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My Pride as a baker

Following a minor backlash to our invitation to write an article for Pride Month, Real Bread Campaign ambassador Connor Rose shares his thoughts.

A bloke and his bread. Copyright: Teresa Roffey

A bloke and his bread. Copyright: Teresa Roffey

It’s June, and in the world of social media that means one thing: companies start changing their logos out for rainbow-coloured versions. Perhaps they mean it, perhaps it’s to show they are down with the kids, inclusive, possibly even woke*.

The rainbow logos are, sadly, inevitably accompanied by a rash of comments on social media, ranging from “why do we have to politicise EVERYTHING?” to “unfollowed”, with many stops for transphobic and homophobic nonsense along the way. Companies often ignore these comments; they are not all that invested, after all. 

I noticed, however, Real Bread Campaign coordinator Chris Young responding to some of the comments on his invitation to write an article, eloquently bringing it back to bread and the people who make bread. I wanted to try and shine a light on why it matters. Why declaring that I am a baker – a queer, transgender baker - is still a revolutionary act in 2024, and what queerness brings to the table – or the oven.

Rights are not a loaf of bread 

There is a saying in the trans community: not reading the comments is self-care. Although I didn’t love sifting through those on the Campaign’s social media posts, I tried to engage with what naysayers were feeling. Just the fact that these people felt the need to protest the very idea of championing queer bakers tells a story.

Some used ‘whataboutism’ (What about Black bakers? What about neurodivergent bakers? When is Straight Pride Month? and so on) which almost always backfires. Intersectionality means there are queer, Black bakers, queer neurodivergent bakers. 

Rights are not a loaf of bread: a slice for one group does not mean one slice less for another. I’m certain that, given an infinite budget, the Real Bread Campaign would be happy to showcase people of every subdivision of humanity and their relationships with bread.** Okay, perhaps not leading the charge for a straight pride month…

Is sourdough queer?

In the queer community we value diversity and it’s really something that I feel deeply in my baking. If good old baker's yeast is straight, then surely a sourdough starter, with its diverse populations of yeasts and bacteria, is queer? Sandor Katz (fermentation expert, former radical faerie, AIDS survivor, and all round lovely gay man) has often likened fermentation to queer community building. 

That love of diversity and my own queerness guides my choices as I bake and cook. I enjoyed a podcast recently (AteAteAte with Sam Low and Jean Teng) which welcomed John Birdsall (author who has a new book on queer food in the works!) as a guest. The discussion was around queer food and cooking with a queer sensibility. It felt very nurturing, reaffirming that queer food is definitely a thing, has been for as long as food has been served, and is attracting more and more attention. The first Queer Food Conference recently took place in Boston, and there is a sensation akin to a sourdough bubbling up in the community.

Perhaps this is our time?

Choosing to step out of dominant systems

For myself, queerness is a holistic concept. It's about more than sexuality, gender or attraction. It’s more of a choosing to step out of dominant systems to become my true self and then choosing where to direct my energies. In baking, that might look like choosing non-commodity grains or small flour mills, making sure to share bread within your community, giving away sourdough starter, championing other queer bakers, or talking openly about your queer experience as a baker. 

For me it's all of those things, plus many others. For other people it will be different, and that's ok: diversity, remember? We all have different experiences to bring to the table, and every time we share our stories it makes us stronger. 


*In its definition of woke, Merriam Webster notes: “chiefly US slang. 1. a. : aware of and actively attentive to important societal facts and issues (especially issues of racial and social justice)” Doesn’t sound so scary now, does it?

**Working on it! Please see our statement on diversity, equity and inclusion and invitation to see YOUR words in print. [ed.]

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Applications are open until 8 July 2024

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Published Wednesday 5 June 2024

Real Bread Campaign: The Real Bread Campaign finds and shares ways to make bread better for us, better for our communities and better for the planet. Whether your interest is local food, community-focussed small enterprises, honest labelling, therapeutic baking, or simply tasty toast, everyone is invited to become a Campaign supporter.

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Connor Rose (he/him) has been baking bread for home, community and friends since the mid-noughties. He has a real passion for social justice work and specifically the accessibility of good food.  Connor says: “For me, Real Bread is one of the building blocks of restorative food justice.”

Connor Rose

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