Happy Pride Month! It's been over 50 years since the first Pride parades and protests honoring the Stonewall Uprising in 1969, and much has changed since then. LGBTQ people have earned the right to marry and secured some basic protections in the workplace. Public opinion has never been higher in our nation's history.
Still, there's a long way to go before we achieve true equity. LGTBQ people are still trying to carve out their existences and earn protections for the queer POC and trans people who make up our communities. While traditionally, businesses didn't exist to cater to LGBTQ identities, queer people have taken the reins into their own hands and founded companies that serve their communities and others.
But even with these heroes forging the path, less than 1% of businesses in the U.S. are queer-owned, so seeking out brands that are is vital in supporting the LGBTQ community. Here are 11 queer-owned businesses that everyone should support this Pride Month and all year round.
New York-based Automic Gold is a goldmine for affordable, sustainable, and gender-free jewelry. It was founded in 2009 by Al Sandimirova, a nonbinary trans immigrant. They offer everything from earrings to bracelets to wedding rings, suitable for any occasion.
Automic Gold promotes inclusivity and accessibility with their jewelry by creating pieces that people of any gender and size can wear. They make their jewelry with 14k gold and sustainable, reclaimed, recycled diamonds. Best of all, their prices are fixed at an affordable rate, so more people have access to them.
Founded in 2004, Flavnt is an Austin-based streetwear company that produces clothing for queer people by queer people. They don't label their clothing as women's or men's; it's clothing that anyone can wear regardless of gender identity or presentation. They also manufacture and sell binders in all sizes and different skin tones for any masculine AFAB person.
Flavnt is also committed to giving back to the community through donating to non-profits and supporting other queer-owned small businesses. They work to give back to the community by supporting transgender surgery fundraising. It's a socially conscious organization that you can feel proud to give your money to.
Rebirth Garments knows that when you feel comfortable in your wardrobe, you can feel comfortable in your day-to-day life. They produce gender-nonconforming, disability-accessible clothing and accessories for people who've often been at the margins of mainstream fashion. They even have a youth clothing line so people of all ages can enjoy gender euphoria.
On top of their radical fashion, they also sell zines, pins, face masks, stickers, and much more. Rebirth Garments offers workshops on a variety of topics, including the queer and disabled dress reform movement, making educational resources accessible for all marginalized queer people.
Run by queer youth in Portland, dfrntpigeon is an apparel and lifestyle brand that's all about making a difference, and not just in the lives of its consumers. They offer more than just fashion for LGBTQ people — dfrntpigeon works with at-risk youth by providing job training and paid design work. The company pairs youth with mentors who help them become better designers, radically improving their lives.
At dfrntpigeon, you can purchase clothing, stickers, tote bags, coffee mugs, and more, all featuring designs and art based on queer experience. By purchasing for them, you can be assured that you're making a difference too.
If you're a fan of comics and graphic novels, look no further than Northwest Press. This Seattle-based book publisher focuses on delivering LGBTQ comics and graphic novels. They're committed to elevating queer writers and artists by providing them with a wide audience and increasing the visibility of LGBTQ narratives.
Their quality is top-notch. Northwest Press's first release in 2011 won a Lambda Literary Award, and they've earned numerous other awards since.
Queer-owned, Black-owned Stuzo Clothing offers gender-free fashion that also celebrates Blackness. African-Panamian founder Stoney Michelli Love started the company with Uzo Ejikeme in Los Angeles back in 2010. The company celebrates love and life and creates socially-conscious clothing that invokes thought and emotion.
Numerous celebrities have worn their clothing, including Ruby Rose, Gina Yashere, Tiffany Haddish, Jada Pinkett-Smith, and Spike Lee. It's nonconforming, bold fashion at heart.
Traditional cosmetics brands are typically woman-centric and adhere to draconian beauty standards. Fluide is out to change that. The Brooklyn-based company aims to make queer people beautiful and offer cosmetics that are transformative and powerful. They offer vegan, paraben-free make-up for people of all gender expressions and skin tones.
Fluide is also a mission-driven business — they partner with and donate to LGBTQ health and advocacy non-profits. They're all about giving back to communities and selling beauty products specifically catered to people of all backgrounds and identities.
Founded by trans beauty influencer Nikita Dragun, Dragun Beauty believes in the transformative and elevating power of make-up. When the company started in 2019, it sold all of its stock literally overnight, displaying a powerful message to mainstream cosmetics brands — that there is a massive demand for LGBTQ-focused beauty products.
Dragun Beauty is the world's first trans-owned beauty brand, and it stands for gender inclusivity and empowerment. Their make-up is certified cruelty-free, vegan, and gluten-free, so you can feel even better rocking that killer look.
Coco and Breezy
When twin designers Corianna and Brianna Dotson started Coco and Breezy in 2009, their stunning eyewear was an instant success. Their designs have been featured in Vogue and Harper's Bazaar and worn by icons like Prince.
With their eyewear in locations all across the U.S., you can find yourself in a pair of Coco and Breezy's with just a trip to the eye doctor. But beware — their stock sells out fast.
Equator Coffees has been sourcing, roasting, brewing, and selling coffee since 1995. Founded in a garage in Marin County, they've always been committed to sustainability and superior products. They take their coffee seriously. They partner with global coffee-farming communities, sourcing directly from producers, and roast their coffee in energy-efficient machines.
They have several cafes in Marin County and the San Francisco area where they can serve you up their excellent coffee as it's meant to be brewed. Equator Coffees also believes in giving back to local and global communities. For every purchase of their B'Cause Blend coffee, they donate a dollar to cause-driven organizations, such as the Young Women's Freedom Center.
Married couple Fran Dunaway and Naomi Gonzalez are two tomboys who started TomboyX with one idea in mind — to create a cool button-up shirt for people with breasts. From the launch of their Kickstarter campaign, they were bombarded with people who finally felt seen in their gender expression.
Since then, TomboyX has expanded to creating gender-inclusive underwear for tomboys and all people. They offer bralettes, compression tops, bikinis, boy shorts, trunks, underwear, and more. They're also committed to sustainability and accessibility for disabled people, so there's even more to love about it.
Be a Socially-Conscious Consumer
Making socially-conscious choices with your money matters. By supporting small, queer-owned businesses, you're actively deciding to invest in ethical brands — and the people behind them who are working towards the material good. You're telling the market that LGBTQ identities and expressions are meaningful, and you're helping queer businesspeople support their communities.
Skip the Chik-fil-A for lunch today (and every day). Choose to support queer-owned businesses instead.
If you're gonna be the next trailblazing LGBTQ entrepreneur, awesome! We support you and want to help make that happen. Check out our article "How to Make Your Workplace a Safe Space for LGBTQ Employees" for tips on setting up an inclusive business environment where everyone feels welcome.