The Human Rights Campaign and SHOWTIME® are excited to launch the fourth year of "Queer to Stay: An LGBTQ+ Business Preservation Initiative", an effort that supports, uplifts and preserves small businesses that serve the LGBTQ+ community, particularly multiply-marginalized queer people.
Over the past three years, the “Queer to Stay” initiative has awarded funds to fifty LGBTQ+ businesses across the country. This year, the Human Rights Campaign and SHOWTIME® have increased our commitment to this program and will support at least an additional 25 small queer businesses.
While the COVID-19 National Emergency has ended, LGBTQ+-serving businesses are still facing financial challenges and are at risk of closures. LGBTQ+ bars, centers and businesses often serve as safe and affirming places for large portion 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. As the nation continues to navigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, there are still challenges facing LGBTQ+ serving small businesses. That's where Queer to Stay comes in.
At a time when LGBTQ+ businesses are working hard to stay open, they're also faced with fighting against a wave of hate like we've never seen before. Opponents of progress seek to challenge the very existence of LGBTQ+ people and the spaces that they occupy. That is why LGBTQ+-serving businesses are so important; they provide a space for queer folks to be their authentic selves and live their best lives— and they're not going anywhere. The Queer to Stay program aims to uplift these small businesses and provide them with the resources they need to continue making an impact in their communities— despite the aims of those who seek to silence us, we're here to stay.
If you own an LGBTQ+-serving business, we encourage you to apply for funding through this years "Queer to Stay" initiative.