Image Credit: Nelli Mooney
A crowdfunder for Lunar Cafe, York’s first dedicated LGBTQ+ space, has raised £5,565 with 285 supporters in just 56 days. At present, they have no concrete opening date, but hope to open their doors sometime in July. Lunar Cafe’s founder, Nelli Mooney, a 25-year-old non-binary interdisciplinary artist (pictured), described the response to the crowd-funder as “absolutely incredible”.They said that “the whole YorkLGBTQ+ community has expressed the absolute necessity of this kind of space to open in York, and we have nowhere to go... until July!” Nelli has secured premises on the first floor above Portal Bookshop in the city centre.
The University’s own Sober Society is one of Lunar Cafe’s 285 supporters, raising £49.95 through a Fundraiser Pride Picnic on 5 June, in place of their usual Pride Month celebrations. A spokesperson from SoberSoctoldNousethat they felt Lunar Cafe was a place they could donate to that“would result in a tangible impact we could see in the local community” and that they were “particularly excited to have an LGBTQ+ space that isn’t focused around drinking, as historically many of them haven’t been”. They went on to say that, “to the rest of the population, it might seem like LGBT+people are equal, but when you experience fear, shame and discrimination that comes along with being LGBT+every day you truly understand why these places are important.
Nelli said that the lack of dedicated LGBTQ+ spaces in York had really upset them, and so they “rolled their sleeves up” expecting to open in 2022. The huge response has, of course, significantly brought this opening date forward. Nelli also highlighted that the response showed how much the community values a sober space, as “there are a lot of addiction issues within the community”. They previously described to York Press that they found the London LGBTQ+scene “seemed to focus on drink-ing or taking drugs”.
Though Nelli promises that Lunar will offer the expected cafe fare of LGBTQ+ flag cakes and ethically sourced coffee from Abstract Coffee Roasters, the space will also offer additional services to the community. They will host a queer hairstylist to help trans customers feel like their “most authentic selves” and a small shop selling items made by local queer creatives, and LGBTQ+ books. Nelli described the space as “something unexpected, unusual and lots of fun”, with people already expressing an interest in holding small wedding ceremonies in the cafe.
Lunar Cafe’s Instagram @lunarcafeyork is dedicated not only to publicising the cafe, but to educating followers on LGBTQ+ issues. For example, Nelli shared a TikTok about binder safety, and publicised the #inwiththebins campaign, which is aiming to get sanitary bins into men's toilets to help both trans men and cis men with medical issues.
Matthew Rogan, one of YUSU’s LGBTQ+Officers, said that “York doesn't have much of a ‘scene’ for the LGBTQ+ community, and nor are there many safe spaces for queer people to meet each other, so for a new LGBTQ+ cafe to be opened a fantastic step!” He added that it will “enhance the LGBTQ+ experience simply by being a space for queer people to meet, chill and feel safe” and that they would be visiting “as soon as it opens”.