A Seat at the Queer, ‘Totes Gay’ Table

A Seat at the Queer, ‘Totes Gay’ Table

A Seat at the Queer, ‘Totes Gay’ Table

How MeMe’s Diner—and other Brooklyn prospects—are working towards supporting the Black trans community.

How MeMe’s Diner—and other Brooklyn prospects—are working towards supporting the Black trans community.

Text: Dante Silva

There’s nothing explicitly queer about food: no ‘homosexual’ sauce, nor ‘gay’ foie gras. Yet, at times, certain dishes come with social and cultural tensions simmering underneath. Such is the case for MeMe’s Diner—a queer-owned Prospect Heights diner—feeding a subversive, queer resistance. 

Co-founder Libby Willis, in the face of an increasingly corporatized culinary industry, finds resistance to be an obligation. Amidst ongoing protests, and calls to completely alter the ways individuals and communities interact with one another, she told Vogue “there has to be a way our community can come together and support people”. 

She does so with Totes Gay, a collaboration with over 20 queer, Brooklyn-based chefs, each selling products to support The Okra Project. "As queer chefs, our products can be inaccessible to a lot of people, and this is a way we can come together to show support," said Willis. "The Black trans people being fed by The Okra Project are the ones who started Pride in the first place."

Sharing a meal then takes on an entirely new meaning: the excess of sauteed serpolet or herbal sprigs becomes a realm to dwell in, fostering a sublimated queerness. For Willis, it’s a stark refusal of corporate Pride, returning to the anti-assimilationist origins of the movement. ‘Totes Gay’ is a mutual-aid inspired project, a chance to uncover the sweetness of a soufflé and of its intended purpose.   

As the project's Instagram asks, 'Queer, Isn't It?'

Credits: Image from Getty Images

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