Kafe Kweer: a sober safe space for the LGBTQ+ community in Edinburgh

Zak | August 2021 | 7 minutes

In this blog we hear from Zak, co-owner of Kafe Kweer, an alcohol-free LGBTQ+ cafe and art space in Edinburgh.

Kafe Kweer is a queer, sober, safe space for the community in Edinburgh. Our space is open to any that would like to use it, no matter what kind of event they would like to run – from book clubs, to stitching groups, to just a coffee and cake evening, we can accommodate anything.

The idea for Kafe Kweer was born out of a need for sober safe spaces in Edinburgh, as most LGBT+ venues are centred around alcohol consumption, and loud music. While these spaces are important for our community, there also needed to be somewhere that sober people, of all ages, could feel that they could exist without the need to drink. Both myself and Oskar, founders of Kafe Kweer, are well-acquainted with the queer nightclubs of Edinburgh, being a DJ and Drag Queen respectively, so we did not want to try and tear down these spaces, but instead add to the LGBT+ landscape of Edinburgh.

"There needed to be somewhere that sober people, of all ages, could feel that they could exist without the need to drink."

In June 2020, both myself and Oskar saw online through a community share group that a small premises was needing a new owner, and we both jokingly said that it would be a good idea to take it on. The community support was incredible, and before we knew it, we had been given the chance to take over the space and create what is now ‘Kafe Kweer’. This wouldn’t have been possible without the generosity of the queer community from all over the world, as we managed to crowdfund nearly £10,000 through online donations to redecorate the space, and to create something beautiful.

Since opening the space in September 2020, the reception has been incredible. Some of the feedback that both myself and Oskar have received has been heart-warming and inspires us to keep growing and making Kafe Kweer better for everyone. We have been lucky, as we took on a space that already had an established customer base, and the locals have welcomed us with open arms as the new owners of the café. The support isn’t just limited to the café aspect: many of the artists, whose work we sell on our shelves, have said that they have sold much more through us than they ever have trying to sell their work online.

We also highlight a queer artist every month, giving them our basement space – which is used as a gallery – to exhibit their work. This helps to give artists a chance to show off their work for little cost, as our gallery space is free to use, making it accessible to those who may not get the chance anywhere else. We want to try and support as many people as we can with our space, as that was one of the key ideals we based our business on. Without the support of our community, Kafe Kweer would not have been possible, so we want to try and give back in as many ways that we can.

"Building safe, sober spaces means building bridges between individuals, and for some it could be such an important lifeline where there was not one previously."

On a larger scale, beyond just our wee space, the importance of sober queer spaces is becoming clearer. Without a place for the sober members of our community, and those who are under 18, many could feel displaced and without a network of support. This isn’t a position anyone wants to be in, and the creation of more sober spaces throughout the UK, not just for the LGBT+ community, but for all, would be incredibly beneficial for the betterment of every community. Building safe, sober spaces means building bridges between individuals, and for some it could be such an important lifeline where there was not one previously. Viva la sober space revolution!

Kafe Kweer is open 7 days a week from 8am until 4pm, and until 8pm on Thursdays. Follow them on Instagram to find out more about their featured artists, latest events, including a monthly Kweer Kraft Fair, free clothes markets to help those who cannot afford to buy gender-affirming clothing, and more.

IMG 8380
Zak and Oskar inside their café.