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  • Writer's pictureMax @theyrequeer

9 Queer spaces to check out in Hastings, East Sussex

It’s a generally recognised fact that Queer spaces are often only easily found in major cities. Of course, years of LGBTQ+ people flocking to the more diverse and anonymous metropolitan centres have resulted in places like London and Manchester becoming hubs for the LGBTQ+ community. However, as rising rents, remote jobs and two years of Covid restrictions take effect, more and more Queer people are relocating out of cities and looking for their community in unexpected areas.

Enter; Hastings

Although it seems unlikely for a traditional seaside town best known for a historical event that took place nearly 1000 years ago to have a thriving Queer scene, Hastings seems to manage it with enthusiasm. So much so that it’s earned the nickname “Gaystings” from its residents (and the even better St Lesbians for neighbouring St Leonards).

Here’s a roundup of some of our favourite Queer spaces & events to visit:

The Fountain on Queens & Trinity Townhouse

Although not explicitly Queer only spaces, both of these pubs are gay owned and super Queer friendly.The venues have great food and a warm and friendly atmosphere with regular events. At Trinity, expect diner-style burgers, fries and and sides, or head to The Fountain for every queer persons favourite meal: brunch. Both venues are classily updated pubs and hotels with all the character of traditional British architecture, just without the “old fashioned” values.

The Forbidden Fruit

Situated right by the beach, The Forbidden Fruit is everything a small town gay bar should be. Happy hours that last way longer than an hour, every sort of Jager Bomb you can imagine, drag shows and mirrors in every single logical (and not so expected) place. Open seemingly every hour of the day, Forbidden Fruit caters to your needs from a boozy night out to a soundtrack of Cher and Tina Turner, to a restorative Sunday roast to cure your hangover. Weekly events include quiz nights, karaoke, LGBTQ+ socials and the best of East Sussex drag.

Club FliQ

Calling femmes & themmes! Club FliQ has you covered for all your queer club needs. A local club night in St Leonards on Sea, founded by local artist Harriet McMorrow, Club FliQ runs nights catering to Queer women, explicitly welcoming cis, trans and GNC people of all sexualities. They’ve already kicked off 2022 with their anti-valentines party, and we can’t wait to see what they do next.

Check out some of their events here.

Queer on the Pier

What’s better than a Queer party? A Queer party on a pier of course. Hosted on the iconic Hastings Pier, this annual festival is heading into its third year of celebrating Hasting’s diverse community with a full day of performances in the UK’s largest (and probably only suspended-over-water) beer garden. Taking place this July 30th, the lineup already includes the iconic Kitty Scott Claws. Tickets are live here.

The Nest

The first in-person venue created by the Eggtooth Project, The Nest is a multidisciplinary space in the heart of the gorgeous Hastings Old Town. A dedicated sober space, The Nest serves great coffee and non-alcoholic cocktails (shout out to their festive mulled punch), as well as great food and cakes. A great place for a pitstop, or to base yourself for some remote work, their ethos is to create a space for everyone, with all profits reinvested back into the community. We especially love their gender-neutral bathrooms and free sanitary products.

A brief interlude here to highlight how incredibly important it is for Queer spaces to exist that aren’t focused around alcohol. Over 25% of LGBTQ+ people have moderate to severe alcohol dependency issues (compared to 5-10% in the general population). In a climate where increasing financial pressure leads to LGBTQ+ businesses relying on alcohol driven events to survive, spaces like The Nest are rare but essential to support.

Dr Jekylls Cabaret

With nightly events (Thursdays to Sundays), including comedy, cabaret, magic and fire against a backdrop of live music, Dr Jekyll has you covered. A long list of cocktails and shows starting from 7 pm and running into the early hours, give you everything you could look for in a Queer cabaret. If you’re more of a daytime person, they’re running their first bottomless brunch this March, with a classic 80s theme and endless rum punch or prosecco.

Hastings Pride

Every August the entirety of Hastings turns rainbow coloured for their annual Pride celebrations. The lack of corporate sponsorships at this event is refreshing and Hastings does a great job of mixing the best of regional price celebrations with local vendors in a classic green open space. The main stage is a family friendly glitter fest, usually with a few recognisable faces but always guaranteed entertainment. 2022 dates will be announced soon, keep up with their Facebook page for all the info.

The Crypt

On one of its first nights opening after Covid, The Crypt hosted the official Hastings Pride afterparty, and it’s commitment to the LGBTQ+ community continues. One of the most unusual club venues we’ve ever visited, this underground space was a cinema in the early 1900s before WW2 bombings and renovation lead to a long life as an entertainment venue. Far from the usual damp and dingy basement club experiences, The Crypt hosts theme nights, comedy and gigs catering to a wide range of tastes.

Have we missed somewhere? Share your favourite Queer spaces in and around Hastings in the comments so we can add them in.

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