Welcome to Seven Minutes in Heaven, GO Magazine’s interview series that profiles a different queer babe each day, by asking them seven unique (and sometimes random) questions. Get to know the thoughts, feelings, and opinions of the groundbreaking, fierce forces-of-nature in the queer community.
Welcome back from that holiday haze, babes. We wanted to start this year off with a bang and so our first Seven Minutes in Heaven of 2018 is with the incredible Liz Alpern of Queer Soup Night. This event series launched in Brooklyn last year in an effort to create space for community, resistance, and fundraising. For every event Queer Soup Night hosts, they donate all of the proceeds to a different charity.
In a political environment that is heavily anti-queer and anti-trans, we need spaces to gather in community for nourishment and healing. Without this, we wouldn’t be able to keep on resisting and doing the important activism that keeps our community alive and thriving. It is people like Alpern who provide spaces for this who keep the community feeling inspired to keep moving forward.
And while we focused on Queer Soup Night in our interview with Alpern, she is not without many other accomplishments and accolades. She is the co-author of The Gefilte Manifesto: New Recipes for Old World Jewish Foods. Liz holds an MBA from Baruch College and is a faculty member in the Culinary Entrepreneurship Program at the International Culinary Center in NYC. She been featured in Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list for food and wine and was named one of the Forward 50 for 2016. She is also a consultant for national non-profit, Fair Food Network.
And so, it is with so much excitement that we present to you our Seven Minutes in Heaven with Liz Alpern.
GO Magazine: Can you tell us a little bit about Queer Soup Night?
Liz Alpern: At it’s heart, QSN is a party for queer folks and allies to gather in community and soak up the nourishment (physical and mental) we all need to keep doing the work we’re doing while facing our harsh political climate. It’s a space to feel supported and useful, to make a new friend, and to eat soup made with love by talented queer chefs.
Each month we select a new beneficiary, raising money for small nonprofits (small enough that we can make a meaningful monetary donation). Our beneficiaries take part in the party and help educate and provide us with practical ways to get involved.
Our partners (like Jarry and Jaynesbeard) are aligned with our vision of activism: it can be joyful and constructive. They also know food, and share our belief that when we eat among friends, the food tastes that much better.
GO: What is the driving force behind your career/activism?
LA: The driving force behind QSN is to build a community grounded in positivity and to support the individuals and groups who are doing meaningful front-line work – especially those who have been doing it long before QSN was born, long before 45 was elected, and the ones who will continue the fight long after he is gone. From the first QSN, it was clear we all needed this: a reason to gather, to enjoy each other, and to help the incredible orgs in this city.
We’re excited to share that QSN is spreading out of NYC. On January 21, there will be a QSN both in Brooklyn and in Gainesville, Florida! We are talking with folks in Portland, Seattle and Philly about similar events as well.
GO: Where do you go for inspiration when you’re feeling discouraged or depleted?
LA: It seems like we get worse and worse news every day, so I spend time in the kitchen and on the meditation cushion to keep me grounded. Inspiration, however, comes from my community of friends – the social justice lawyers, the artists, the organizers, the educators, the chefs! Most people I know are waking up each day and kicking ass, and knowing these people reminds me that the world is a beautiful place.
GO: Why do you think it’s so important to have queer-centric events and spaces?
LA: Part of what makes a community feel like a community is that there’s an element of familiarity to it. We show up at a queer space, and we know we’ll run into someone we know, or someone who knows someone we know. Or at least someone who shares our values or our past experiences. We feel seen. And when we feel seen we feel safe. And when we feel safe we can take risks, make change, and connect on a deeper level. That’s how I feel each month at Queer Soup Night, and I know I’m not the only one.
GO: How can we use food in community to bring people together around a common cause? / How do you use food as an act of resistance?
LA: Food gives us a reason to gather, it’s also a way to express our values. And while food is my tool for resistance, because it’s what I do for a living, other members of the QSN family use their tools, like designing, DJ’ing, photography and organizing.
GO: Where can people find you?
Our next Queer Soup Night is on January 21 (6-9pm), at C’mon Everybody in Brooklyn. Suggested donation is $10-20 for soup and bread and 100% of proceeds will go to the Center for Anti Violence Education. No tickets are needed. All are welcome.