DIVA meets the London based collective for queer women and non-binary folk 🏳️🌈
BY SOPHIE GRIFFITHS
Starting with just six people and a WhatsApp group, Queer Culture Club has quickly become one of the best digital hang-out spots for LGBTQI women and non-binary folk. Now creeping up to 6,000 followers on Instagram, the club offers a weekly list of exciting events to connect our community throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.
Whether you’re after yoga lessons, comedy, queer panels or creative classes – Queer Culture Club will have something for you on their packed weekly line-up. DIVA caught up with founder Jessie Pelizzari to find out how the club started and what events we can expect in the coming weeks of lockdown.
DIVA: Tell us about the newly formed Queer Culture Club?
Jessie Pelizzari: Queer Culture Club is a collective for queer women, trans and gender non conforming folks. It was born out of lockdown and the need to connect our community and fight isolation during these difficult times. It really started when my co-founder Ellie and I met one pre-Covid one evening in the Aphrodyke bathroom queue and bonded over a desire to connect with the queer community, not just on the nightclub scene, but outside of it too. We wanted to create a hub for queer people to connect and share their interests, experiences and talents and really feel a sense of community and “home”.
However, both having full time jobs it was an idea that we never really got around to doing anything with, until lockdown hit, and the isolation we saw in the community as a result was the push we needed to really put in the time and effort to get it off the ground. With everyone moving online, we started creating a space, mostly on Instagram initially, for people to connect.
Now we are a completely non-profit organisation, so any money we make on events goes right back into the community by paying our creatives, donating to various charities and growing the QCC platform.
How has it grown since you started?
We started out in April 2020 with a WhatsApp group and about six people on a weekly Zoom and what became really clear, really quickly was just how much talent there is in our community!
Within weeks we had people bringing a diverse range of skills to the table and asking to help run and facilitate different events – never underestimate the heights you can achieve with a (virtual) room full of queers!
What has the reaction been like so far?
We’ve had an overwhelmingly positive reaction from people. One message we received recently which really stood out for me was from someone who said that for her, what could have been a really scary and isolated year has actually been really positive because she has made so many lovely friendships through QCC that have kept her feeling connected. There are definitely a lot of people within our community who were at risk of being very isolated during lockdowns and have found coming along to our regular events a real sense of comfort and joy.
What different events have you been running?
We have run everything from Discussion Clubs, Professional Skills Panels, Book and Film Clubs, Supper Clubs, Comedy Nights (we just had Sophie Duker headlining for us and I’m still not over it!), Cabaret Shows and various Art Classes including Life Drawing. We also run a monthly therapy space with an LGBTQI counsellor and we’ve also had some really exciting collaborative events with organisations like The Grief Network, G(end)er Swap, Sh!, and many more.
What events can we expect in the coming weeks?
We have a collab coming up with Rebel Dykes which I’m really excited about! It’s in honour of LGBT History Month and will cover their archives of the 80s London dyke scene; I’m so excited to bring to life this beautiful, rich history which we didn’t (and still don’t) get to learn about at school!
Do you think it’s been particularly difficult for queer people to socialise throughout the pandemic?
Yes definitely; we see a lot of it in the QCC community, where people have been forced to move back into situations with family who aren’t supportive or who have lost vital outlets and safe spaces that were accessible to them prior to the pandemic.
What do you think the future holds for queer spaces?
It’s a real worry that we may lose a lot of queer spaces off the back of this pandemic. However, what’s been really lovely is the amount of support we’ve had from people really wanting to invest time and energy into grass roots initiatives to help. For example, the wonderful folks at Balans in Soho offered us a regular space for our art classes (when such things were allowed!) which we can’t wait to go back to, and we have run events at spaces such as the Apple Tree and Poster Hauss who have both said that their main goal is to support our community. I feel really positive in the determination to keep queer spaces surviving and thriving.
What’s the first thing you want to do with your queer peers when we’re out of lockdown?
Well our Entertainment Director, Victoria Olsina, is in talks with a very well known comedy club about launching our comedy night with them which I am SO excited about, so that will be top of my list.
From a personal perspective, I just can’t wait to go dancing in Soho again. Who knows what exciting people and wonderful opportunities await in the next toilet queue!
Make sure you follow Queer Culture Club over on Instagram to stay up to date with all the latest queer events on offer!
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