“Tender” is Them's column about all of the beautiful, delicious, and liberating ways that LGBTQ+ people work with food. From production to preparation, local farms to reimaginings of the restaurant, our community is at the forefront of what it means to nourish and be nourished today.Read more from the series here.
In the spring of 1972, the first known feminist restaurant in the United States opened its doors in Greenwich Village. Mother Courage, named after an anti-war play by Marxist poet Bertolt Brecht, was founded by feminist activists and lesbian lovers Dolores Alexander and Jill Ward. They used $10,000 in crowdsourced microloans and personal savings, plus their own sweat equity, to renovate a dilapidated luncheonette from floor to ceiling with help from a volunteer construction crew of family and friends in the women’s liberation movement.
There was no budget for decor, so they put houseplants in the windows, lit surplus street lamps overhead, and hung sketches by local feminist artists on the exposed brick walls. Their daily menu was handwritten in chalk on a small blackboard. Although the food received mixed reviews from critics, the restaurant was popular and amassed a pool of regulars from New York’s feminist literary circles, such as Audre Lorde and Kate Millett. They didn’t open a restaurant to make a profit, and what the founders lacked in culinary experience they made up for in community building. At a time when women could be fired for attending a lesbian gathering, Mother Courage offered a space where feminist lesbians and their friends could be out at work, socialize openly, organize politically, and dine out with dignity.
The cohort of mostly-lesbian feminist restaurateurs that opened after Mother Courage had their own approach to running a restaurant. Some brought professional culinary skills and prioritized cooking food that tasted good, sourcing ingredients with integrity. They supported California grape growers on strike and boycotted Florida orange juice during Anita Bryant’s anti-gay campaign, even if their windows were smashed as a result, as happened to the Brick Hut Cafe in Berkeley. In her book Ingredients for Revolution: A History of American Feminist Restaurants, Cafes, and Coffeehouses, McGill professor Alex Ketchum documents the queer political conviction and scrappy do-it-together passion that connects hundreds of feminist restaurants, cafes and coffeehouses. These spaces sprang up in nearly every state in the country during the 1970s and 1980s, and they’re still around today. The feminist networks they collectively built across state lines shaped lesbian culture and expanded US feminist food politics. Until now, Ketchum argues, they have been overlooked as a critical
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In Drive-Away Dolls Ethan Coen has made what he dubs “filthy fun,” and what his wife and co-writer Tricia Cooke calls a “queer road trip movie.” Whatever you want to call it, the film—the director's first written and directed without his brother Joel—is a fast-paced journey that follows lesbian heroes and friends Jamie and Marian (Margaret Qualley and Geraldine Viswanathan, respectively) on a road trip from Philadelphia to Tallahassee, Florida, with stops in states like North Carolina and Georgia along the way (and cameos from Pedro Pascal and Matt Damon). Why Tallahassee, you ask? “Tallahassee is actually beautiful,” explains Marian to an unconvinced Jamie at the start of the movie. "They have live oaks, Spanish moss, birding…”
This year more folks are prioritizing travel and newfangled experiences. We’re inspired by beloved television shows à la Emily in Paris to reexamine cities we’ve previously visited. Scoring tickets to see our favorite musical artists, like Taylor Swift, fortuitously opens up the prospect of flying to a different country. A rising wellness and longevity movement encourages travelers to seek alcohol-free vacations. Slower and more intentional travel—quality over quantity—is important and sustainability and eco-minded experiences are at the forefront.
With his top-of-the-line mattress selling for $750,000 — and featured in the homes of celebrities like Drake — Hästens CEO Jan Ryde has already succeeded on a number of challenges. Still he gave himself one more, promising to write a book when his annual company sales reached $100M. ‘ When Business Is Love ’ isn’t your typical corporate cutthroat how-to manual. Instead Ryde tells the story of his fifth-generation 172-year-old family business going from making horse saddles to the most desired mattresses in the world, and how he guides the company with a combination of passion for excellence and a culture of compassion among the people who work there. I spoke with Ryde at the company’s New York showroom about his business philosophy and his most famous mattress.
Forget Paris in spring: Rome is both warmer and cooler in the first few months of the year. The locals are in their winter black rollneck jumpers, accessorised with equally noir-ish sunglasses. With an average of 17C by March, it’s warm enough to sit outside cafés and bars, but not hot enough to fall foul of the “no shorts” rule enforced in Rome’s oldest churches.
West Virginia’s Blue Ridge peaks, dramatic gorges, and rushing rivers put it on the map for hikers, rafters, and rock climbers. But the Mountain State isn’t just an adventure destination—it’s also home to historic Civil War sites, old-time music venues, and some of the best stargazing in the United States. We consulted local artists, chefs, and Nat Geo staffers from the region to plot your course in the place that the classic country song calls “almost heaven.”
Frozen hair is a nuisance in most places, but at the Eclipse Nordic Hot Springs in Whitehorse, Yukon, it’s a higher calling. Every winter, hundreds of people try to freeze their hair into a troll-doll-like coif for a chance to win cash prizes of 2,000 Canadian dollars, or nearly $1,500.
In January, Alaska celebrated its 65th anniversary of becoming the 49th state. Such a milestone sets the stage for high expectations, and with good reason: Following a record-setting tourism season in 2023 led by more than 1.6 million cruise visitors, predictions are for another banner year in 2024, according to the Alaska Travel Industry Association (ATIA).
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