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It’s become almost a running joke now how quick corporations are to switch off their rainbow-colored profiles come July 1st and get back to business as usual post-Pride Month. We’ve come a long way since Absolut introduced their rainbow vodka bottle in 2009 and sparked a wave of Pride-themed items (from Skittles to mouthwash). While more brands have been putting their money where their mouth is, the “pinkwashing” of regular products from big-name companies is still a concern, especially once the spotlight of visibility shifts off LGBTQ issues after June.
As the rainbow-colored merch leaves shelves, Alphonso David, President of the Human Rights Campaign says it’s crucial to support LGBTQ businesses not just during June, but all year round. “Supporting LGBTQ-owned brands is an important way to continue to uplift and advocate for our community beyond Pride month,” he tells Rolling Stone. While Pride month may be over, the fight for LGBTQ equality is ongoing.”
Human Rights Campaign also started a partnership with Showtime last year called “Queer to Stay,” which gives grants to small LGBTQ-owned and serving businesses who have been particularly impacted by the pandemic. But along with supporting local LGBTQ brands, there’s something to be said about how corporations should continue to show their support for the community.
“True corporate allies don’t market to our community, they join our movement and incorporate LGBTQ people and issues 365 days a year,” says Rich Ferraro, Chief Communications Officer at GLAAD. “Corporate allyship must continue through the inclusion of LGBTQ people in ads and public brand communications, and by leveraging a brand’s reach and power to pass pro-LGBTQ legislation like the Equality Act.”
Ferraro says that in a year when anti-LGBTQ legislation was introduced in states around the country at a record rate (especially targeting trans youth), brands should also take the time to review their internal policies for LGBTQ employees, as well as end donations to anti-LGBTQ politicians.
But what can the average person (I.e. you) do to help? Ferraro says there are always ways to continue the spirit of Pride Month, especially by patronizing LGBTQ-owned restaurants, bars, and small businesses, all of which have been hit hard by the pandemic. We’ve rounded up some LGBTQ-owned and founded brands that you can support all year. Give back to the community and enjoy some quality products (with or without rainbows).
1. Ghost Democracy
Ghost Democracy is an inclusive and clean skincare brand founded by Rex Chou, who, after working in big beauty corporations for over a decade, decided to start a company to show that everyone should have access to high-quality, affordable skin products, regardless of gender.
The brand also takes their “cleanliness” seriously, since their collection go beyond the “no sulfates and no parabens” labels you typically see, cutting out other silicones, oils, and fragrances from their products. Using a higher concentration of lead ingredients (aka the good stuff), we love their Starter Kit, which features a deeply moisturizing and quick-absorbing daily cleanser, moisturizer, and serum. Great for all skin types, this is a quick way to get into a skincare routine where you can trust the ingredients (and not just resort to splashing water on your face).
Originally known as “Toys in Babeland,” Babeland was Seattle’s first feminist sex-toy store founded by Claire Cavanah and Rachel Venning, which eventually opened several locations in New York. Though, nowadays, you can get their best-selling sex toys online, the sales of which have spiked over the last two years as people look to self-pleasure as a new form of self-care.
One of our favorites from the shop is the popular “Club Vibe 3.OH” vibrator, which reacts to ambient sounds and sends a corresponding wave pattern that “grooves” and pulsates to music. Choose from five pre-set pulsations or use “tease” mode, which lets you or a partner manually control the sensations with the included wireless remote (the head is also designed to stimulate the prostate). A single charge gets you up to an hour of play, any day of the year. Right now, you can also save $30 on orders over $150 with the promo code 30JUNE.
Bokksu delivers to your door authentic Japanese snacks, candies, and teas sourced directly from centuries-old family makers. Founder Danny Taing started the monthly subscription box company when he couldn’t find local Japanese snacks and foods in the U.S. after living in Japan.
Not only will you be supporting an LGBTQ-founded business, you’ll also be supporting local snack-makers across Japan. Like your enthusiastic best friend coming back from a year abroad, you’ll get seasonal and regional picks like Hiroshima Seaweed Tempura Chips to Kyoto Matcha Chocolate Cake, for example. You can always purchase individual snacks and teas (even kitchenware) from the Bokksu market, or get a monthly subscription. Each box is curated for a certain theme, and comes with a booklet that explains where your snacks come from, as well as providing cultural facts.
4. Xula Herbs CBD
Xula Herbs is a not only LGBTQ-owned, but Latina and Black-owned hemp brand founded by Karina Primelles and Mennlay Golokeh Aggrey. Born out of Mexico City, their mission is to utilize the ancestral knowledge of plant-based healing practices and combine it with modern CBD science to uplift “all bodies left out of our society’s gaze”.
Their herb shop features tinctures and salves with the one-two bunch of soothing relief: organically-grown botanicals combined with full-spectrum CBD and CBG blends (or just potent CBD). There’s also a line dedicated to people with wombs, with tinctures curated to help ease discomforts from period cramps, PMS, menopause, and hormonal imbalances. It’s never been a better time to throw some coin to support an LGBTQ-owned brand, since they’re also partnered with the Floret Coalition, an anti-racist collective of small businesses in the cannabis and cannabis-adjacent industry that provide support and donations to Black, Latinx, and Indigenous communities.
5. Alder New York
Looking for vegan-formulated skincare that’ll also get the job done? Alder New York is a queer and woman-owned independent skincare brand making products that give a plant-powered clean to all skin types, no matter your age, gender, or ethnicity. David J. Krause and Nina Zilka passion for wellness lead them to create an uncomplicated, unfussy skincare that we honestly can’t get enough of.
Besides having some seriously soothing face masks that’ll give Lush a run for their money, if you’re looking for a basic routine (or don’t know where to start), you can’t go wrong with their Clean Skincare Gift Set — get maximum results in as few steps as possible with their facial cleanser, balancing face serum, hydrating oil, nourishing cream, and free radical-fighting moisturizer (basically just a barrier against pollutants) that you can mix and match. Bonus: if you travel a lot, this set is TSA-compliant and can fit easily into a carry-on bag for high-quality skincare on the go.
6. Couplet Coffee
Founded by first-gen immigrant, lesbian, and a lover of all things coffee, Gefen Skolnick, Couplet Coffee asks the question: who says specialty coffee can’t be for everyone? Sustainably-harvested and consciously-produced, you can order bags of their specialty blend, espressos and single-origin beans online. No pretentious tasting notes or coffee snob gatekeeping here — just a deliciously smooth cup. If you have the beans, but not the gear, you can also get yourself a cow-themed “Mooka” pot and “Lovers” French Press on the site.
Purchase 12 ounce or five-pound bags on their own, or save 5% off with a coffee subscription. You can choose how often you want it delivered (weekly or up to every four weeks), then pick one of their popular blends like their single-origin Peaceful Peru. Let your cup of joe come to you, and enjoy the “maximalist”-designed bag, too (it’s holographic!).
The first Lockwood location opened in Astoria, Queens in 2013, where owner Mackenzi Farquer lives with her wife and kid — which makes sense, since Lockwood’s online store feels like finding the best Mom & Mom corner shop online. The site features collections of affordable lifestyle goods, focusing on local makers and up-and-coming brands, and it’s great for if you have an upcoming wedding or baby shower to go to and don’t want to end up panic-buying a gift on Amazon last minute (though we won’t judge).
But we love their curated gift bundles, which make a thoughtful gift for anyone in your life, or just to yourself if you’re in desperate need of some R&R. If you’re gift planner by nature, order the Make It Your Own Bundle and fill out the interactive quiz to help them get a feel for the gift you are looking for (if you don’t know the recipient that well, there’s an option for that too). Your box can be filled with anything from pre-mix cocktail packets, to sweet treats, games, and small decor pieces.
Made for commuters, dogs, and commuters who love their dogs, Roverlund is a gear brand founded in 2019 by Vogue alum Jamie Knowles. Along with their line of popular airline-friendly durable pet carriers, Roverlund has also released a line of Out-Of-Office bags that are as rugged as they are stylish.
The Carry-All bag takes a page from weekender-style suitcases of the Sixties and is great for long getaways, commutes, and yes, weekend trips. While these bags aren’t particularly made for camping (they’re airline compliant, though), they are made with the same kind of outdoorsy sensibility, using marine-grade, waterproof polyester material and mountain rope. The designs match with the pet carriers, so you can take your little buddy with you anywhere in style.