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It’s National Coming Out Day! Time to let your rainbow flags fly and show your Pride in whatever way you choose. It’s always good to wear your gender and sexuality as loud and as proud as you want to, but a lot of the clothing and “Pride swag” you buy might not have the best intentions. A lot of corporations have been releasing rainbow-themed clothing and they try to convince you to buy it to show your support to the LGBTQ+ community. But beware, some are only doing it to make a profit—and we aren’t going to point any fingers, but this is obviously uncool.
So instead of worrying where your money is going, why not go straight to the community itself? There are tons of queer-owned companies, online and maybe even in your own neighborhood! You can find local businesses that are a part of the LGBTQ community through the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC), and if you’re a fan of online shopping and supporting LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs across the country, here are 20 queer-owned businesses you can support today and all year round!
Otherwild, which opened in in LA in 2012 and now has a second location in NYC, was founded by Rachel Berks. Berks is a queer woman who you might remember as the one who brought back “The Future is Female” shirt, after seeing the imagery from HerStory. Berks doesn’t just sell awesome stuff. She also uses her small business to give back to the community by donating to organizations like Planned Parenthood, The National Center for Transgender Equality, The Lesbian Herstory Archives, and Black Lives Matter. Her shop sells a variety of LGBTQ+ inspired apparel, accessories, housewares, media, and apothecary that range from loud and proud to silly to subtle.
TomboyX is a queer-owned brand that makes awesome underwear, apparel, and swimwear. Owners Fran Dunaway and Naomi Gonzalez started this business like many others—to fill a need: they wanted to provide “underwear that anybody could feel comfortable in, regardless of where they fell on the size or gender spectrum.” Through their own “human agenda,” TomboyX offers a huge variety of styles, designs, fits, and sizes available, ranging from XS-4X.
Fluide is a queer-owned beauty company that makes makeup for men, women, and everyone in between. Co-founders Isabella Giancarlo and Laura Kraber started this “radical, community-based beauty business” back in 2016 after wanting to see “queer beauty represented by queer people.” Fluide’s collection covers all gender expressions, identities, and skin tones so everyone can find something for them. The variety of makeup available is cruelty-free, glitter-free, and free from potentially harmful chemicals like parabens and formaldehyde, so you have one less thing to worry about.
Founded in 2013, Wildfang sells a variety of clothing, accessories, and shoes for all womxn ranging from casual to professional styles. Co-founded by former Nike employees Emma McIlroy and Julia Parsley, Wildfang is queer-owned and an inclusive feminist-leaning business. Some of their more well-known products are the Wild Feminist collection and the Empower Suit that comes with ACTUAL pockets and tons of flexibility. It doesn’t hurt that the company is great at giving back, too—in 2018 alone, Wildfang raised over $400k for charities that support reproductive, immigrant, and women’s and human rights.
Rebirth Garments are gender non-conforming wearables and accessories for people on the full spectrum of gender, size, and ability. Founder Sky Cubacub, as a nonbinary queer and disabled Filipinx human, really understands that the trans and disabled communities, in particular, have very specific clothing needs that are rarely if ever properly fulfilled by mainstream clothing designers. Rebirth Garments “challenges mainstream beauty standards that are sizeist, ableist, and conform to the gender binary.” This is an incredible website for those of you who felt as though you could never find clothes that truly fit your body or identity—and they have an Etsy shop too.
Matriarch is a company founded by two sisters, one of which is a lesbian, that runs on the belief that footwear shouldn’t be divided into men’s and women’s categories. They believe that “style and aesthetic preferences transcend gender lines and that foot size should not limit one's style or quality options.” These heirloom-quality shoes are made with vegetable tanned leather that is 100% organic and super sustainable, while also promising to be super comfortable. You can find shoes that range from 4.5 to 13 (in conventional US “women’s” sizing).
The dfrntpigeon fashion brand was created much differently than most other brands you shop. This company was started as a partnership between the digital design firm AKQA and Portland's New Avenues for Youth. Their business model is simple: Design professionals mentor homeless youth, 40% of whom identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community. These kids are then paid to design and market a clothing line that derives from their own lives and experiences; this then helps them fuel their careers and propel them into the working world. The store sells a variety of clothing, mugs, pins, patches, journals, stickers, and more. You even have the option to donate a shirt to a youth in need. This is an incredible idea and even more miraculous that this community-run business is gaining so much success.
Peau De Loup sells “androgynous-style clothing designed for all bodies with curves regardless of gender identity.” Founders Adelle Renaud and Erin McLeod were just like a lot of women out there — slightly tomboy-esque and wanting to wear “men’s” clothing but soon realized it wasn’t suited to fit the curves most “women” have. So they started by designing a well-made button-down for bodies with curves. In every “Alpha” shirt, there’s a secret inner pocket on the left breast to keep your cards, cash, or phone safe when you’re out and about. Think of it as a better hiding place for your things than your bra, because that’s where the idea came from. Peau De Loup also makes it a point to use upcycled fabrics so nothing is ever wasted.
Bianca Negron is the queer Latinx designer behind Bianca Designs, a small accessory shop run out of Queens, NY. Negron has been selling inclusive pins and fun accessories since 2017 that are bound to make your gay heart smile. I personally had to stop myself from buying everything off of this small site, especially her adorable embroidered shirts. And at such reasonable prices, you can’t help but spend all your money on Bianca.
Flavnt Streetwear is an Austin-based independent clothing company that promotes self-confidence and self-love through clothes. Co-owners Courtney and Chris Rhodes don’t believe in men’s and women’s clothing—just clothes that make you feel your most confident, truest self. The sisters are both LGBTQ+ and say their company is “by queer people for queer people.”
Married couple John Erdos + Louis Koay are the proud owners of Erdos and Ko, an online furniture store based in Dallas, TX. Their collection has a huge variety of furniture, upholstery, lighting, rugs, mattresses, art, and so much more. This is a little more upscale than some of the other stores, but it’s nice to see the LGBTQ+ community can be represented in a way other than through selling thematic apparel and accessories. Since they’re a small company, if you find something you love, you’ll need to contact them directly to arrange shipping if you’re not in the Dallas area—but if you are you can visit their showroom at the Dallas Market Center.
Dapper Boi is a gender-neutral, everyday clothing line for individuals of all body types. Founders Vicky and Charisse Pasche’s goal is to make people feel comfortable and confident in their own skin. Vicky talks on the site of how she used to shop in the men’s department and how it was not only an uncomfortable experience, but “men’s” clothing just isn’t made to fit the curves that “women’s” bodies have. Dapper Boi’s button-ups have room for curves, and even some hidden snaps on the button placket to ensure there is no chest gap — which in my opinion, is genius. They have a variety of clothing from jeans and jackets to joggers and jockstraps… just kidding on the last one—but they do have swimwear!
Started in 2010 by Stoney Michelli & Uzo Ejikeme (who are currently dating), Stuzo is a gender-free clothing company that is one of the few I found in my research to put an emphasis on the POC queer community. As they so cleverly put it, “Our pieces are unisex, or gender-free as we prefer to call them, because clothes don’t have any organs last time we checked.” Celebrities such as Ruby Rose (Orange is the New Black), Tiffany Haddish (Girls Trip), and Jada Pinkett Smith are some of the many, many people from all walks of life that wear Stuzo-brand clothing.
Pride Factory, which opened its doors in Fort Lauderdale in 1996, is a staple of the South Florida gay scene. Queer-owned and founded by Matthew and Lori Deak, the store itself is more than 8,300 square feet of men's swimwear, underwear, and fashion apparel, with tons of novelty items alongside and it’s all available online as well. Their variety of gym wear is quirky yet functional, and is clearly loved since they’ve been going strong for over 20 years.
This is one of the sweeter shops you’ll find on this list. Kathryn Sappho (a queer woman) spent a lot of her adult life in a tech career, but always had a passion for chocolate. One Christmas, her now business-partners Charlotte and Darlene were helping her pack over 2,000 truffles to be sent as presents to family and friends. As they were eating the imperfect ones, Charlotte asked Kathryn “why aren’t you selling these?” and that’s how Sappho Chocolates was founded. Now running an online store and a storefront in South Daytona, FL, Sappho makes chocolates in a variety of ways, including with molds made using a 3D printer. You can find a lot of popular treats, including chocolates in the shapes of the Star Wars characters, Dr. Who’s Tardis, video game controllers, chocolate frogs (like in Harry Potter), and many more. She even offers vegan and sugar-free treats!
Founded in 2015, gc2b is a trans-owned company based out of Maryland. Founder Marli Washington actually created the first binders that were designed and patented specifically for gender-affirming chest binding. So, the original chest binders were designed by trans people for trans people—how warm and fuzzy is that? They come in two different styles and 11 different colors, they’re swim-friendly, and their cotton blend inner panel provides comfortable compression. The gc2b website even has a very thorough guide on how to properly determine your size to get the best fit. And you can find more than just binders when you shop their site—they’ve expanded to sell cute pride-themed merch as well!
Located in the heart of downtown Indianapolis, Pumkinfish is a store of strange wonders — and it’s queer-owned too! If you’re the type of person that loves knick knacks but also wishes they could get some use out of those weird treasures they find, this is the place for you. They have an eclectic collection of unique gifts and goodies from all over the world, ranging from bath soaps to cocktail mixers to raunchy potholders to Cat Wine (yes, it’s for your cats). You’ll definitely be able to find something that tickles your fancy here—something that you didn’t even know you wanted but once you see it, you’ll need it immediately. And you can bookmark this for later and do all your holiday shopping in one go, while supporting an LGBTQ+ business.
The first time I visited HOMOCO’s website, I burst out in laughter. With categories like “Versatile Tops” and “Power Bottoms,” this shop’s got it all. But seriously, HOMOCO is a gay-owned queer swim brand owned by Daniel DuGoff. They make printed swim trunks out of recycled plastic and camp shirts from sustainably harvested Tencel. And in addition to trying to operate sustainably and help the environment, HOMOCO even donates a portion of their proceeds to ocean conservation as well as organizations that support queer rights. You’ll definitely find the perfect swim trunks for you, or even just the cutest shirt or dad hat to wear on your next beach trip.
Equal Period is a queer-women-owned organization empowering the LGBTQ+ community by creating clothing for a more diverse group of body types and identities. With sizes ranging from XS to 2XL, they are striving to change the boundaries of the fashion industry. Equal Period is dedicated to giving back to the LGBTQ+ community and even lists a number of nonprofit organizations that your purchase will positively impact.
I saved the most “scandalous” for last. So Babeland: you’ve heard of it, you (probably) love it. But did you know it is a queer-owned company? I didn’t! I was pleasantly surprised, but not actually that shocked, to find this out. If you don’t know what Babeland is, it’s a very popular online sex toy shop. The first store-front opened all the way back in 1993 when Claire Cavanah and Rachel Venning found a lack of women-friendly sex shops in Seattle. They were committed to offering information and encouragement to women who wanted to explore their sexuality—and now they have three more shops in NYC. They’ve become an e-commerce sex toy empire for all genders and sexualities. It felt only right that we finish with this shop, if you know what I mean… ;)
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