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Fostering community and belonging through food in the LGBTQ+ community

News | Published  21 February 2024

In honour of this LGBT History Month, we've invited the Manchester-based Queer Food Project to shed light on how they foster community and cultivate a sense of belonging through food.

February marks LGBT History Month, a time dedicated to celebrating the accomplishments and history of the LGBTQ+ community. Last year the Trussell Trust found that “More than a quarter (27%) of people who are LGBTQ+ experience food insecurity, compared to 13% people who are heterosexual.”  Those in the LGBTQ+ community also experience exclusion from the food and farming sector. Despite the prevalence of  these challenges, these experiences are not frequently discussed.

Queer Food Project (QFP) formed in 2020 during the pandemic by members of Trans Mutual Aid Manchester, with recognition of the many barriers queer people can experience to access nutritious home cooked meals, along with the social benefits that sharing food can offer. 

Our first pilot project started during one of the lockdowns, to put people in touch with other queers in their local community at a time when nobody was going out and meeting people organically. The team behind QFP took on different roles that required creating WhatsApp groups for those who had signed up to cook and/or deliver with someone who was, for whatever reason, requesting a weekly meal.

Each time we organised a meal sharing project, we would ask for feedback to learn from the experience of those involved to design the next project. After lockdowns were lifted, we initiated in-person meals. 

Cooking and sharing food together is an incredibly valuable experience for sharing more than just the meal on offer. Being able to spend time as a community is important, where we create space to be ourselves and show care for each other. 

“I didn't stay for the meal on any occasion unfortunately as I find cooking with a group rewarding but socially draining and wanted to build up to sharing the meal. I hope I can keep coming and cooking and feel more at ease eating with everyone over time.” 

Communal meals creates a community kitchen full of queer people, getting involved in the preparation of a meal, and to slip into meaningful conversation over the cooking pots. Cooks willing to lead and share the responsibility on the day of cooking the ingredients that came from supermarket surplus, and invent a meal to serve up to 30 people. 

QFP first delivered meals for queers staying in Manchester over Christmas 2021, in ‘22 and ‘23 we held Queer Mass Dinner, using social media to invite queers to share joy, recognising that this period can be an isolating experience.

After meals, we held a study group for anyone who wanted to explore together: queer theories, principles of permaculture and community organising. 

“It was amazing to attend a non-hierarchical cooking space and share my knowledge of cooking and kitchen safety with queer people who want to cook for themselves and their communities. I often find it hard to make friends in unstructured events as I need a shared task to discuss or focus on, and being in a space where people ask for names and pronouns in the same breath, I felt immediately welcome. I found that everyone was friendly, non-directive, and joyful in their approach to sharing knowledge and learning.” 

What we have managed to achieve has been through temporary spaces. QFP doesn’t have a permanent base to run social food projects, to provide a regular meeting space for our queer community to share skills, interests and experience belonging through a community-based, mutual aid food network. Until then, we serve with what we can access.


Contribution by:

Queer Food Project
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Queer Food Project is a mutual aid group sharing meals, cooked & delivered across Greater Manchester.