Meet the collective creating safe spaces for queer folks in London
Starting a collective based around live events months before a global pandemic doesn’t sound much like a recipe for success. But for Queer Culture Club co-Founders Jessie Pelizzari and Ellie Wolfe, the need for what they had created — safe spaces where queer folks could make friends — meant that their collective not only survived, but grew.
“When the pandemic hit suddenly, the need got greater,” Jessie says. “Because suddenly, [there was] all this isolation within the community, especially for people who maybe couldn’t be out at home or couldn’t be comfortable at home.”
Queer Culture Club is a collective of queer women, gender non-conforming folks, and trans folks that hosts a range of events and meet-ups. Like Kindred, the collective was born from the need to find community in London.
Queer Culture Club co-Founders Ellie Wolfe and Jessie Pelizzari
More specifically, it was spurred by Jessie and Ellie’s experiences trying to make queer friends. “When I moved to London, I didn’t really know anyone,” says Jessie. “I sort of started going out to nightclubs and things like that, which were really fun, but I found it quite difficult as an adult to really form good, proper friendships that way.”
A chance encounter with Ellie, who lived near Jessie, revealed that she was having a similar experience. The two then cooked up the idea of building a community that wasn’t focused completely around club nights.
But it wasn’t until the pandemic, when their events moved online, that the collective really took off. “We started off just with a Zoom call, and then found really quickly that we had all these people coming along. Just really talented people in all different fields who were looking for a platform to showcase their skills or their experiences, and run events,” says Jessie.
From art classes to book clubs, through to dance parties and comedy nights, Queer Culture Club hosts a range of events that allow people to connect via shared interests. Online life drawing has been especially popular, along with online comedy, variety, and cabaret shows.
Creating sober spaces for queer people is also especially important — something Jessie says community members have expressed a real need for and interest in. “[For] people who aren’t willing to go out and drink, there are a lot less spaces out there,” she adds.
Jessie is optimistic when I ask her if she thinks that London is becoming a safer space for queer people. “During lockdown, we have certainly felt that things have been really difficult. I think a lot of people were in difficult situations,” she says. “I hear a lot of stories about people who are in situations where they’re not out and they’ve lost access to community, because they’ve had to move out of certain homes or move back in with family.
“So I think there’s a lot of that going on, but generally speaking, I do think it’s becoming safer. There’s a real movement at the moment of freedom of expression, which is really beautiful.”
Queer Culture Club is currently exploring the possibility of getting charity status, while also considering various ways that they could secure funding. Ultimately, the collective would like to expand the team and create even more events — including more art workshops and even potentially hosting sports tournaments.
While in some ways it feels like London is becoming a more inclusive place, there is still a need for queer safe spaces — especially as the pandemic has seen many venues sadly close their doors. “A space that’s by us, for us, where we can be free, be safe, be ourselves, that’s so important,” says Jessie. “And it’s really lacking, I think.”
Queer Culture Club is a collective of queer women, gender non-conforming folks, and trans folks based in London. They are hosting a Queer comedy evening at Kindred on Saturday, July 24th. Learn more and get your tickets here
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