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 - a mere hour from London - anyone can say they “went to Oxford” these days. And a relief to know the smart slapper or clever cutsie you’re petting may even be more than just a pretty face.
Oxford's dreaming spires.
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.

Probably time to up the ante pre-club now: so make your faint excuses and flit outrageously to the arch competitor that is The Castle Tavern, a few doors down on the corner. You’ll have already heard all the gripes about how this establishment has “gone all London” and packs ‘em in, mainly men, for the sake of the Pink Pound. But this place certainly sorts the men from the boys, all spilling out to pose in the streets along its long outdoor ramps all summer, with the Rainbow Room downstairs open ‘til 2am after hours.

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 early June and the Festival itself runs a few days either side of the main parade.

Don't forget to 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.

It’s also worth mentioning the Old Fire Station (OFS) on George Street just around the corner from Northgate. A café-bar by day, OFS hosts the Flirt gay night on Mondays, which is highly popular - especially with that elusive and much sought-after dirty stop-out student crowd.


The Castle Tavern(24 Paradise Street; T: 01865 201510)
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)

Book online here and save money on Oxford hotels

Revised April 2016.


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