Legendarium: Providing an Inclusive and Queer Alcohol-Free Space


Mason Orr

(Design by Mason Orr | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Arlo Marler


Close your eyes and imagine a small house, full of books, coffee, tea and baked goods, greeting you on your long journey. Now open your eyes and head straight to Legendarium, a bookstore in Salt Lake City that has all of this and more, including poetry readings and Dungeons & Dragons nights. Stock up on dice and D&D books or order one of their many drinks such as the Gondor Fog or the Hearty Harfoot, and choose from their wide selection of science fiction, fantasy and horror books. 

Raelle Blatter, who uses she/they pronouns, and Steph Blatter, who uses they pronouns, are the two nerdy siblings providing this inclusive space for speculative fiction lovers and tabletop role-playing gamers in the Salt Lake Valley. Legendarium makes specific efforts to be free from alcohol and welcoming to all ages.

When asked what was most important to them in providing this space, Steph Blatter said, “I think community honestly, especially coming out of the pandemic. We wanted to create a safe and inclusive space for queer people and nerds and really anybody who loves books and wants to find community and belonging.”

The space is just that: inclusive, cozy and welcoming. Shelves line most of the wall space, the windows are adorned with geeky stained glass pictures, and every nook and cranny serves a purpose. 

The genres that Legendarium, named after Tolkien’s Legendarium, holds within its walls “speak to a lot of people and tell stories that aren’t often told,” said Raelle Blatter.

“We wanted to be able to merge the books and those stories with a space where people can feel like they are welcome, where they can hang out and work, and where they can have drinks and food,” she added.

Healing Through Storytelling and Community

There is an active community aspect that is central to tabletop role-playing games like Dungeons & Dragons. With D&D being so integral to Legendarium, it is particularly welcoming to those on the margins of society, especially queer folks and queer youth.

Every Friday the store puts on its Dungeons & Dragons night, where fostering a safe environment is essential. They have had people playing in games from ages 10 all the way up to 60.

“Everybody comes to the table knowing that it’s expected to be kind and respectful,” Steph Blatter said. “We always kick off with lines and veils and discussions of what things people might be triggered by and how to keep the game safe.”

Lines and veils are safety tools used at the table to gauge players’ comfort with certain themes and topics in a game session. At the beginning of the game, players can share their veils, which are topics that someone is maybe okay with as long as it isn’t pushed too far. Lines are hard boundaries that players are not comfortable doing or talking about in a game. 

When it comes to topics such as alcoholism and drug use during D&D nights, it’s happened frequently that players have specifically requested for them not to be included in a game.

“It’s been pretty common for players to say, ‘Can we not have a hardcore drunken tavern scene because I don’t want alcohol in the game,'” Steph Blatter said. “Or, ‘Can we make sure we don’t have any drugs involved with any of the [nonplayable characters].’ So people feel safe enough to talk about that and then share that that’s something that is important to them.”

Tabletop role-playing games can also be a place to explore yourself and your identity as there are a wealth of character customization elements to games such as Dungeons & Dragons.

“A lot of people, including us and our family have found really wonderful healing through D&D and being able to roleplay and work through things,” Raelle Blatter said.

Steph Blatter added, “If there’s something about yourself that you’re not sure about, you can create a character and play that character in a game. Our sibling came out because of this. And the literature, like sci-fi and fantasy and horror, can reimagine anything.” 

With so much of queer community being built around bars and clubs, it is equally important for spaces like Legendarium to exist, spaces that can include everyone, including neurodivergent folks.

“I feel like we are all, everybody who works here, is neurodivergent to some extent in some way or another, and for me, as much as I can love going out, it can also be stressful and its not always the most comfortable space to be, in a bar or club,” Raelle Blatter said. “I think for a lot of queer people who just don’t always feel that they are as likely to fit in as well, or are as comfortable in those kind of spaces, this is a different space for people that prefer quieter or prefer different types of activities or more nerdy activities.”

Max Brunt is nonbinary and is an employee who works at Legendarium. Spaces like this are very important to Brunt: “I am a recovering alcoholic and so I love working here. … It’s just very nice to be in a space that is queer and not a bar.”

As for being a science fiction and fantasy fan, these genres are very important to Brunt when it comes to representation. A book that exemplifies this is Becky Chambers’ “A Psalm for the Wild-Built” because being nonbinary in the book is commonplace and normalized as the story radiates hope and optimism.

“Being in recovery, it’s really nice to have spaces like this where you can come and hang out and there’s no alcohol around,” Brunt said. 

‘A book and a hot cuppa’

Tea and coffee are great alcohol alternatives because of their associated coziness and hospitality.

“I love this idea, I don’t know if you’ve seen this general phrase, but for a lot of my friends, if you are ever in town I’ll have a book and a hot cuppa waiting for you,” Steph Blatter said. “I don’t know about you but that’s how our family shows love.”

Just by looking at the menu of specialty drinks provided by the store, you can tell lots of love and hard work was put into it. Legendarium follows in line with the long tradition of queer spaces, like queer bars, but without alcohol and with a variety of community events. This is especially important at a time when more and more youth identify as LGBTQ.

“It’s important for us to have spaces to stay and sit and talk, and it feels like a welcoming environment because you can have pastries or quiches or drinks that just welcome you in and create some kind of connection there,” Raelle Blatter said. “I feel like alcohol can do that where you sit down and have alcohol together. But here you sit down and have some really wonderful tea or coffee together.”

In a space like Legendarium, there is also no peer pressure — the atmosphere is more laid back and community-based. 

Something that people might not recognize as often is that food and drink are an art.

“Ellie has put so much work into the specialty drinks we have and it’s been a team effort to come up with these ridiculously fun names that reference all the titles and things that we have,” Steph Blatter said. “I think that’s an expression of our art and the things that we are passionate about. We are not just giving you a latte, there’s a lot of thought put into this. It just makes it more intimate, I think.”

If there is one thing Steph and Raelle Blatter want people to take away from their store, it’s that anyone is welcome and no purchase is required to stop by and visit. For university students, they want you to know that you are welcome in their space to study, read or chat.

If you’re interested in their D&D nights feel free to join in on Fridays, and if you are only looking for a place to rest and build community, Legendarium’s door is always open. 


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