Tuesday nights were slow at Mum’s the Word.
But then began LIPS.
Now every Tuesday has become the busiest night of the week for Mum’s the Word – thanks to Bailey Rae Morgan (she/her) & Jess Smith (she/her), founders of LIPS.
What is LIPS
LIPS is a safe space offered to queer womxn to connect in an intimate setting where it is not party-centered. Think mocktails/cocktails, board games, poetry readings in a chill atmosphere on a school night with a bunch of lesbians.
Bailey is a new Vancouverite (November 2021) and Jess is from a Fort McMurray. They both found the lesbian scene in the lower mainland quite clique-y and party-centered.
“I can’t remember the last time we went out,” Jess looks at Bailey. “We’re at home by 9:30 pm on a Friday with our cat Honey watching The Handmaid’s Tale.”
“It started out as a wish – we want to make friends with other lesbians, so we started LIPS…”BAILEY RAE MORGAN
“We thought it was going to be 20 womxn here or there but the turnout was bigger than anticipated and it has been consistent,” a bewildered and touched Jess explains. “Honestly the first couple events, I bawled my eyes off to my mum, *cue sob* ‘Every single women who entered felt safe and genuinely wanted to be there, mom’ .”
The queer womxn community and has been pushed out for so long.
“This is not an exclusion,” Bailey firmly states the fact. “The boys have Davie and we feel like we don’t have a space, so LIPS wanted to step into that role.”
LIPS wants to ensure the community that they are trans and non-binary inclusive.
“We monitor everyone and make sure this a safe space. So there is no pressure of any type or any type of speech that is inappropriate, anything that is non-consensual is not allowed.”
Oh? What happens?
“Send Jess,” as Bailey motions to her fiancée who has worked in a dive bar for many years. “And I have a deadly stare.”
Yeah, let’s be on our best behaviour.
“But we haven’t had any issues. The womxn who come here are very supportive of us and they want to cherish this newfound space that LIPS has created,” responds Jess.
Behind the Scenes of LIPS
Just like every other Vancouverite, “We have full time jobs and we manage the bar at Mum’s the Word,” Jess trails off. “Acting is my craft and boudoir photography is Bailey’s.”
How do you get along working with one another?
“Bailey is the dreamer, the visioner and I’m more of the executor. Bailey loves to reach out and build relationships meanwhile I have a limited amount of social energy. One of us steps in where one of us is needed.
We’re also pretty good with boundaries. If we have an issue, we bring it up pretty quickly. We both are learning to navigate with one another and we both consciously choose each other daily,” says Jess.
“We manage LIPS just like our relationship,” as Bailey states. ” Communication. That’s it.”
“I don’t know what to tell you but it just works” Jess tries to find an answer. “Maybe it’s the Taurus Moon in me and Taurus Sun in her.”
Where is LIPS headed?
“LIPS wasn’t planned. We just thought, ‘Do you want to do this?’
Just like our relationship, it wasn’t planned and look where we are now,” Bailey says dreamily.
“Now LIPS has given us a space to dream -Maybe a bar? But a lot more goes into running a bar. So the intention now is to provide a safe ‘space’ and nurture this community on a full-time basis.”
“Maybe someday, it will be LIPS everyday- a full-blown weekly lesbian agenda!”Adds a gleeful Bailey Rae Morgan
So , C U on Fridays…?
Tuesdays seems to be a little challenging for some of the womxn, so LIPS will be hosting their very first event on Friday, June 24 at The Home Key ( located right above Levels Nightclub).
It’s going to be at a bigger venue with 120 people capacity.
DJ Giselle & Gissala will be spinning some smooth beats. Cereal Thrifter is going to be there with a pop-up shop full of beach wear attire.
There’s going to be Nintendos, new board games, corn hole, a projector and much much more. This event is still going to maintain that intimate setting that LIPS is all about.
Tickets are sold out however they are still 20 left at the door.
LIPS Spreading the funds
“We weren’t ticketing at the beginning. The intention was to make these events as accessible as possible,” says Bailey. “But now that LIPS is at full capacity every Tuesday (40 ppl inside with staff and 17 ppl on the patio), we need to charge from a safety perspective.”
The tickets are by donation and it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.
“All proceeds are donated back to the community. We’ll listen to the queer community’s suggestions and then send funds that way. We’re very transparent with where the funds go,” explains Bailey. “The LIPS’ funds list is ever-changing on a weekly-basis.”
What are some of the challenges you’ve encountered?
“The biggest challenges with the lesbian community is the fact that LIPS interferes with sports : dodgeball , volleyball etc,” laughs Bailey.
“But in all seriousness” as Bailey gets vulnerably candid, “I have all these ideas and I have to respect the fact that it may not align with others. A lot of ego comes in, even with little ideas. So if the ego is dropped a little bit, this is going to succeed and be something beneficial for all queer womxn. It’s not about Jess and I’s thing– it’s something bigger.”
“Don’t claim to know everything,” more lessons from Bailey. “We want to learn from the community. We’ve had some questions about our marketing aspects, ‘Is it only catered to lesbians?’ One of the biggest challenge is how to word it, how to respond in a compassionate way and not to make anyone feel excluded because I don’t want people to feel that. Jess and I identify as lesbians, we are calling LIPS as a lesbian space. But by all means anyone can show up.”
What started out as a humble approach to build the community on early of March 2022 has now blown out into something so beautifully grand.
“LIPS is no longer ours, it belongs to the community as cheesy as it sounds,” points out Bailey.
“People are so excited that they are bringing in their own ideas. It wasn’t our idea to have a Beach-themed event nor was it our idea to introduce ice-breakers at our events. So much of it weren’t our ideas – this was very much built by the queer womxn community.”
“The amount of support has been humbling. We love our sponsors and our friends. They’ve been incredibly supportive with how we are starting. We like to give a special shout out to Anthony from The Parkside Brewery, Main St. Brewing Company and Clarity Kombucha.“
LES wish LIPS nothing but the best
I’m loving this organic growth that LIPS, as a company, is allowing. Everything is a step-by-step process ; from gaining a liquor license, to coming up with the name ‘LIPS’ whilst laughing behind the bar one night and now hosting a full-blown event in a bigger venue because a LIPS’ attendee had connected them with a connection.
These are the kind of moments that allows magic to flourish.
LES (pun intended) honour this space that LIPS has created for Vancouver’s queer womxn.
Would you like to help out? Reach out to these two insanely insta- beauts who are incredibly down-to-earth. Otherwise pop by Mum’s the word on Tuesdays and keep an eye out for future events by following them on Instagram @lips.events.