Growing up in Tennessee, Abby Clayton denied herself hobbies like crafting because she already felt like an outcast. Due to the lack of queer representation around her, she felt there were parts of herself she couldn’t express or didn’t know existed.
When she stepped into As You Are. DC, a café and bar space on Barracks Row to watch a Mystics game, she found the unexpected: a place where she could be all parts of herself — crafter, athlete, and queer. “Being in a place where people are so authentically themselves is so encouraging to me as I try to live that out more and more every day,” said Clayton, who now returns regularly for Wednesday Craft Nights. “It’s mind-blowing to me.
We’re the cool people now!” Stephanie Storlie, a 35-year-old teacher who lives in Anacostia agrees. Storlie also comes for Craft Nights where about 30 people of all ages knit, paint, crochet, and socialize.
She immediately felt a deep sense of community with other queer people who shared her enjoyment of knitting, something unavailable to her in her younger years. “There’s this concept in the queer community of re-parenting or reclaiming the parts of our lives that weren’t what we wanted them to be,” Storlie said. “I can do that here.” When co-owners Jo McDaniel and Rachel Pike opened the space in March 2022, they dreamt of a queer space that was more family-friendly, multi-generational and comfortable for non-drinkers.