I want to tell you about the Hive Community Café at 46, John William Street in Huddersfield.
My story actually begins a few decades ago with me questioning my gender and sexuality. Over time it became increasingly difficult to cope with my internal conflict until in September 2020, I came out to my family as a transgender woman. On the run up to that momentous occasion, and during the height of the Covid crisis, I searched on the internet for support groups but found that face to face meetings were suspended. I started living as the real me in January 2021. Soon afterwards, on another search of the internet, I found Hive Café which described itself as LGBTQ+ friendly and a safe place for everyone. As a lover of frothy coffee, I had to pay a visit.
My excursions in to town at that time were largely to supermarkets to buy food and, as most clothes shops were closed, to buy new clothes at the supermarket. I was still getting used to being seen as a woman in public and more than a little apprehensive about visiting Hive, despite their stated aim on the website.
On walking into Hive, I was warmly greeted and made very welcome by Gabby. I sat down with a lovely flat white, my tipple of choice, and soaked up the lovely calm, friendly atmosphere. I reflected on all the years of turmoil that had brought me now to this place of tranquillity and serenity. The experience of living a secret double life and feeling unable to tell anyone, made me want to help others questioning their identity and hopefully save them from years of confusion and self-loathing. I read a notice about the Hive Youth Group and decided to enquire about supporting them.
Gabby and I had another conversation about Hive and what a Community Interest Company (CIC) is. We discussed why Hive was established and its aims and objectives. We discussed how I might be able to support Hive and in particular, the Youth Group. Before long, I was volunteering with Hive Youth and meeting some amazing young people.
Before coming out, I hadn’t met or spoken at length to anyone from the LGBTQ+ community. Nor had I spoken with the very many allies of this Rainbow Family who come to Hive. Not knowing how I would be received was a little unnerving, but this feeling of unease evaporated in moments. Now as I write this in November 2022, I am fully integrated into the Hive family. I am included in decision making, my views are respected and my contribution to the community is appreciated. The big win for me is that I love the comradery and friendship of all the team.
As an older person working with young people, I thought they might find me difficult to relate to, especially as I sometimes get peoples pronouns mixed up in error. The reality is the mutual respect within the group is amazing and my age isn’t a barrier to us getting along.
We were having a discussion one evening about the use of the term ‘queer’, when a member of the group stopped the conversation and addressed me. They realised that during my lifetime the term ‘queer’ was derogatory and wondered if I was comfortable with them using the term in front of me. I actually use the term to describe myself but this and many other examples, illustrate the care and compassion we all have for each other.
To be honest, without the Hive Community, there wouldn’t really be a story to tell. Hive has enabled me to thrive and develop as the authentic ‘me’. My hope is that very many of those who benefit from the support given by Hive, will feel they too have benefitted hugely from their Hive experience. Feedback I receive in my conversations, is that really is the case. I hope others reading this will be emboldened to tell their own stories. My greatest wish is that others questioning their identity will be inspired to take the next step and to live as their authentic selves.
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Thank you to Philippa for sharing this story through our ‘Share your story’ page on this website.