12 LGBTQ Businesses To Know Right Now

12 LGBTQ+ Businesses To Know Right Now

by Cody Bryan

This Pride month, we’re honoring those who have contributed to the foundation of today’s culture, by celebrating local and diverse queer businesses in both New York and LA. Our bicoastal D1A team has put together a list of the best LGBTQ creators, culture hackers and small business owners that have helped drive inclusivity through their work on our two coasts.

Sexuality, gender identity and overall queer culture is an ever-evolving education. As I began to think about what the LGBTQ+ community means to me, and how it’s shaped the person I am today, I found myself in an interesting conversation with my dad about another important queer person in our lives.

“Some people are non-binary, meaning they don’t identify with masculine or feminine gender norms,” I educated my dad during yet another COVID-19 late night conversation. In that moment, I understood the privilege I have and how lucky I am to be able to have an open and honest dialogue with my parents, continuously enlightening, not only myself, but the people closest to me.

This openness is something I always strive to bring into my work each and every day, educating clients on diversity and inclusion, and thinking through campaigns with a unique lens, especially during today’s climate. American gay liberation activist and self-identified drag queen, Marsha P. Johnson said it best, “No pride for some of us without liberation for all of us.”

Whether you’re coming out to your family for the first time, transitioning into your true identity, or even trying to be an ally to the community, it’s important to immerse yourself in its rich culture and always let your mind be open and willing to learn both personally and professionally. So, even if you can’t stop in for a visit now, make sure to check out these innovators and help in their fight for equality and inclusion for all.

New York

1. Gay Beer: Brewed in Brooklyn, this beer was made by two avid beer enthusiasts who wanted to create a product to “start a conversation and make a connection” with a focus on their community.

2. The Phluid Project: Phluid Project was the first gender-free retail store in NYC, and while their flagship location is now permanently closed, they continue to promote their non-binary fashions with their online shop.

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Nearly two years ago we began a journey. A journey to open a space free of judgement. Our mission..to build a company grounded in values, to challenge social constructs around gender expression and embrace folks all gender identifies. To create a space where every person has the opportunity to explore and celebrate their authentic selves. To join a growing movement and give space for a community to come together and gather around ideas, challenges, and celebrations. With over 200 events, we amplified our voice and the world took notice. The location was strategically placed where there was access from all burrows and visible to visitors around the world. With well over 100,000 visitors, we became a destination for people from around the world, a haven to be welcomed, free, safe and unjudged. The team, the soul of the business, daily shares with us their light, love and passion for life. Opening a physical store is full of challenges, especially of late. But, it is my greatest accomplishment and it has offered opportunities for infinite relationships and a deep a understanding and appreciation for the community that we serve. In the spirit of embracing fluidity, of not being held to one way of being, but to find freedom in exploration, we’ve decided to embrace impermanence and let go of our physical space at 684 Broadway. In this new year, we’ll continue our social platform, website, engage our community in new and exciting ways, show up around the world with pop-ups (yes, we’re coming to see you!), and collaborate with world class brands and work to create safe spaces for our community to flourish. I’d be insincere if I didn’t tell you how difficult a decision this has been. We’ve accomplished what we set out to do and have forced a conversation, raised awareness and elevated consciousness. We are The Phluid Project and we are free of the contracts we never agreed to sign. This our world and we are UNDENIABLE. So, please stop by before December 24. I’d like to say thank you. Please consider doing much of your holiday sales at Phluid, in store and online. And happy 2020. It’s going to be an incredible year. #bekind #bekindphluid #thephluidproject

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3. Papi Juice: Known for their epic sold out parties in Brooklyn, Papi Juice is more than a nightlife staple, they are an art collective that celebrates and highlights the queer and trans community of color.

4. Lagusta's Luscious: Lagusta’s Luscious chocolates are superb, like really freaking delicious, and they’re made even better when you find out that they’re small-batch, ethically-sourced, and 100% vegan.

5. Shaquanda’s Hot Sauce: Named after creator Andre Springer’s drag alter ego, the hot sauce broke onto the scene at Bushwig 2013, and can now be found at local eateries and merchants and can even be snagged in LA’s @Otherwild. As an added bonus, the signature Hot Pepper Sauce uses single-origin, fair trade turmeric from queer-owned company @DisaporaCo.

6. Mobilizing Our Brothers Initiative (MOBI): Built to create social events for Black queer men, MOBI prides itself on creating unique events that foster a sense of connection by supporting the community, personal health and wellness, and professional growth and opportunities.


7. Cuties Coffee LA: Eater called Cuties “the queerest little coffee shop in LA,” but this East Hollywood spot is more than just a great place for donuts and lattes (though theirs are really, really good). It’s a gathering space dedicated to connecting, inspiring, and supporting the queer community.

8. Boy Smells: You can find these masculine-meets-feminine candles (like Cinderose 🙌) in shops all over the world, but the scents are all developed and mixed in the LA home of founders Matthew Herman and David Kien.

9. L.A.G. Vintage: Partners Arron Mendoza and Ben Phen run this Silverlate vintage shop that regularly hosts pop-ups at Eagle L.A., Akbar and other queer nightlife hotspots. Their brick-and-mortar is home to queer art, music, comedy and social events.

10. The Birdcage: Located in the attic of the Victorian in SaMo, the Birdcage is one of the few gay bars west of the 405. It’s got eclectic style, strong cocktails, and a strict no-photos policy to keep it a safe space for everyone inside.

11. Bloom and Plume: Artist Maurice Harris is one of Hollywood’s most in-demand floral designers. You’ve probably seen his insanely gorgeous creations for clients like Dior, Louis Vuitton, Nike, and Gucci.

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Everybody doesn’t like something, but nobody does it like Rosa Lee or me for that matter. Serving up all the sweet decadence of a jelly filled pumpkin Turkish delight topped with a lovely tahini sauce, to the flakiness of a fresh warm French biscuit with butter, cherry jam and a few wasps flying around because apparently they like ah French biscuit too, rolling into the full robust all natural dark chocolate of my skin after soaking in a lavender and @lelabofragrances oil bubble bath in my Paris hotel while chomping on other chocolate treats, and to finish with a side of Esther Williams in a low-budget no water having Busby Berkeley production of “Gold Diggers of Echo Park Adjacent Because An Evening Bag is A Must, No Lady is Sure at Night”. In this opening scene we find Rosa Lee and Maria are attempting to hide from the cops in plain sight by blending in with the landscape as an urban Greek goddess sculpture that been kissed by the sun ever so slightly atop a bolt of @hommeplisse_isseymiyake millennial pink fabric next to a raggedy ass lamp post and a bike rack (off screen)... Question is do you think the cops will find them or are they serving up enough passing realness? #whatjusthappened #whereisshetho #vacationrecap #howisshetho #blessedanfhighlyfavored #bookedandblessed #backtowork #backtoschool #backtoblack #backtoback #backfat #putyourbackintoit #feelingthefantasy #blackboymagic

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12. Otherwild: Home of “the future is female” tee, this design studio and feminist shop features amazing creations from jewelers, ceramists, woodworkers, witches, and more.

While we build up and support those on the frontlines of today’s fight, let’s never forget that the rights we have today as LGBTQ+ people, stem from the riots and protests started by Black and Latinx trans women in the late 60s. The fight will and should never end. Don’t ever forget their names and make sure you’re shouting Tony McDade, Nina Pop and all the others from your rooftops. If we continue to fight for what our ancestors started, we can one day see the dream that America has been trying to achieve from its inception — freedom for all.