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.
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.
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.
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.