Queer As Food

Queer As Food

A series exploring the role of food in LGBTQ+ communities.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Pride celebrations commemorating the protest efforts at the Stonewall Inn in New York’s Greenwich Village. Among others, Marsha P. Johnson, a Black gender non-conforming person, refused to be harassed by the police. The patrons of the bar fought back, and the ensuing days of riots were a turning point for the gay rights movement. 

Police brutality is the tip of the iceberg in reckoning with the inequalities in this country. As a food-focused person, I feel hyper-aware of the hunger issues that plague the U.S. due to prejudicial food distribution and the misplaced priorities of agricultural policy. There is enough food. We just haven’t done a very good job at getting it to those who need it. 

As a cook and a member of the queer community, I’ve been interested in the intersectionality of food and drink with gender and sexuality. This Pride month—in the time of Covid and protests and long-overdue change—I’ve spent time considering the role of food in the queer community. How does it nourish, please, connect, and inspire queer people? What is “Queer Food”? What is “Gay Food”? Is it a cuisine? A feeling? A movement? Where is Queer Food eaten, and by whom?

The idea of Queer Food, I thought, must be as big and varied as the community itself. I was curious about the perspectives of other people, and how their opinions were informed. So, Food & Wine editors reached out to a wide array of queer people in the food and entertainment industries to ask these questions. Here's what they had to say.

John Birdsall

In researching The Man Who Ate Too Much, biographer John Birdsall uncovered James Beard's letters and diaries, and got more than a glimpse into the semi-secret queer life of America's most celebrated cook.

By John Birdsall, as told to Mary-Frances Heck

Credit: Photo of James Beard by Bob Sibilia / Photo of John Birdsall by Bart Nagel

Several of the country's leading queer hospitality pros discuss gender in the kitchen, why gay bars aren't for everyone, and how to be more inclusive on both sides of the house.

By Mary-Frances Heck

Queer Food Roundtable
Credit: Mary-Frances Heck
The Okra Project

The Okra Project and its founder Ianne Fields Stewart are seeking to honor the lives of Black trans people, starting with healthy, home-cooked meals.

By Paul O. Mims

Credit: Yeji Kim

Poet and transgender activist Stephanie Burt reflects on a moment in her childhood that revealed a truth she had yet to discover.

By Stephanie Burt

Stephanie Burt Poem
Credit: Eric Jeon
Queer Food | Top Chef Melissa King

"I want everyone to be welcome in that space, regardless what color skin you have or what your sexuality is; food has no boundaries."

By Melissa King, as told to Mary-Frances Heck

Credit: Bravo / Getty Images

The 2019 F&W Best New Chef opens up about building a queer kitchen, their trans pride, and the future of restaurants.

By Paxx Caraballo Moll, as told to Maria Yagoda

Queer Food | Paxx Caraballo Moll
Credit: Ramona Rosales
Jennifer Crawford

MasterChef Canada winner Jennifer E. Crawford on finding self-created joy in Queer Food.

By Kerry Manders

Credit: Courtesy of Jennifer Crawford

The Pose co-creator explores food's starring role in the groundbreaking TV show.

By Aaron Hutcherson

Queer Food | Pose | Steven Canals
Credit: Ariel Pomerantz
Queer Food | Maria-Lewis Ryan | The L-Word

"Cooking for pleasure and not having to worry about feeding your family is not my experience of what it feels like to be queer."

By Marja-Lewis Ryan, as told to Mary-Frances Heck

Credit: Courtesy of Showtime

"As awful as the pandemic is, I'm realizing that I have a lot of great memories, and all I have to do is spark my memories in some way and I'll remember a lot of dear, wonderful people who I've known over the years."

By James Adomian, as told to Ryan Grim

James Adomian
Credit: Sharan Alagna
Queer POC Cookbooks

From Coconuts and Collards to Masala Farm, here's what we're reading.

By Justin Chapple

Credit: Amazon

Baker Justin Burke talks about inclusive spaces, being a queer single dad, and baking as activism.

By Kat Kinsman

Queer Food | Justin Burke
Credit: Carter Short Photography