Amid Historic Wave of Anti-LGBTQ+ Attacks, Human Rights Campaign and SHOWTIME® Launch Fourth Year of QUEER TO STAY, an LGBTQ+ Small Business Initiative

by Jared Todd

This year 25 new small businesses will receive grants, growing the program’s footprint to support a total of 75 LGBTQ+ businesses since its inception

WASHINGTON — Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) civil rights organization, and SHOWTIME, announced the fourth consecutive year of “QUEER TO STAY: An LGBTQ+ Business Preservation Initiative” (QTS) that aims to uplift and preserve small businesses that serve the LGBTQ+ community; particularly businesses that are owned by or empower LGBTQ+ people of color, women and the transgender community.

This small business grant initiative comes at a time when the LGBTQ+ community, especially transgender and non-binary people, are experiencing historic discriminatory legislative attacks – over 520 pieces of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation this year alone – and increased bullying from classrooms to social media platforms. With some companies standing by their values of diversity, equity and inclusion in this moment, the business community continues to face coordinated attacks from extremist groups and individuals whose sole aim is to push LGBTQ+ people back in the closet.

Additionally, in the years since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, LGBTQ+ businesses have faced severe financial challenges, and many are at risk of permanently closing. In 2021, the HRC Foundation issued a report, COVID-19 and the LGBTQ Community: Vaccinations and the Economic Toll of the Pandemic, which highlights data showing that LGBTQ+ adults and LGBTQ+ adults of color were facing the highest rates of unemployment since HRC and PSB began tracking community unemployment at the start of the pandemic. LGBTQ+ adults, bisexual adults, LGBTQ+ adults of color and transgender adults were more likely than the general population to have recently had their work hours reduced due to the pandemic.

As we continue to fight back against historic legislative attacks and extremism aimed at silencing us, uplifting our queer-owned businesses and safe spaces has never been more important. That’s why I’m excited to kick off our fourth year of the ‘QUEER TO STAY’ initiative. We’re excited to celebrate and support our community by putting funds directly into the hands of LGBTQ+-owned, and serving, small businesses around the country. Creating new and saving existing spaces for the LGBTQ+ community requires all of our support. This partnership with SHOWTIME is a great example of what it looks like for companies to show up for the LGBTQ+ community during these challenging times.”

Kelley Robinson, Human Rights Campaign President

As we’ve seen a heartbreaking trend toward discrimination against individuals based on sexual orientation and gender identity, we are proud to continue investing in LGBTQ+ businesses in partnership with HRC and expanding access to resources. We are committed to a reality that allows all individuals to be their authentic selves without exception, not only through diverse representation in our content but also in physical spaces for LGBTQ+ patrons, employees and business owners.”

Puja Vohra, EVP, Consumer Marketing, Paramount+ and Showtime

The businesses will be selected based on the communities they serve and how COVID-19 has affected them. “Queer to Stay” is accepting applications now until August 31, 2023. Eligible businesses can apply at Recipients will be notified and announced this coming fall. HRC and SHOWTIME have created a video highlighting former QUEER TO STAY recipients to help encourage LGBTQ+ businesses to apply.

Showtime Networks Inc. (SNI), a wholly owned subsidiary of Paramount, owns and operates the premium service SHOWTIME®, which features critically acclaimed original series, provocative documentaries, box-office hit films, comedy and music specials and hard-hitting sports. SHOWTIME is available as a stand-alone streaming service across all major streaming devices and, as well as via cable, DBS, telco and streaming video providers. SNI also operates the premium services THE MOVIE CHANNEL™ and FLIX®, as well as on demand versions of all three brands. SNI markets and distributes sports and entertainment events for exhibition to subscribers on a pay-per-view basis through SHOWTIME PPV®. For more information, go to

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ+ people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.

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