First opened as a storefront in the spring of 2022, Alphabet Mafia, is now a bustling resource hub and safe space for the queer community.
Located at 342 Princess St. in downtown Kingston, Alphabet Mafia sells queer-centric merchandise, while focusing on queer education, sharing local resources, and building community.
“There was an opportunity for a space to get folks together, have a place to be able to give back to the community, and find things that represent them,” said Rae Loggie, ArtSci ’21, and Alphabet Mafia team leader, in an interview with The Journal.
Alphabet Mafia was born as a joint effort after its founders were looking to create a space for themselves to feel comfortable, Loggie said.
Since then, Alphabet Mafia has grown to hold space for many others, including queer folks, allies, and “soon-to-be allies,” a term Loggie uses to refer to people who may not be very knowledgeable about queer issues, but are willing to ask questions and learn.
“We get a lot of folks who are in the area who are questioning their identity, or maybe their placement in the queer community,” Loggie said.
While this is something many queer spaces expect when opening their doors, Loggie shared the community engagement has been incredible.
“Besides just being in the storefront, we do a lot of resource work behind the scenes,” Loggie said. “It’s really powerful to have a space where people can come in and talk to allies, or queer folk themselves, and ask questions about proper language and queer spaces.”
Given their platform, Loggie and their team frequently refer community members to established resources in the Queen’s and Kingston communities. For many, accessing resources without this guidance can be a challenge, particularly when considering the need for intersectionality.
“Being intersectional means constantly [being] in a position of learning. Not only educating yourself but realizing your own bias.”
From the international student body at Queen’s to the bustling tourist scene the summer season brings to Kingston, Loggie commented on the unity celebrating Pride brings.
“The pure joy on a lot of their faces—that’s not tangible in a business sense, but I think those things are far more important.”
In their journey as a small business, Loggie says the support from the City of Kingston has been important when discussing intersectional queer issues. This is especially critical when considering Kingston’s colonial past.
“The City has been so welcoming, not only listening to our recommendations for better general spaces, but things such as the inclusion of more gender neutral bathrooms, or keeping the [Pride-themed] crosswalks in place all year round.”
Alphabet Mafia faced some challenges, with a few instances of people entering the store and spewing hurtful remarks or defacing store property with harmful symbols.
Despite this, Loggie remains extremely positive and grateful for the Alphabet Mafia community, sharing the outpour of love the store receives following difficult instances such as these.
“Even when we do have those little incidents of hate or misinformation, it’s always received back with 20 times more love, and a willingness to learn more,” Loggie said.
The store is hoping to host more community events, such as craft events and story times. Loggie hopes for the events to be family-oriented, where people can come together and listen to different queer voices.
Alphabet Mafia is hoping to collaborate with local businesses, clubs, and organizations to host, sponsor, or promote these events in the future.
As a Queen’s history grad, Loggie holds Kingston close to their heart and hopes the community honours Kingston’s diverse history as they continue to implement initiatives in the future.
“It’s really powerful to have a space like Alphabet Mafia where people who aren’t even sure if they’re a part of our rainbow community yet can hang out and enjoy different aspects of queer culture. I think it’s so beautiful.”
Loggie encourages anyone interested in connecting with Alphabet Mafia to do so via email, social media, or in-person at the store.
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