We visited Cardiff’s LGBTQ+ businesses to kick off our Pride month celebrations

Pay a visit to show your support for the LGBTQ+ community this Pride month and always

With some sunshine and British summertime in full swing, it can only mean one thing: Pride 2021 has officially commenced! A tribute to those involved in the Stonewall Riots in 1969, Pride month has since then become an important time for LGBTQ+ people to come together in solidarity to celebrate sexual diversity and the progressions towards equality, as well as raise awareness of the issues ongoing within the fight for gay rights. Beyond members of the LGBTQ+ community, Pride month also offers an opportunity for allies to show their support respectfully for the community.

Yet with COVID-19 postponing Pride parades, and many LGBTQ+ nightlife spaces remaining closed, the LGBTQ+ community has been greatly impacted. The pandemic has illuminated ongoing systematic inequalities for the community, with LGBTQ+ members reporting declining mental health, financial struggles, homelessness, and isolation. With 52% of LGBTQ+ individuals having experienced symptoms of depression in the last year, and one in seven LGBTQ+ people having avoided treatment due to fear of sexuality-based discrimination, it is a crucial time, now more than ever, to show support for the LGBTQ+ community this Pride month.

Despite the absence of traditional celebrations due to restrictions, there are still many spaces around Cardiff that offer the LGBTQ+ community a place for expression, celebration, and liberation.

We want to make visible these spaces that are invaluable to the community and deserve recognition and your support not only this June but all year-round. We have rounded up a selection of businesses in Cardiff that offer a retreat for people to express their most authentic selves in a safe and friendly environment, run by and for the LGBTQ+ community.

From friendly hotels to welcoming pubs and bars, to the brand-new Queer Emporium on St Mary’s Street home to LGBTQ+ small businesses, every ounce of support to these businesses helps during such difficult times.

The Queer Emporium, 2-4 Arcade 

Cardiff has become host of the UK’s first Queer Emporium during Pride Month. Founded by ‘NanoCast Studio’ business owner Yan White, the Emporium is situated on St Mary Street within the heart of Cardiff’s city centre at 2-4 Royal Arcade and supplies over 15 LGBTQ+ independent businesses. Selling a range of goods from artisan candles, to cakes, plants, jewellery, books, wine and much more, it is the first enterprise to bring together so many LGBTQ+ led businesses in one place. The Queer Emporium opened its doors on 1st June and will remain open for the duration of Pride Month into the end of August, supporting various local charities and groups from certain business sales.

Retailers include: I’m that Stitch, Panedoge, Candy Goblins, PrimaVera, Vookieco, Gays Who Wine, Morgan Dowdell,  Rhetorik, Marek Liska, PettiGrew, The Pie Box, Myths n Tits, Nanocast, Tropigaz and Kelzo Jewellery.

Alongside the pop up store, The Queer Emporium will host a series of events in the Royal Arcade including live comedy nights and workshops, working with various LGBTQ+ venues across the city, all in aid of supporting the community.

Kelzo Jewellery, The Queer Emporium

Kelzo Jewellery supplied in the Queer Emporium, 2-4 Arcade, Cardiff.

We spoke to the founders of family-run jewellery retailers Kelzo Jewellery which is currently stocked at The Queer Emporium, established by Kelly and Zoe (and hence, Kelzo!) the couple live and operate in Cardiff with their family supplying gorgeous bold and bright handmade polymer clay jewellery, with a large selection of statement rainbow pieces.

Kelzo Jewellery supplies a Pride range but also focus on supporting pride year-round through their jewellery, as Kelly and Zoe state “we totally believe it’s about being proud all year round, and I’d say it’s probably more influenced by our customers (our family) who wear our items even when they’re not ‘out’ so they can be proud and be their true selves”. Kelzo Jewellery donates 10% of all earnings to ‘Mermaids’ gender charity, who support transgender and gender variant children and their families. Beyond being stocked at The Queer Emporium, Kelzo Jewellery have a pop-up stall located in the Co-Op on Crwys road every Thursday for the duration of June, and they offer worldwide shipping online if you want to support virtually.

Pulse, Churchill Way 

Despite the LGBTQ+ nightlife scene in Cardiff being small and compact, much like the city itself- there is something to please everyone all within a short walking distance. If you are looking for a friendly and lively atmosphere to have some drinks- then LGBTQ+ dance club Pulse on Churchill Way is the place to be. Pulse attracts a diverse crowd of all ages from university students to middle-aged partygoers, all Pulse visitors share one mutual motif- a good time.

Mary’s, St Mary’s Street

Premium gay cabaret bar, Mary’s found on St Mary’s Street is renowned for its friendly atmosphere and fabulous live cabaret shows. Open seven days a week, Mary’s is the perfect safe place for the LGBTQ+ community and allies to enjoy a variety of drag shows, karaoke, and many other themed night events. Just recently reopened due to the intermittent lockdowns, this iconic night bar is a fantastic place to celebrate this Pride month and show support for the LGBTQ+ community.

Ty Rosa, Clive Street

Welsh hotel Ty Rosa meaning ‘Pink house’, is Cardiff’s openly exclusive gay-friendly B&B situated in Clive Street, Cardiff. Owned by couple Stuart and Paul, Ty Rosa was voted in the top ten gay & lesbian friendly hotels in Europe by Trip Advisor and the owners ensure that everyone enjoys their stay no matter their orientation. This boutique hotel is not to be missed if you’re in need of a stay and is a great way to support a small LGBTQ+ business.

Stag Coffee, Cathays

Stag Coffee is an independently run coffee shop in Cathays, offering everything you need from coal-town brewed coffees to homemade hearty food. The café is run by David Craig and adorned with rainbow bunting and a colourful outdoor seating area. Craig has created a LGBT sandwich added to the menu in 2018, which helped raise money for the anti-bullying and pro-LGBT charity ‘Stonewall’ through donating 50p from each sale. Owner Craig takes no negativity against his LGBT friendly creations and has been applauded for clamping down any homophobic criticisms. Whilst sadly the sandwich is no longer on the menu, Stag Coffee is still a delicious LGBTQ+ friendly café ran by and for the community and this welcome space is well worth a visit.

Whilst COVID-19 may have postponed Pride parades, and parties may not go ahead in their true fashion this Pride month but there are still many spaces that can be outlets for expression and celebration. From night bars to coffee shops, these are small ways in which you can show your support for the LGBTQ+ community.

Related stories recommended by this writer:

 One café’s absolutely brilliant response to a customer who complained about a LGBT sandwich

 UK’S First Queer Emporium’ is opening in Cardiff’s Royal Arcade For Pride Month 

 Pride 2021: Lincoln’s LGBTQ+ charities and business you can support