UK’s first wellness festival for queer women is perfect place to recharge and be yourself

The UK’s first-ever wellness festival for queer, questioning and curious women and non-binary folk, Out & Wild, is fast approaching.

Festival attendees can look forward to three days and nights of music, sports, spoken word, poetry, wild swimming and comedy in the stunning Welsh countryside from 10-13 June. Recently announced, as the festival overlooks the River Cleddau, Canoe Wales will be providing free guided paddle board sessions, with free guided wild swimming also being sponsored by the Hydro Flash Parks for All programme.

Tickets are on sale now and available by clicking here.

PinkNews caught up with Bobbi Pickard, CEO of Trans in the City, which works to further inclusion of transgender, non-binary and gender diversity in business, who is also a long-time musician and is one of just many acts performing at Out & Wild.

How did you get involved with Out & Wild festival?

Polly [Shute, Out & Wild co-founder] and Sarah [Maslen, Out & Wild’s music and comedy curator] told me that apparently I’m going to be playing! I would do anything for both of them… We’re the best of mates, and when they both asked me, I couldn’t say no.

I haven’t performed now for for two-and-a-half years… It will be different [at Out & Wild festival] because I’m not in a band now, I’m not playing bass, I’m very much in the spotlight on my own. I can’t hide any bum notes by looking angrily at the drummer. There are different pressures, different challenges and it feels really fresh.

You give an impression of being quite a high-powered career woman – what’s your relationship with wellness and being in nature?

Being in nature is everything to me, it’s where I recharge… I’ve always been in nature, I’ve always camped, I’ve always climbed mountains. I’m at my happiest on my own at the top of a mountain.

I’m a real introvert, some of that’s in my nature and some of that’s been instilled in me over lots of different experiences, but I’m a performer as well. When you see Bobbi the role model, it’s very much my performance side, the same person that goes up on stage and plays and sings… Doing those performances actually takes energy, lots of energy, being a role model takes lots of energy.

Being out in the wild is where I get the energy back.

How did you start playing music?

I’ve always sung, as far back as I can remember. Ever since I was really tiny, I’ve always been singing. I was in school choirs, I sang at the Albert Hall at school, loads of things.

I actually had a really amazing music teacher, which was really fab. I just didn’t fit in at school at all with the usual football-playing lot, and I used music as an escape. I used to go to the music room when I was at school, just to hide, to stop me from being beaten up, basically.

I started playing bass guitar because me and my three friends that all hung out in the music room decided that we were going to become rock stars and become really famous, so we decided to start a band.

My friend wanted to be the guitarist because he was the poser, and my other friend wanted to be the drummer because he was a bit mad, so it was just bass left over. I started playing bass and singing and that was it – I’ve been playing probably once a fortnight for the last 35 to 40 years. I’ve played guitar, but I’ve never really played guitar live in front of an audience, it’s always been around campfires.

COVID came along and my last band folded, and I kind of thought that was going to be it, I thought I wouldn’t bother performing anymore. I didn’t play at all for about six months [during lockdown], and then I picked up my acoustic guitar and I just haven’t put it down since. I’ve been playing every day, more than I have done for the last 20 years.

What made you pick it up again?

I’ve always played, I think I got to the stage, especially when I was transitioning, that it really turned into a job and a bit of a trial to play. I think I just needed that six months just to recharge a bit and when I picked it up again, I just fell in love with acoustic guitar massively again.

What kind of songs will you be playing?

I haven’t quite decided yet, I’ll do one or two of my songs, then the rest covers, but hopefully covers that are done in a bit of a different way.

For the first time in a long, long time I’m trying to do songs that mean something to me. When you’re doing that semi-pro musician thing, then typically you’re doing songs that other people want… But it’s been really nice to do songs that mean something to me. That’s a bit dangerous, actually, because some of the songs that I’m doing, I can’t play without crying!

I wanted to do a set of songs that that told a story about me and my journey, but more importantly about how I experience life as a member of the trans community.

It sounds like it’s going to be quite a vulnerable experience – what is it about Out & Wild that makes you feel able to do that?

It’s the way it’s set up. I know Polly set up the festival right from the start to be an open and safe space for all LGBTQIA women, completely inclusive. Whenever I go along to any LGBTQIA women’s event, and I’m very much on my guard, you know? Because when people say it’s an inclusive event, that doesn’t necessarily mean that people coming will see it in that way. But last year’s festival was just utterly magical. Absolutely magical.

From the very first minute, I wasn’t Bobbi the trans woman, I wasn’t Bobbi the role model. I was just Bobbi. And that was just so special for me, because I’ve never experienced that before… It was the first time that I’d ever been to an event where I could just be me and just relax and just have a brilliant time.

It was really emotional for me last year, going somewhere that was just so safe and I just didn’t have to worry. It was so, so special.

What steps has the festival taken to create such an inclusive event?

It’s so actively inclusive, Polly and her team have put in so much effort… The most important thing is that they’ve been absolutely crystal clear in their messaging around everything, that this is for everybody, this is trans-inclusive. If you don’t like that, you don’t have to come. But if you do come, that’s what you’re signing up for.

She’s also put in lots of effort and thought around facilities. Lots of the “gender critical movement” will say, you know, “We don’t want you in single-sex spaces.”

Actually it’s completely the opposite – for a lot of trans women, they’re people that feel so terrible about their bodies that the last thing they want to do is for their bodies to be seen. So she’s actually put lots of thought into if there’s somebody, trans women or anybody, that wants privacy, real privacy, for whatever reason, then those spaces will be there… It’s deeply understanding where the challenges are, and dealing with those challenges to really create proper inclusion. It’s very special.