By Hannah Thompson, Second Year English
Formed this year by students Henry and Jamie, Queer Haus of Bristol is looking forward to hosting its first event on 4 February, which they hope will grow into a wider network grounded in inclusivity and collaboration. Epigram spoke with the collective to highlight the event further.
Bristol is often perceived as an inherently queer city, where differences of identities and self-expression are celebrated. However, as the organisers of Queer Haus noted, there are not enough safe spaces for members of the LGBTQ+ community to truly express themselves. The gay clubs frequented by students are often based in capitalistic profit-making, as queer rhetoric has been harnessed by the owners with the intent of financial gain.
Furthermore, many feel as though the queer identity of these establishments has been diminished through the increased popularisation of gay clubs within the general student community. The increased presence of straight people in gay clubs has left many feeling insecure about the way that they present or dress in the very space which should prioritise free queer expression.
Therefore, founders Henry and Jamie came up with the idea of Queer Haus of Bristol, aiming to provide an alternative to this rather bleak vision of LGBTQ+ spaces available. The most important thing for the organisers is their basis of absolute inclusivity. Henry was keen to point out that Queer Haus events will strive to welcome absolutely everyone, regardless of identity or how one wishes to express themselves. They assert that ‘the only things not welcome are homophobia, transphobia, racism, misogyny and any form of bigotry’. Where some spaces have failed by prioritising the cis white man, Queer Haus resolves to be, above all else, a safe space for all where one can celebrate themselves and others.
And what exactly will the collective be organising? Initially, Henry and Jamie are planning a house party, a social event where people will also have the opportunity to share their talents, such as music or performance art. The intention is to create a collaborative and dynamic environment, where people’s talents can be showcased in a judgement-free safe space. However, Henry acknowledged that they understand that loud music and a party environment is not for everyone. Therefore, they hope that Queer Haus will develop beyond this to become a network for people to find others in the community, with events such as picnics anticipated for warmer months.
The founders also weighed in on the recently pertinent debate about the presence of straight people in queer spaces. Henry explained that although the Queer Haus events will be planned with the LGBTQ+ community as its central focus, they will not exclude straight people from attending, in line with their ethos of total inclusivity.
It was to Henry and Jamie’s excitement and surprise that the movement grew so rapidly, with many reaching out in support or with ideas of collaboration. This clearly provides evidence for the prevalent sentiment that something more is needed to consolidate a community of LGBTQ+ people in Bristol. If you too would like to aid the collective (whether with art, performance or simply a desire to get involved), they can be accessed through @queer_haus_bristol on Instagram.
The organisers are looking forward to the long-awaited debut of their planning this week with the intention that it will be the first event of many. More importantly, they hope that it will be a crucial steppingstone in the evolution of a joyous and celebratory community of queer people in Bristol.
Featured Image: Queer Haus Bristol logo | Source: Instagram | @iobinad