Human Rights Campaign and SHOWTIME® Announce Recipients of Queer to Stay, Small Business Grant Funding

by Aryn Fields

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 twenty recipients of “Queer to Stay: An LGBTQ+ Business Preservation Initiative” to support and uplift small businesses that focus on LGBTQ+ people of color, women and the transgender community and have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in June 2020, the inaugural “Queer to Stay” initiative awarded funds to 10 LGBTQ+ businesses across the country. Over the past 18 months, LGBTQ+ businesses have continued to suffer due to the continued need for on-and-off shutdowns and limited capacity regulations, which is why the Human Rights Campaign and SHOWTIME have doubled the program to support 20 businesses in its second year. Additionally, five LGBTQ+ Showtime stars nominated one of their favorite businesses for the Queer to Stay grant. Watch here to hear from the actors and business owners about the importance of preserving queer spaces.

It is crucial to preserve affirming, welcoming spaces and services for LGBTQ+ people. This initiative celebrates and supports the community by identifying and donating to multiply marginalized LGBTQ+ owned, and serving, small businesses around the country. We have been living through a public health crisis for far longer than we ever could have imagined, without a clear end in sight, which has only compounded the financial inequities small LGBTQ+ businesses face. We are thrilled to work with SHOWTIME once again to ensure that LGBTQ+ patrons, employees and business owners continue to occupy spaces freely, openly and as their authentic selves.

Nicole Cozier, Human Rights Campaign Senior Vice President of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

The awardees of “Queer to Stay: An LGBTQ+ Business Preservation Initiative” include: Al’s on 7th (Birmingham, AL), Arledge Comics (Port Orchard, WA), BUDDY’S (Houston, TX), Our Place (Birmingham, AL), Club OMG (San Francisco, CA), Cowlick (Brooklyn, NY), Cubbyhole (New York, NY), Cuties (Los Angeles, CA), Ellen D. Management (Los Angeles, CA), Gossip Grill (San Diego, CA), The Lipstick Lounge (Nashville, TN), Nickel Diner (Los Angeles, CA), Rebirth Garments (Chicago, IL), Roscoe’s Tavern (Chicago, IL), Spectrum: The Other Clinic (Hattiesburg, MS), Stuzo Clothing (Los Angeles, CA), Sweetlime Alterations (Cleveland, OH), TAGG Magazine (Washington, DC), The Fireplace (Washington, DC) and Wang Chung’s (Honolulu, HI).

SHOWTIME is passionate about empowering all voices within the LGBTQ+ community, and through Queer to Stay, we’re continuing to elevate LGBTQ+ small businesses across the country helping them to broaden their footprint and impact. In addition to financially supporting a diverse mix of LGBTQ+ establishments across the nation – including a clinic, restaurants, bars, salons and shops – we’re expanding into educational resources to help business owners surmount overwhelming obstacles and flourish during the disruption of the pandemic.

Michael Engleman, Chief Marketing Officer, Showtime Networks Inc

People of color have also faced significant challenges, including discrimination and socio-economic barriers in sustaining their small businesses. According to one study, Black applicants who applied for Paycheck Protection Program loans were treated unfairly compared to their white counterparts. 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.

In addition to monetary grants, the program will include educational webinars and teaching modules, created by Horizon Media, to help the small businesses manage various aspects of their operations, including financial management, search engine optimization and social media marketing.

We created the teaching modules based on the findings of recent Horizon market research on the most common challenges facing LGBTQ+ businesses. The goal is to provide a valuable resource that helps LGBTQ+ business owners grow sales and overcome the significant challenges of managing a business amid a global pandemic.

Marc Fenty, SVP, Director OOH, and a member of HorizonOUT

In 2020, HRC Foundation published a research brief outlining the health and economic risks faced by the LGBTQ+ community during the COVID-19 pandemic. Key findings show 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 Foundation 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.

The Human Rights Campaign reports on news, events and resources of the Human Rights Campaign Foundation that are of interest to the general public and further our common mission to support the LGBTQ+ community.

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