £5 (students with student ID £3). There are
selected drinks for 99p before midnight on Saturdays, and fishbowl cocktails available too. The music
which is mainly gay pop classics and R&B can be variable, with some great reviews some nights and less so on others.
The unofficial cruising ground is the parkland the
other side of the ice rink near Oxpens Road and, incidentally, the site of Oxford Pride, a celebration of lesbian,
gay, bi, trans and queer life in Oxfordshire. The events supporting or arranged by Oxford Pride
promote awareness of LGBT issues by providing information, education and entertainment in a safe
and encouraging environment. Oxford Pride is a membership based non-profit organisation
run by a dedicated team of volunteers. Oxford Pride Parade & Event take place most years in late May to early June and the Festival
itself runs a few days either side of the main parade.
As for 2018, this year's event starts on 25th May and runs until 3rd June and it's theme is True Colours. It starts with
a colourful community Parade through the beautiful city centre that brings everyone together in a welcoming
and inclusive environment.
Worth mentioning is the Old Fire Station (OFS) on George Street. It's a rather enjoyable venue
which is open to all but holds a number of gay-friendly or gay-themed events. A café-bar by day, OFS hosts the Flirt gay night on
Mondays, which is highly popular - especially with that elusive much sought-after
dirty stop-out student crowd, who like to dress to impress.
Looking Out Over View Of Oxford Skyline.
Just around the corner you can also check out Oxford's LGB
Centre, Northgate Hall - on St. Michael’s Street, just five minutes’ walk back in
towards town. This has variously been described as a cross between a church hall and
a school canteen, but no less charming for that. It functions like a club at nights,
playing pure cheese, but has more of an atmosphere where you can actually chat to
your friends or get to know new people if that’s your want. The venue is members-only,
but you can often find a friendly, loose member hanging out near the door happy to
sign you in as guest if you can’t stump up the small fee. It’s boys and girls on a
Thursday and is quite literally the only place to be on a Saturday.
THE LITTLE BLACK BOOK|
Jolly Farmers (20 Paradise St; T: 01865 793759)
Northgate Hall / Oxford's LGB Centre (St. Michael’s St; T: 01865 200249)
Old Fire Station / OFS (40 George Street; T: 01865 297190)
Oxford Pride (Oxpens Rd, around the park next to the ice rink; Website)
The Plush Lounge (27 Park End St; T: 01865 247966; facebook)
Book online here and save money on Oxford hotels
Revised May 2018.