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11 Businesses Owned by Actual Queer People to Support This June

And every other month...

Becca Stickler

It’s that time of year again. Major corporations across the country are decking out their storefronts with rainbows in celebration of Pride, and raking in the cash from rainbow-covered merch.

But this “support” for the LGBTQ community is often empty, and rarely involves anything beyond selling the aforementioned decorations and merch. Fortunately, if you’re looking to shop this month, there’s a much better way to show your support for the queer community—and it’s shopping at businesses owned by actual queer people.

As one of those actual queer people myself, I’ve got plenty of recommendations. I also asked a few people on Lex (a queer community app) to tell me about their favorite brands, and found some new ones I can’t wait to shop with.

And remember: even if you don’t have the budget to shop with all of these businesses during the month of June, they’ll appreciate your support (and $$$) long after the other rainbow storefronts come down.

1. Astoria Bookshop

I’m a huge fan of independent bookstores, so I was thrilled when Lex-user Emma mentioned that Astoria Bookshop is queer-owned. In her words:

“It’s a great local bookshop with knowledgeable booksellers who have a wide range of interests—so you’ll be able to find something whether you’re into contemporary literary fiction, poetry, science fiction/fantasy, young adult, or anything else. They also have a great selection of local Queens and broader NYC authors.”

Buy: One of the staff picks from their storefront

2. Andie Swim

I bought a bikini from Andie before I even realized that the company was queer-owned. It’s genuinely very comfortable, a rarity for swimsuits, and quickly became my go-to choice for the beach/pool/any other scenario that requires a bikini.

I was already happy with my suit, and then I came across this article where founder Melanie Travis casually mentions her wife. I now like the brand even more, and happily recommend it to anyone in need of comfy swimwear.

Buy: The Havana Top in Neon Hibiscus ($55) and, ideally, one of the matching bottoms.

3. Automic Gold

Automic Gold is a very cool, very queer company that: a) doesn’t photoshop models, b) hires size-inclusive, non-cis and non-white models all year round, and c) makes jewelry from reclaimed (i.e. sustainable) gold. The owner also regularly posts extremely cute photos and videos of their dachshund on the company’s Instagram account.

If you’re somehow not sold yet, I can personally vouch for the quality of their jewelry. After following the company on Instagram for months, I bought my girlfriend a holiday gift from them last December—and we’re both very happy with that purchase.

Buy: The Essential Chain ($135)

4. Bluestockings

Bluestockings is “a volunteer-powered and collectively-owned radical bookstore, fair trade cafe, and activist center” in the Lower East Side. In addition to selling books, they also run a ton of events including Feminist Book Club, Prison Library Network Support Network Book Club, and Queer Book Club—all of which you can join via Zoom.

Buy: Detransition, Baby by Torrey Peters ($25), the pick for this month’s Feminist Book Club

5. Boy Smells

If you’re a Candle Person (or someone who spends a lot of time in trendy boutiques), you’re probably already familiar with Boy Smells. Co-founded by real-life partners Matthew Herman and David Kien, the company is, “Packaged in pink and conceived beyond the gender binary … [to] make loving your identity a daily ritual.”

Each of their products pair traditionally masculine and feminine scents, in a way that isn’t “overtly targeted to one gender.” They also, quite simply, smell very good.

Buy: PARK LIFE ($39), a ginger, basil, fig, sage, clove, tonka bean and sandalwood scent.

6. Chromat

Chromat is “future-forward bodywear” designed for people of all shapes and sizes. Though the brand has been around for over a decade, I first heard of it last fall, when founder Becca McCharen-Tran used its NYFW show to advocate for trans rights.

She’s been at the forefront of inclusivity in the industry for years, in ways that go beyond casting diverse models to walk in her shows. The brand is working to change the standard of beauty within the fashion industry, and also gives back to charities like the Audre Lorde Project and queer health initiatives.

Buy: Mica Zip Top in Lime ($88) and the matching bottoms.

7. Fluide

Fluide is “a mission-driven beauty brand that creates vegan, cruelty-free and paraben-free cosmetics designed for all skin shades and gender expressions.” As you’d expect, they center queer people in each of their campaigns, and work with queer photographers, stylists, and makeup artists whenever possible.

They also donate five percent of all proceeds to organizations that benefit the LGBTQ community, like the  Sylvia Rivera Law Project and Callen Lorde.

Buy: Lip Gloss ($12), in 12 different shades.

8. Queer Candle Co.

When I first posted on Lex that I was looking for queer-owned business recs, I receieved four DMs within seconds telling me to check out Queer Candle Co. Founded by a Brooklyn couple (Ab and Al) in 2017, they donate 10% of monthly earnings to the Sylvia Rivera Law Project.

Though most of the messages I received simply said some variant of “their candles are really good,” one person specifically said that “the Basil and Amber candle is wonderful.” A strong endorsement.

Buy: Basil & Amber Soy Candle ($17.50)

9. TomboyX

Founded by Fran Dunaway and Naomi Gonzalez (a married lesbian couple), TomboyX is a brand designed to, “fit all bodies, enhance lives, and empower wellbeing.” They started with underwear, and have now expanded to loungewear, tees, accessories, and swim.

Now, if you’ve ever met me, you know that I’m a huge proponent of boxer briefs. I’m also a huge proponent of well-reviewed products, and TomboyX’s boxer briefs have 2.2k+ reviews with an average of 5 stars. This is an easy buy.

Buy: 4.5” Trunks in Sunshine ($25)

10. Wildfang

My first introduction to Wildfang was a hand-me-down jumpsuit from a lesbian friend, which is arguably the gayest way to discover a new brand. It’s a great jumpsuit, and even better with the knowledge that it’s sold by a company “on a mission to rethink gender norms and how they show up in fashion.”

The company is dedicated to sustainability, and works with factory partners who not only meet standards for energy and water conservation, but also provide safe, humane working conditions. They’ve also given over $500k to organizations like the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, New Avenues for Youth, RAICES, and many others.

Buy: The Essential SS Coverall ($188)  

11. Yeah Dawg

When Wendy from Lex DMed me with a queer-owned vegan hot dog company, I knew I simply had to include it here. In her words, “They are very good.”

Run by nonbinary vegan chef Marino Benedetto, Yeah Dawg is based in Brooklyn and employs “queer vegans who don’t easily fit into traditional workplaces.” Follow them on Instagram to keep up with when their dawgs are at a festival, pop-up, or grocery store near you.

Buy: The Variety Pack ($25)

Becca is a Brooklyn-based writer and the author of a weekly newsletter about queer books and pop culture called Read Something Queer.