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LGBTQIA2S+ Small Businesses To Support

by Caitlin Donatini

June brings a celebration of love and self-acceptance that we know as Pride. While Pride celebrations throughout the month are always a fun way to celebrate the movement, this year The Ones To Know will highlight LGBTQIA2S+ owned small businesses that you can support to help make a difference in the communities that we call home. These businesses, namely these business owners, are encouraging open dialogues for continued education, and to create a safe space for all to express themselves fully. We encourage you to support these establishments and the entrepreneurs behind them, while continuing to learn about the history and culture of the LGBTQIA2S+ community. First up, New York.

Fluide Beauty - for all your beauty needs.

Owners Isabella Giancarlo and Laura Kraber started We Are Fluide to provide vegan, cruelty-free and paraben-free cosmetics for all skin shades and gender expressions. They use their business as a platform to amplify the voices of queer and gender expansive identities and firmly believe in the power of self-expression. You can find beauty products of all kinds for your lips, eyes and face, as well as nail polish. They are also currently offering special deals on Pride bundles on their website.

Phoenix Bar - for a night out on the town.

The Phoenix, owned by Brenda Walsh, has been known for catering to a diverse and trendy crowd since its opening under a former name in 1999. Today it has become a gay institution in the East Village. Offering up a rock-and-roll vibe with drag shows, trivia nights and a jukebox-packed crowd, locals will tell you the Phoenix is not only welcoming, but also has the best jukebox in the city.

Via Carota - for a delicious Italian dinner.

Owned and operated by two self-taught chefs, Rita Sodi and Jody Williams, with a "passion for all things Italian," Via Carota is famous in the West Village. Offering up delicious cuisine, a welcoming atmosphere and a seasonally changing menu, Via Carota strives to deliver fresh, interesting approaches to your traditional Italian cuisine. If you’re not dining in, Via Carota offers pick-up and delivery options on their website.

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CREDIT: @viacarota

Kirrin Finch - for your next shopping adventure.

Owned by Laura Moffat and Kelly Sanders, this clothing boutique provides women and non-binary individuals a better selection of well-tailored, menswear-inspired looks. Fed up with having to settle for ill-fitting men’s clothes and having to spend even more money getting things altered, the Moffats disrupted the market with gender-affirming wardrobe staples (e.g., tweed blazers, sleek chinos and fun-patterned button-down shirts) rooted in sustainability and fair trade practices.

Bluestockings Cooperative - your new favorite bookstore.

Owned by Kathryn Welsh and Raquel Espasande, Bluestockings Cooperative is located in lower Manhattan. It is New York’s only queer-, trans-, sex worker-run bookstore, and it's a treasure trove of literature that educates and entertains. You can also pick up limited-edition novelty sweatshirts and decks of tarot cards. The space also hosts various events (including a number of different book clubs).

Next up, some of our favorite LGBTQIA2S+ small-businesses that you need to check out if you’re in Los Angeles, CA.

Akbar - for a fabulous night out.

Akbar was opened decades ago by Scott Craig and Peter Alexander, as a response to the AIDS epidemic in the 80s. Now it's a landmark bar in East LA for dancing, karaoke nights, drag shows and community gatherings. From rock-and-roll to disco, you’ll find a little bit of everything at Akbar.

Bon Vivant - for your next date night.

Opened by Tricia LaBelle in 2012, Bon Vivant is a Parisian-inspired restaurant where you can find comfort, community and eclectic French and Californian cuisine. The Parisian influence of Tricia’s partner, Kelly, offers a laid-back atmosphere on the West Coast. It’s a place of book clubs, business meetings, first dates and 100th dates. You’ll feel a warm welcome when you enter, and you’ll have a happy belly when you leave.

Otherwild - for your sustainable apparel needs.

Since 2012, Rachel Berks, owner of Otherwild, has been showcasing goods made with care by a community of artists and designers in the area. You’ll find beautiful and well-designed products and apparel, as well as an array of refillable bulk home cleaning and personal care products + lo/no-waste reusables. It's definitely a must-see destination for your next shopping trip.

The New Jalisco Bar - for a spicy, good time.

Currently owned by Maria Rosa Garcia, this classic dive bar has been around longer than most of us have. It is also known to be a lifeline for the city’s Latinx LGBTQ+ community since the early 2000s. The New Jalisco Bar is cash only, but you’ll find great music, a fun dance floor and action-packed drag shows that will take your night to the next level of fun.

Lockwood51 - for your next graphic T purchase.

Lockwood51 is a queer-focused apparel brand that kicked off in 2014. The owner, who's historically anonymous, opened the brand's first brick and mortar in LA in 2019. Lockwood51 offers T’s, tanks and hoodies alike featuring in-your-face queer-centric graphics as well as shirts stamped with the logos of other gone-but-not-forgotten LA clubs.

Moving right along to the windy city, here are some places that are worth checking out in Chicago.

Chicago Sugar Daddy Patisserie - for your next sweet treat.

Owned by Rayan Ibasco & James Cox, this Lakeview sweets shop opened in October 2021. Chicago Sugar Daddy offers everything from traditional cakes, brownies, truffles and cupcakes to savory options like breads. No delivery options here just yet, but you can order ahead for pick-up on the Chicago Sugar Daddy Website.

Kit Kat Lounge & Supper Club - your next brunch spot.

The Kit Kat Lounge, owned by Ramesh Ariyanayakam, is located in the Boystown neighborhood of Chicago. While it’s known for its disco-inspired, South Beach aesthetic and their 'Divalicious Brunch,' you’ll also find upscale and contemporary cuisine and a "world famous" martini selection on the drink menu. From the ambiance, to the music, to the performances, this will be a brunch that you’ll never forget.

Foursided - for your next custom framing project.

With locations in both Andersonville and Lakeview, Foursided offers custom framing, unique art and gifts and antiques in a store that is a self-professed "ultimate curiosities emporium." Having opened the original storefront in 2001, owner Todd Mack looks to bring each client’s imagination to life with art, custom framing, curated gifts, ephemera and vintage objects.

Milk Handmade - your go-to for sustainable clothing.

Established in 2012 by owner and Chicago native, Hallie Borden, Milk Handmade offers ethical, sustainable clothing and goods in the Andersonville neighborhood of Chicago. You’ll find items by independent designers and makers who produce locally and ethically with environmentally friendly practices. If you’re in the market for wedding attire, you can also check out the sister store Honey Bridal.

Rattleback Records - for all the records your heart desires.

Rattleback Records is owned by Paul Ruffino and is located in the Andersonville neighborhood. You can sell your used records, CDs, cassettes and DVDs for cash or browse their collection of vinyls. With an ever-changing inventory, you’ll want to make this a usual weekly stop to check out the latest gems available in-store.

And last, but not least: some top picks in Portland, OR.

Santé Bar - for a fun night on the town.

Behind the classic wooden bar at Santé Bar is an exceptionally friendly staff tending to a well-appointed selection of liquor and housemade shrubs and syrups, which feature prominently in owner Veronique Lafont's craft cocktail creations. With its low-lit atmosphere, it’s the perfect swanky, romantic change of pace to spice up your next night out.

Sante
credit: @pdxsantebar

Taquería Los Puñales - your spot for homemade tortillas.

It all began when two gay men with a background in the service industry wanted to create an openly queer dining establishment. In June 2020, owners Brian Aster and David Madrigal made it happen with Taquería Los Puñales. The space is decked out in queer art and photos of RuPaul and you’ll usually find the owners making tinga-filled, house-made tortillas behind the counter.

Pixie Retreat - for delicious plant-based food.

Owners Theresa Keane and Willow O’Brien met in San Francisco back in 2005 and bonded over the positive effects that a raw, plant-based diet can have on physical and mental health. In 2007 they opened Pixie Retreat, which offers craveable, nourishing sweet and savory fast foods made from scratch at Central Eastside Laboratorie & Makery. They remain dedicated to using whole ingredients every step of the way.