February is LGBTQ+ history month – an incredibly important month for raising awareness surrounding the community. A month to recognise the history of the LGBTQ+ movements, the month allows the community to reclaim their past, celebrate progress and create a more equal future. In honour of the month, we’ve decided to break down some of the South West’s most exciting queer-owned and queer-friendly businesses and celebrate their achievements within the business world.
Queer Owned Businesses in the South West
Known for its charming plants and warm décor, Mila is a queer-owned business with two sites across Bristol. Importantly, the LGBTQ+ community is at the heart of everything Mila does, with the shop specialising in stocking its plants and homeware items from queer producers and artists. Leaving empty handed after a visit to Mila is a near impossible task.
Dooo is a queer-owned, genderless hair salon based in Bristol that is innovating the hairdressing game. Using the Dooo app, booking a haircut is as easy as ordering a takeaway, with the platform allowing users to quickly connect with a stylist and book their appointment. With inclusivity at the core of Dooo’s values, they designed this system to suit those who face discrimination in the hair industry, whether that be through being less mobile, or from a marginalised community.
Dating back over 170 years, The Phoenix has long been prominent in Bristol’s pub scene and still remains a popular spot in the city today. Queer owned, the pub is a favourite amongst the LGBTQ+ community, with the venue hosting regular queer club nights and LGBTQ+ networking events. Host to a large, sun-trapped terrace, you’d be silly to not enjoy a pint in the sun here when Summer comes around.
Changing the game when it comes to nail salons, this queer owned business strives to dismiss gender stereotypes. An ethos constructed on owner Nathan Taylor’s past discomforts in visiting nail bars, the space is neutral, with the aim of ensuring all genders and sexualities feel welcome in the salon. With a background in fine art, Nathan’s designs are unique with experimentalism at the core of his creativity.
Queer Friendly businesses in the South West
The Hideout in Taunton has quickly forged a reputation for being one of the town’s most LGBTQ+ friendly pubs. Launching its weekly LGBTQ+ evening, on Tuesdays, last year, the pub has become a popular spot for the local community. Perfect for any time and occasion, the pub is ideal for both a relaxed drink over lunch or is the place to be for a big night out.
Located by Bristol’s iconic harbourside, The Watershed is an independent cinema and arts centre. Regularly lauded as one of Bristol’s best queer friendly venues, The Watershed plays host to ‘Queer Reads’ a bi-monthly LGBTQ+ book club which puts the focus on the work of queer authors. On top of this, the venue has also held queer film festivals in the past. Working with Bristol Pride last year to present ‘Queer Vision’, the festival brought a diverse programme of LGBTQ+ film releases to the big screen and sought to put the focus on directors from the community who so often go under the radar.
One of Bristol’s newest and most exciting venues to open in the city centre, Lost Horizon plays host to a wide range of events. The venue is home to ‘MISSCOTEQUE’ a club night that aims to bring a reimagination of Bristol’s 80s lesbian disco scene, whilst putting the focus on LGBTQ+ and female DJs and performers.
Old Market Tavern may appear an old-fashioned British pub on the surface, however, through its doors it holds modern attitudes and a thriving LGBTQ+ community. With a sunny beer garden for the summer and warm, cosy interiors for the colder months, this really is the perfect pub all year round. The is also host to a wide selection of board games and even holds regular game nights for visitors to take part in.
At Forward, we welcome businesses from all backgrounds, regardless of sexuality, and recognise the importance of empowering these historically marginalised communities. Representation and raising awareness of the community is vital and below we have provided a range of resources that can help you find out more about the importance of the month or places to seek support below.
Stonewall LGBTQ+ History Month resource hub: https://www.stonewall.org.uk/our-work/campaigns/lgbt-history-month-resource-hub
British Library history of LGBTQ+ rights: https://www.bl.uk/lgbtq-histories/articles/a-short-history-of-lgbt-rights-in-the-uk
Gaywest support group: https://www.gaywest.org.uk/
LGBTQ+ mental health support: https://talktotherainbow.co.uk/blog/general