LOVE Oxford at the Jolly Farmers

It's no secret that Oxford is home to some thriving LGBTQIA+ nightlife, from Haute Mess' legendary drag shows to underground club nights like Hyperstition. But until last year, events that centred lesbians, queer women and other members of the sapphic community were hard to come by. Enter LOVE, a monthly inclusive meet-up at the Jolly Farmers that its organisers call "the lez* house party of your dreams". Since it began, the night has hosted sexual health workshops, quizzes and fundraisers, and their following has only grown. We caught up with the organisers to find out more about the power of LOVE.

Daily Information: How did LOVE get started?

LOVE: LOVE began in March 2023 - we’ve been running every month out of The Jolly Farmers since then. Our first birthday is coming up next week and it’s amazing to see how much we’ve grown. I started LOVE as a social expecting nobody would come - the first event was tiny, but we’ve become a community capable of packing the venue wall-to-wall with lesbians. It’s great that, because of the support LOVE has received, we’re now able to do cool things like drag shows, workshops, and fundraisers. It’s a great place to meet people, the events often have house party vibes which people seem to really enjoy!

DI: Who is the night for?

L: LOVE is aimed at lesbians and queer women, and anyone who resonates with either of these terms in any way - big or small. Our policy is that if you feel like this space might be yours then you are welcome. It was incredibly important to me that the space is undeniably trans positive from the beginning because too much trans exclusion has historically been done in spaces like this and I wanted it to be welcoming, non-exclusive and non-judgemental. Events like this should be a bit of a kick in the teeth to lesbian TERFs and their “single-sex spaces”.

What sets LOVE apart from other LGBTQIA spaces in Oxford?

L: LOVE is a community within a community. There isn’t much aimed at for lesbians and queer women in Oxford, so that sets us apart. We also have great pizza supplied by Jojo’s dough on the go!

DI: The night's been running for a year now - what have been some highlights of LOVE so far?

L: One of the highlights was definitely LOVE’s fundraiser for Mermaids. We raised around £500 in just one evening, and it was just incredible to witness that display of solidarity. We also had a workshop on queer sex and pleasure run by Terrence Higgins Trust Oxfordshire which was really cool - I think many people felt it was exciting to have an open dialogue like that and then have drinks and a boogie in the Jolly Farmers basement afterwards.

DI: At a time when we're seeing a decline in LGBTQIA+ venues across the UK, what makes nights like these so important?

L: Nights like this are incredibly important. Although LGBTQ+ venues are in decline, I was definitely inspired by the absolutely flourishing lesbian scene in London. The new lesbian bar opening in London brought out hundreds of people who were overflowing onto the streets. We’re obviously a much smaller community here in Oxford but we still need spaces where we can be ourselves and connect with people who make us feel at home. I think people need these spaces more now than they have in recent years. Unfortunately the UK is getting less and less safe for LGBTQ+ people, we’re going to need more places to be ourselves. When we have queer spaces we need to hold onto them, we need to get out and support them.

DI: Are there any future projects in the works you can tell us about?

L: LOVE has got a few things in the works. Next week [7th March] is our birthday party hosted by local drag queen Shroom which is going to be so much fun. We have other collaborations coming up, but you’ll have to keep an eye out on our Instagram, @lovewomenoxford, for more!

DI: Finally, describe LOVE for us in 5 words.

L: LOVE is an inclusive, thriving, radical, queer, party.

*Non-exclusive, trans-positive

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