A Pride Playlist: Food, Connection, and Community

By: Halley Crane

What we choose to consume can provide clues about our most intimate needs and characteristics. For the LGBTQ+ community, food can be a powerful connector.

In celebration of Pride 2022, we’ve compiled moments from the HRN archives that celebrate places where queer identity and food intersect: within hospitality, agriculture, and the chosen family. These zesty biographies, hearty business plans, and stories of resilience provide a snapshot into a few LBGTQ+ leaders’ lives. In the following episodes, queer folks gather around kitchen tables, desks, and fields to discuss how their physical and mental nourishment have been impacted by their identities. 

Queer the Table Episode 4: Fall in Love with Truelove Seeds: Nico sits in a park with queer seed keeper and social justice activist Owen Taylor. They talk about how seed keeping is tied to cultural sovereignty and, maybe, queer family building. This episode also features music from Owen's band, My Gay Banjo! 

Opening Soon Episode 93: Opening HAGS: Hospitality for All People: Opening a restaurant is a challenge. In the sense of the word that it’s hard, it’s expensive, stressful, and much more. This episode's guests are tackling that challenge, of course, but they’re also using their restaurant as a challenge to the industry, to the norms that have been created, and the exclusions that have been present in their careers and throughout the industry. They aim to build an experience that serves everyone equally and thoughtfully, with acceptance, balance, and fun.

Tune in to hear from Chef Telly Justice and Camille Lindsley of HAGS, a community-driven tasting menu restaurant in NYC’s East Village by Queer women for everyone. Chef Telly has been working in restaurants for over 15 years, including stints at anarchist vegan restaurants in Atlanta to Michelin Star tasting menus in NYC. Camille Lindsley is a certified sommelier and heads up the beverage program. Expect a fun, thoughtful, and communicative brand of hospitality that centers queerness at HAGS.

Queer the Table Episode 19:Something Different About Us: Host Nico Wisler is joined by John Birdsall, whose biography "The Man Who Ate Too Much: The Life of James Beard," released in 2020. The book explores Beard's queerness, and the ways in which it trickled into his recipes, teachings, and American food culture as a whole.

Opening Soon Episode 82: A New Kind of Hospitality Community Space with Libby Willis of KIT: Since the start of the pandemic chefs and entrepreneurs have been finding new ways to get their business off the ground, being immensely creative to minimize their risk while generating a name for themselves. Working together and collaborating has been a way, in recent years, for the culinary world to grow and share audiences. A more permanent collaboration can be a way to share the burden of overhead costs associated with business operations.

One such business or collective is doing just that. KIT, in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, is bringing together  queer-owned food businesses in one space to share their communities and further their concept. Guest Libby Willis, who you probably know as the co-founder of the beloved restaurant and queer community space, Meme’s Diner, introduced KIT in the former Meme’s space in June of 2021.

Queer the Table Episode 17: Changing Shape: Trans folks are 8x more likely than cis folks to be diagnosed with an eating disorder. Host Nico Wisler shares their own experience with trying to untangle their gender dysphoria from their feelings and behaviors around food.

Queer the Table Episode 18: Rest + Resilience With Ianne Fields Stewart: Nico speaks to Ianne Fields Stewart. Ianne is the founder of the Okra Project, an organization that hires Black trans chefs to go into the homes of other Black trans people to prepare a delicious home-cooked meal, building community along the way.

Why Food Episode 128: Jesse Szewczyk: Pride Cooking: Cohosts Vallery and Ethan for a conversation with Jesse Szewczyk, food writer and author of the cookbook Tasty Pride. They discuss his career in food media, his thoughts on the ongoing shifts in the industry and the complicated history of Queer advocacy and allyship in the larger struggle for equality.

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