We took PiNC Arts across the border recently on a trip to the Scottish capital.
We wanted to start off the new year with a bang and get out of Carlisle to experience queer culture in a different city that is bigger than ours.
We had four young people with us, and a filmmaker called Miles.
He was a bit of a fly on the wall with all of his cameras, and documented our wanderings around Edinburgh.
We started the day right with croissants, the breakfast of champions, on the train, as well as bananas for the much needed potassium!
We first went to the Lighthouse radical bookshop, which was amazing.
The place was full of queer books, books about acitivism, politics, philosophy, and everything else, we just had such a good time there looking through so many different books.
One of our young folk was really excited because they always say that they’re really into maths and want to be a computer programmer, but the ‘maths gays’ are never represented!
But, in that shop, there was a book about two chess players that fell in love, and it was so sweet to see a book written about something she was so passionate about.
The shop also has a board game cafe with hundreds of options.
After that, we wandered through a park and soaked in the sights and sounds of the city, appreciating the beautiful architecture along the way.
For lunch, we went to Kafe Kweer, a self-titled sober space for queer people who don’t want to socialise around booze and drugs.
They do loads of poetry readings and talks, free STI testing, and rolling exhibitions.
When we were there it was perfect, they put us in the art and exhibition room, so we ate our lunch inside a queer art exhbition.
A lot of the art resembled comics, and covered topics around gender non conformity.
The pieces expressed moments of gender euphoria, beautiful stories.
The owner talked to us about what it is like to run a place like that, and he said they get a lot of parents coming in to speak to them about their children who are queer.
It’s a real community hub for support, especially when it comes to people who are allies.
We then wandered into town and although we didn’t go into the main touristy places, we got a good glimpse of the castle.
We then wandered through this market with wonderful food, and everyone got a Korean corndog.
Then we got the bus to Lavender Menace, an LGBT book archive.
They were the first LGBT bookshop in Scotland, and the second in the UK, starting in 1983 selling books at fairs.
They were highly persecuted in that time for bringing in ‘indecent materials’.
They would import books from overseas and would get them confiscated at customs, and they had to order books under pseudonyms so they wouldn’t be charged.
We went to their archives where examples of queer Scottish culture was gathered, similar to what we’re doing at the moment, trying to capture stories of rural queerness.
With the help of two of the people there, Keava and Eleanor, books were picked out.
They bought us cake and coffee, and we had a lovely time reading and learning about history.
Tired from walking, we got the train home.
On the way back, one of the young people told us what they enjoyed about the day, and for them, it was just great to get out of Carlisle and into a different city.
A lot of them will be going to uni in September, so it’s great for them to be experiencing city life and for LGBT people to be able to access queer spaces like that.
It was really powerful for us all to know there are havens out there.