The Edinburgh Tab’s guide to LGBTQ+-owned Edinburgh businesses

With LGBTQ+ History Month coming to an end, here are five queer-owned businesses you can support all year-round

To celebrate LGBTQ+ month, The Edinburgh Tab wants to showcase and interview some local Edinburgh businesses that are either run by someone or offer support to the LGBTQ+ community. All the businesses are independent, and range from bookshops, art shops, and a sustainable grocery store!

Bee Illustrates

We chatted to Bee (they/them), about their pieces, and how students can support the LGBTQ+ community!

For those who might not have heard of your business what do you sell?

“My name is Bee (they/them), and I am a queer illustrator, influencer + creative. I have an online shop ( where I sell prints and other merch with my artwork.”

Where does your inspiration for the pieces come from?

“My inspiration for my artwork often comes from my own lived experiences, whether that’s troubles I’ve faced, questions I ask myself about my sexuality, or how I feel about the world. Essentially, my art is a visual form of oversharing to let others know they’re not going through things alone. It’s comforting to know that other people can relate!

“I have often found myself utilising art as a form of therapy, and of clues about my identity frequently appear in my artwork before I’ve even realised them about myself. In my experience, leaning into and embracing my queerness, quirks and idiosyncrasies, and thinking how best to represent these in my artwork is what I feel has allowed me to produce my best work.”

What are you up to now?

“I am in the process of co-curating and planning my own community centred, queer and feminist run exhibition with Cheer Up Luv to create a safe space for people to come and enjoy some art, as well raise money for charity. The exhibition is focused around art as a form of activism, and attendees can get involved with workshops, view a panel discussion, and engage with art centred around important issues for Women’s History Month.”

How can students support the LGBTQIA+ community, especially in regards to universities?

“I think the key way of showing your support would be to listen to us, stick up for us, believe us and respect us when we tell you our identity/pronouns/names, as well as being vocal in your support for us around other students! Make it clear that we aren’t alone.”

If you could give one piece of advice for students in the LGBTQIA+ community what would it be?

“Absolutely know that your identity is a strength, rather than a weakness. I spent far too long trying to water myself down and make aspects of myself more palatable to others – but in reality I was just making myself miserable.

“I used to produce work that excluded such a large part of my identity and personality, but I’ve since found that embracing all the parts of myself I was previously ashamed of, and actually showcasing that and the set of challenges it brings, is something that has allowed so many more people to resonate with my work. Lean in to your uniqueness, and remember you aren’t alone!”


Blunt Knife Co.

Blunt Knife Co. was founded by Marian and Emma. They met whilst working in traditional book publishing, where we were both frustrated at how women’s voices were still constantly being overlooked for men’s.

They decided they wanted to use their skills in writing, broadcasting, events, film, podcasting, comms, marketing, publicity, and of course editing and publishing, to amplify women and NB voices. We chatted to them to find out more about their social enterprise!

For students who don’t know, what is Blunt Knife Co.?

“Blunt Knife Co. is a social enterprise that supports and promotes creative women and non-binary people through our shop and event space. Our shop on Thistle Street (in New Town between George Street and Queen Street) sells art, books, music, jewellery, homewares and more, all made by small, independent makers from Scotland and the wider UK, and the event space hosts workshops, craft clubs, discussion groups, exhibitions and spoken-word nights.”

How do you support women and non-binary people?

“By selling or exhibiting their work, by supporting their craft and helping them grow their skills, and by creating networks and helping creatives find each other and make connections. The aim of BKco. is to create a safe space for people to discover and support new artists and connect with like-minded creatives.”

How did the pandemic affect your space?

“Well it postponed Blunt Knife Co. opening by about a year! Otherwise it has made things difficult because in-person gatherings are an important part of what we’re trying to do. We had to cancel a number of events over the last few months which was disappointing. Also, people working from home means there aren’t as many people in town so there’s far less foot traffic on Thistle Street. BUT the pandemic did make us realise how important it is to have a physical space where people can meet and build a community.”

What can students do to support the community?

“Come visit the shop, get a ticket to an event, follow us @bluntknifeco, tell all your pals about us!”

Have you got any exciting events coming up?

“We have LOTS of events coming up, including some fantastic workshops, market days, pop-ups, performances and discussion groups, so give us a follow on Instagram @bluntknifeco where we post all our happenings.”

Lighthouse Bookshop

Lighthouse is a queer-owned and woman-led independent community bookshop – just around the corner from George Square on West Nicholson Street. Described as ‘an unapologetically activist, intersectional, feminist, antiracist, LGBTQ+ community space’. In 2020 they were nominated Scotland’s Best Independent Bookshop! 

They celebrate diversity of thought and expression, championing voices from the margins.

Housing over 10,000 titles across most genres, from politics, history, fiction and travel writing to Children’s books, crafts and cookery. They are particularly passionate about radical, left wing and Scottish politics, intersectional feminism, revolutionary history, environmentalism, LGBT+ writing, poetry and translated fiction.

Lighthouse Bookshop is usually open 7 days a week and has a vibrant year-round program of events, with one or two events a week as well as their regular book groups. The big calendar highlights are the two big festivals they run, the Book Fringe in August and the Radical Book Fair in November.

The Gulls’ Grocery 

The Gull’s Grocery is a trans-led, workers co-operative committed to fair wages and fair prices. They offer refillable groceries, a focus on sustainability and only consuming what you need. Located in Leith their opening hours are Tuesday – Saturday: 10am – 7pm, and Sunday: 10am – 6pm.

Kafe Kweer

Kafe Kweer (formerly known as The Greenwood) is a queer café on Gilmore Place (in between Brunstfield and Fountainbridge). We chatted to one of the café’s owners, Oskar, who by night is known as Edinburgh drag sensation Mystika Glamoor.

What inspired you to start the space?

“Kafe Kweer is a sober space for the local queer community, that sells delicious food and drinks, eco-friendly groceries, and art by local queer creators, as well as holding monthly exhibitions by queer artists. You can find us on social media at @kafekweer.

“The journey to opening Kafe Kweer started in the summer of 2020, when I saw a Facebook post from a small shop in Bruntsfield that said they were looking for someone to take over the space and turn it into something cool. I shared it, almost as a joke, saying ‘wouldn’t it be nice if someone opened a queer cafe?’. My friend Zak wrote to me saying that he was about to write to them too, and we combined our forces to just go for it!

“We started a small fundraiser, with low expectations, and suddenly got overwhelmed by both donations and messages from people, saying that a sober queer space was exactly what they wanted. There were messages
from queer teenagers who couldn’t go into bars, as well as older queer people who no longer wanted to mingle in those spaces. This is when it settled in our minds that there was a true desire for this kind of space, and once we exceeded all our expectations with the fundraiser,we dived straight into it.”

How does having it be a sober space change the space and its use?

“Very often, the only dedicated spaces for queer people are bars and nightlife. They serve an extremely important and historical role in connecting queer people, but we could tell there was a desire for a space that didn’t feature the need to drink in order to socialise, that was also visibly queer-friendly.”

What kind of positive impacts and changes have you seen since opening the space?

“I often fear that we will be confronted by homophobes or transphobes, but all we have received from the wider community, especially those not in the LGBT+ community, is compassion, understanding, and a willingness to learn. Either that, or they just know we have delicious baked goods and coffee!”

How do you support the LGBTQI+ community?

“At our core is a desire to support local queer creatives, whether it’s selling their art on our shelves, featuring them in our monthly cabaret shows, or the monthly exhibition. Giving them a platform to sell their work also helps our customers, who see themselves represented through the art.”

“We opened in September 2020, in the heart of the pandemic. We didn’t know whether we would last six months, but we’re still here almost two years later.”

Have you got any exciting events coming up?

“We have a lot of exciting things coming up, including:
– A whole new selection of monthly queer art exhibitions
– Our Kweer Kabaret, an intimate live show on the last Saturday of the month
– Queer craft markets
– Life drawing classes

“We are open every single day of the week 8am-4pm, and are often open till around 8pm for events on Thursdays.”

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