'Queer to Stay' Announces Funding Recipients to Support LGBTQ Businesses

by Kevin Schattenkirk

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Monday September 21, 2020

'Queer to Stay' Announces Funding Recipients to Support LGBTQ Businesses
  (Source:Getty Images)

This week, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and Showtime announced that the Denver-based Blush & Blu — a bar which also provides activities from yoga, drag king game nights, live band performances, open mic nights, and dance parties — will be one of the recipients of the "Queer to Stay: An LGBTQ+ Business Preservation Initiative," which provides funding and support to preserve LGBTQ businesses — in particular, businesses that serve LGBTQ people of color, women and the transgender community. HRC President Alphonso David said:

"We must preserve affirming, welcoming community spaces for LGBTQ+ people — including young people who may not have supportive families or communities at home. HRC is thrilled to be partnering with SHOWTIME to support LGBTQ+-serving businesses in order to ensure that they can continue to provide a space for LGBTQ+ people to express ourselves freely, find community and be our authentic selves."

On receiving the award, Jody Bouffard, owner of Blush & Blu, stated:

"Blush & Blu is much more than a bar — it's a home, a safe space and a place of connection. This is a bar where all walks of life enter, and our job is to make sure that people's stays here are safe and pleasurable. Access to mental health and support is so limited and scarce today, in a time when so many individuals need support more than ever. When society continues to repeat the messages of 'you don't count' or 'your life is wrong' — spaces like Blush offer a reprieve to re-center strength and acceptance. The LGBTQ community has a safe space at Blush & Blu, and [the Queer to Stay initiative funding] will ensure that this community continues to have a safe space."

The "Queer to Stay: An LGBTQ+ Business Preservation Initiative" identifies and donates to a number of LGBTQ and allied businesses, selected for the LGBTQ markets they serve and based on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. With the pandemic, many LGBTQ businesses — bars, clubs, and restaurants — have suffered from loss of business, especially during Pride month in June when business would typically increase. In financially supporting these businesses, "Queer to Stay" is a commitment of support and advocacy for the LGBTQ community from HRC and Showtime.

Many LGBTQ and POC-owned businesses — bars and clubs in particular — have seen a decline in business due to assimilation, gentrification and the prevalence of dating apps. With many cities reinstating mandatory business closures after brief re-openings, all due to the circumstances of the pandemic, LGBTQ spaces are at a high risk of impact. Additionally, the National Community Reinvestment Coalition found that of those applying for Paycheck Protection Program loans, Black applicants more often faced poor and unfair treatment in contrast with white applicants. With the current conditions of the pandemic, it is unclear when businesses and consumers might return to any sense of normalcy.

The full list of awardees of "Queer to Stay: An LGBTQ+ Business Preservation Initiative" includes El Rio (San Francisco, CA), Freed Bodyworks (Washington, D.C.), My Sister's Room (Atlanta, GA), The Rainbow Times (Boston, MA), Seattle Gay News (Seattle, WA), Minnesota Transgender Health Coalition, (Minneapolis, MN), Alibi Lounge (New York, NY), and many more.

Kevin Schattenkirk is an ethnomusicologist and pop music aficionado.

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