When it comes to Birmingham gay bars and clubs, minds naturally wander to the growing scene centred around the Gay Village in Southside. Encompassing the Nightingale Club (still a top-rated destination in town) and the Windmill bar in the 1970s, the area has now expanded to include venues of all sorts – from cabaret clubs to cocktail bars and different kinds of shops. Many credit the growth and expansion of the neighbourhood to the Sexual Offences Act of 1967, which partially decriminalised gay sex.
But look past the Gay Village and find a slew of LGBT-friendly destinations that serve the city with pride. From Sidewalk, a 1930s car showroom turned club, to The Loft Lounge, a decadent bar ideal for a fun pregame, most of these hotspots are the stuff of legend – we wouldn’t be surprised to find entire exhibits dedicated to them at the city's top museums.
Best Birmingham gay bars and clubs
From very humble beginnings, and after relocating three times, The Nightingale has now grown into one of the UK’s most popular gay superclubs, with bus-loads of LGBT revellers and their friends flocking to the club from all corners of the Midlands for monthly programmes and more.
Fancy a night out on a Tuesday? No problem. It’s no exaggeration to say that The Village Inn is lively whatever day of the week it may be—with something happening every night, Monday through to Sunday. Whilst others flitter in and out of identity crises, The Village Inn has stood true to form as one of the longest-established and most popular cabaret bars in the "gaybourhood."
Perfectly placed in the vicinity of Chinatown and the Gay Village, the Loft Lounge is a decadent and fun bar that provides the perfect launchpad for a night on the town. Situated in Bromsgrove Street—close to a host of other gay venues, including Sidewalk, The Village and the famous Nightingale—Loft Lounge is also within easy reach of Chinatown’s restaurants and the Hippodrome theatre.
Originally a 1930s car showroom, Sidewalk was officially "turned" in 1996 under the name Laurie's International Club, in time for Birmingham’s first ever gay pride. Little do people know, this venue is somewhat of a historical cornerstone; with glass panels from floor to ceiling, the bar was the first in the gay village to be opened up to street views, protesting people’s attitudes during a time where gay people were seen as deviants and perverts.
Missing is here and glaringly queer—greeting revellers as the very first point of call upon entering gay town. Together with a larger-than-life statue of Marilyn Monroe (which has somehow found its way onto a rooftop ledge at the front of the building, how did they even get it up there?), a rainbow flag that spans the entire length of the venue and Hurst Street’s iconic lifesize glittery rhino just opposite, Missing certainly takes extravagant to the next level.
The Fox is the only venue in the gay quarter to market itself to gay women and their friends. Owned by the much loved Andy King, The Fox offers women, men, gay, straight, transgender and pretty much anyone a space to socialise, let loose and forget about troubles.
Previously known as The White Swan, the venue was refurbished and renamed in 2008: Eden was born then and has been going strong ever since. Along with being one of the favourites amongst gay men and their friends, Eden supports Birmingham’s transgender community in all the ways it can.
Located right in the middle of Hurst Street, Equator is hard to miss with its large glass frontage and charming interior. It is a particular favourite amongst men and the transgender community.
Chic is Birmingham’s longest running after-hours club and has been going strong since 2001, playing all the very best in deep house, electro and dance. Expect some of the best DJs in the Midlands to spin tunes here all throughout the week.