Human Rights Campaign and SHOWTIME® Announce Recipients of Queer to Stay: An LGBTQ+ Business Preservation Initiative Funding

by Viet Tran

Recipients are businesses impacted by COVID-19 that serve LGBTQ people of color, women and the transgender community

Today, the Human Rights Campaign and SHOWTIME announce the ten recipients of “Queer to Stay: An LGBTQ+ Business Preservation Initiative” funding to support businesses that serve the LGBTQ+ community with a focus on LGBTQ people of color, women and the transgender community.

We must preserve affirming, welcoming community spaces for LGBTQ+ people – including young people who may not have supportive families or communities at home. HRC is thrilled to be partnering with SHOWTIME to support LGBTQ+-serving businesses in order to ensure that they can continue to provide a space for LGBTQ+ people to express ourselves freely, find community and be our authentic selves.

Alphonso David, Human Rights Campaign President

The awardees of “Queer to Stay: An LGBTQ+ Business Preservation Initiative” include: Alibi Lounge (New York, NY); Amplio Fitness (Rocky River, OH); Salon Benders (Long Beach, CA); Blush & Blu (Denver, CO); Doyenne (Charlotte, NC); El Rio (San Francisco, CA); Freed Bodyworks (Washington, D.C.); Herz (Mobile, AL); My Sister’s Room (Atlanta, GA); and Pearl Bar (Houston, TX).

The initiative celebrates and supports the LGBTQ+ community by identifying and donating to a number of businesses, selected based on the communities they serve and how COVID-19 has affected them. As COVID-19 continues to impact businesses nationwide, LGBTQ+-serving spaces experienced significant revenue loss in June, when patrons are more likely to frequent LGBTQ+ businesses for Pride Month. By directing funds to these businesses, “Queer to Stay” demonstrates a continued commitment from HRC and SHOWTIME to support and advocate for the diverse members of the LGBTQ+ community.

Amid the global pandemic, LGBTQ+-serving spaces are facing financial challenges and at risk of closures. LGBTQ+ bars, centers and businesses often serve as safe and affirming places for large portions of the community, especially for young queer and trans people and communities of color. Studies have shown that since the 1980s there has been a decline in LGBTQ+ bars across America because of assimilation, gentrification and the rise of dating apps. With some cities seeing the return of mandatory business closures due to the pandemic, LGBTQ+-serving spaces are among those that are at risk of high impact. People of color have also faced challenges and discrimination in sustaining their small businesses. According to a study by the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, Black applicants who applied for Paycheck Protection Program loans were treated poorly or unfairly compared to their white counterparts. As the nation continues to navigate the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is uncertainty as to when businesses, including LGBTQ+-serving establishments, will return to usual.

HRC also published a research brief outlining the particular health and economic risks faced by the LGBTQ+ community during the COVID-19 public health crisis. Key findings have shown that many LGBTQ+ people may lack the resources to effectively combat COVID-19, lack access to paid sick leave or live without health coverage and are more likely to work in an industry that has been most affected by the pandemic, putting them in greater economic jeopardy or increasing their exposure to the virus. HRC research has also shown that LGBTQ+ people are more likely to be unemployed and to have lost work hours compared to the general population, with transgender people and people of color most at risk.

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