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.
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).
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.
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.
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