After a crowdfunder took off, a York-based artist looks set to open up the city’s first LGBTQ+ café in 2022.
Nelli Mooney, a 25-year-old non-binary interdisciplinary artist, is over halfway through their crowdfunding campaign, aiming to open up York’s first LGBTQ+ café in 2022.
LUNAR café – the name being inspired by the artist’s long-haired black cat – has plans to not only offer its queer and quirky clientele rainbow cakes and ethically sourced coffee courtesy of Abstract Coffee Roasters but will also provide a space for poetry readings, photography exhibitions and even weddings.
And it has already raised more than £3,000 of its £5,000 crowdfunder target.
The vision for the café arose when Nelli noticed that the city lacked a clearly defined space for members of the LGBTQ+ community, especially one that promotes sobriety.
“I used to live in London and spent a lot of time in both Soho and East London areas. I loved it, however, I wasn’t comfortable with how the London LGBTQ+ scene seemed to focus on drinking or taking drugs,” they said.
“I just wanted to meet people like myself and connect – hence the idea of a coffee shop. I wanted to create a safe and cool place I personally wanted to go to, where the floors aren’t sticky, and you don’t have to shout over the music to ask who their favourite Queer Eye host is!”
In-house trans hair salon
“My dream for Lunar Café is to be a super quirky and cool spot in York, a place where people ‘pilgrimage’ to and from around the North (or why not from all over the UK!),” Nelli said.
“I want both the design and the concept to be super unique, to contrast the wonderful medieval architecture in York.”
As well as being a sober spot for York’s LGBTQ+ community, the café also aims to encourage its clientele to feel comfortable in their own skin, with spaces for an in-house trans hair salon and a visiting make-up artist being drawn into the floorplan.
Nelli said: “When people transition, it can be extremely difficult for them to go to a hairdresser and say ‘I am trans.
“Can you cut/dye my hair to make me feel gender euphoria rather than dysphoria? Or could you tell me a little bit about wigs?’” Nelli explains.
“The hair stylist might panic and say something that they don’t mean or they simply cannot unlearn the male/female binaries of hairstyling for that particular customer.
“Or, even if a salon would be supportive of trans people, a transitioning person will still feel anxious and fear of being judged.
“A hair stylist specialising in trans hair will help the transgender person feel comfortable in their own skin by truly helping the customer look and feel great – that’s what hairsalons are all about, right?”
Nelli is founder of Lux Lucet Zine, an arts and literature digital magazine aimed at providing a platform for voices that would otherwise be left unheard.
Being non-binary, they know all too well the problems associated with the gender binaries that modern day society is very much defined by, with one particularly recurring issue being having to repeatedly explain their identity.
“I don’t belong to either gender category – as soon as I first came across the term ‘non-binary’ I knew that this was it.
“Sometimes cis-people say to me, ‘Why do you need a label, why can’t you just be you?’.
“I personally like labels that help me define my identity. I don’t see anything wrong about that. It’s like asking a man or a woman, ‘Why do you give yourself a label of being a ‘strong independent woman’ or a ‘nice man’?’
“I want to create a space where all genderqueer people feel welcome and not having to worry about having their gender identity questioned.”
To help bring Nelli’s vision to life, you can donate to the LUNAR Café crowdfunder here.