Open Lavs Funding Day Testimonial

Open Lavs are a group developing an app for nonbinary, queer and non gender conforming people to find public toilets and bathrooms across the UK that can be used by them, as well as to campaign for gendered toilets to be made open for all to use. Below is a testimonial from them on our Round 9 funding day in late October 2018.

One unseasonably cold early winter morning, I got up ridiculously early and got the train from London to Manchester. After getting lost many times despite the full cornucopia of technological tools available to me, I settled nervously in Bridge 5 Mill to the sight of not just one but two familiar faces (a public transport campaigner friend and an old friend's ex). Turns out there's a small pool of people doing the kind of work that Edge Fund is happy to give to, and half of us know each other!

We all had to introduce our projects to the wider group and I read verbatim from the bits of paper I'd tried to memorise on the train (but for the sheep in the fields! and the horses!). I might have lain it on a bit thick, but for me the rampant transphobia we're witnessing in this country is an obvious sign of the creeping fascism across the world, and that's something my project 'open lavs' hopes to dissect and dismantle a bit through its radical simplicity. We're a tool to map out all the unisex loos across the UK (in pubs, shops, museums etc) so that those of us who are likely to be victims of anti-queer harassment in public toilets (the trans people, the genderqueer people, the butch lesbians misread as men, the femme men misread as women, and the whole lot of our amazing family) know where we can spend a penny without all that nonsense.

We all did 'market stalls' where we set out our projects' purposes to each other and got a chance to speak to other groups to get a feel for them and their ethos. My G-d, I'm always uplifted and buoyed by what we're doing faced with the shittiest of circumstances. There were groups fighting against climate breakdown, against an unfair and cruel judiciary, against detention centres; groups fighting for a better world but finding brick walls where they need to find funding to continue their necessary and all-too-often underappreciated work. Thankfully, Edge Fund steps in here with its democratic, egalitarian approach to fund-giving. Everyone decided which project they would dole out their allotted chickpeas to, and open lavs thankfully came out with the most and so was given the full award!

There were so many amazing, worthy and worthwhile projects and whilst I'm so grateful Open Lavs got funding, literally any other group in that room would have been as deserving. I can say that freely now that the hard sell is over and the funds are safely in the Open Lavs account! I made some new friends - I even got food poisoning with one the other day from the dodgy but great veggie Indian buffet on Chapel Market (you know the one). But more than anything, open lavs can now really start doing its own small but important mission: helping people find already-existing loos they can use without fear. Thank you Edge Fund for making this possible, and for making the process transparent, trusting and beautifully collaborative.