Emily Frood has been flooded with love and support since announcing their plans for Edinburgh’s first lesbian bar. (Supplied/Emily Frood)
A trans student has been flooded with an “outpouring of love and support” after announcing she’s quitting university to open Edinburgh’s first lesbian bar.
The capital city of Scotland, Edinburgh has a population of around half a million people – but no dedicated bar for lesbians and queer women to drink at.
Emily Frood, 23, wants to change that. They tweeted on 17 August that “after a lot of thinking” they have “officially withdrawn from my Masters” at Queen Margaret University (QMU) in Edinburgh.
“I’ve finally decided that I am actually going to found Edinburgh’s first lesbian bar,” Emily said. “QMU helped me grow so much with my undergrad but I know what I want to do now. Wish me luck.”
The reaction to her plan to open Edinburgh’s first lesbian bar has been “absolutely amazing”, Emily told PinkNews.
“The amount of support and love and care that I’ve had from people, obviously not not much in person, but online, has been incredible,” they say.
“The whole point of this bar is to curate a larger, more cohesive sense of community,” she adds. “And if that doesn’t happen by having a bunch of queer people and lesbians build this place together, then what am I doing?”
After a lot of thinking I have officially withdrawn from my Masters @QMUniversity. I’ve finally decided that I am actually going to found Edinburgh’s first lesbian bar. QMU helped me grow so much with my undergrad but I know what I want to do now. Wish me luck ❤️🏳️🌈🍾
— Emily Zelda ✨ (@EmiFroodie) August 17, 2021
And while the bar is still in the early planning stages, the big hurdle for Emily was getting past the fear of quitting university – which they’ve now done. The next stage is raising the funds, probably through crowdfunding campaigns.
Emily readily admits that she’s not a money person – “I’m no expert on finance,” she says, “I am a homosexual” – but lots of people have already got in touch, offering help and support.
They add that, while the lesbian bar will serve alcohol, there will be dedicated sober nights so that the space is safe for those who don’t drink, as well as a programme of art and exhibitions to showcase Edinburgh’s LGBT+ artistic community.
Edinburgh’s first lesbian bar will be for ‘all queer women and lesbians’
The lesbian bar Emily envisages will be open to all queer women and lesbians, with accessibility and inclusion “at the forefront” of their mind, although they concede it’s difficult to find buildings in Edinburgh that are fully accessible.
“I want to make sure the space I create is going to be as fully accessible as physically possible,” she says.
And in terms of who the bar will welcome? “I think by advertising it as a lesbian bar, a bar for queer women, people will know whether they belong or not,” they say.
“For the sake of clarity, I’m a non-binary trans lesbian. I would never ignore my trans and non-binary siblings. The history of gender, particularly within the lesbian community, is so complex.
“We don’t really remember or know a lot of that history, because of different cultural events that have made it difficult to keep that history going, and keep it taught. But I know that lesbians are not just women, not just butches and femmes, you know, it’s much more dynamic and complex because it’s personal.
“Basically, if you’re a cis man, don’t turn up,” she sums up. “I want straight people and cis men to feel like they shouldn’t be there. Straight people have gotten very comfortable going into gay places.”
Emily has lived in Edinburgh for the past five years, having been based in Scotland since they moved from Australia aged 15. She considers herself a local, but balk at the suggestion she is “well placed” to start a lesbian bar in Edinburgh.
“Other people have thought about [opening a lesbian bar in Edinburgh], too,” they say. “It sounds super cheesy, but this is one of those things where the cause is bigger than me.”