Financially supporting LGBTQ owned or allied businesses is a significant way to address the disparities in wage, access to health care, employment and rates of discrimination between gay and straight communities.
In 2019, Yelp added the “Open to All” feature that allows businesses to identify themselves as welcoming to everyone regardless of race, sexual orientation, gender identity and other identifying factors. In May of this year, the app added a search feature to distinguish businesses that are LGBTQ owned.
The feature was added after a skyrocket in searches for LGBTQ owned businesses. In April 2021, these searches increased by more than 150% from the year before as customers sought to express allyship, activism and pride.
In Athens, numerous small businesses are welcoming spaces allied with or owned by members of the LGBTQ community. The Red & Black compiled a list of these locations to support during Pride Month and throughout the year.
Athentic Brewing Company
Athentic Brewing Company, located on Park Avenue, serves craft beers and is a proud ally to the LGBTQ community in Athens. The brewery’s June calendar of events includes upcoming Queer Bingo and Queer Trivia. Earlier this month, the business even held a “Coming Back Out” party and a “Deja-Brew” drag show.
“Much of our staff identifies with the LGTBQ community and, as a community partner, we pride ourselves on creating safe spaces for all community members,” marketing and events coordinator Kimberley Wise wrote in an email.
The local business is selling Athentic Pride T-shirts decorated with a rainbow during the month of June. Twenty percent of the proceeds will go to Athens PRIDE, an independent nonprofit organization that builds fellowship and support for the LGBTQ community.
My Heart Salon Studio
Jo Thomas Wilson has cut and styled hair since 1999 and now owns and operates My Heart Salon Studio on Cleveland Avenue. Wilson identifies as nonbinary, going by he/they pronouns, and transgender. Wilson views hair as a medium for self expression and art.
Wilson incorporates sustainable practices into the business, describing My Heart Salon as “eco-conscious.” In addition, the stylist offers intuitive hair design and energy work to customers, as well as tarot card reading services.
Wilson spoke out about the importance of genderless expression in the beauty and salon industries. In a blog post for Simply Organic Beauty, a salon brand with a focus on ethical practices, Wilson wrote about the importance of elevating LGBTQ voices at salons. Using inclusive language is especially significant, Wilson wrote, so as not to disregard the identities of clients.
1000 Faces Coffee
In the month of June, 1000 Faces Coffee is donating a portion of its sales to Athens PRIDE. In addition, the cafe is celebrating Pride Month on its Instagram account, @1000facescoffee.
“At 1000 Faces, we aim to be a safe space for everyone. We honor and value having queer [identifying] people on our staff,” its recent post reads.
The National, Maepole, Seabear Oyster Bar and Condor Chocolates
Chef and business owner Peter Dale is a staple figure in the Athens community as the owner and co-owner of four of the city’s eateries: The National, Maepole, Seabear Oyster Bar and Condor Chocolates. He spoke about the importance of allyship and supporting the LGBTQ community in Athens.
“A business that is putting themselves out there by supporting a cause means that they could potentially be getting backlash from an opposing opinion,” Dale said.
This November when Athens PRIDE hosts their 2021 street festival, Condor Chocolates will sell rainbow confections and donate proceeds to an LGBTQ organization.