It’s no secret that smaller brands get drowned out by big-time corporations. And for Pride, these Big Companies often use queer symbols, colors, and words to create collections designed for the LGBTQ+ community without being designed by the LGBTQ+ community. But there are plenty of LGBTQ+ business owners to support who design for the community and its allies.
We sat down with some of our favorite LGBTQ-owned brands to get their POV and give you five more reasons to support them this Pride Month. Take it from them - supporting LGBTQ+ brands for Pride Month, and all year round - makes a serious difference.
LGBTQ+ brands empower the LGBTQ+ community
“These wearable objects create a wonderful statement and start interesting conversations that ultimately support our community. I wouldn't have my own apparel company if it wasn't activism-oriented. The whole point of starting Revel & Riot was to spread political messaging. I constantly think about the way that messaging impacts people when they're wearing it loud and proud, and making that explicit choice.
"For me, I live in Montreal and it's a super progressive town - I've never had a bad interaction when wearing my stuff. But I know for people who are wearing these shirts in their little towns, it's a major act of defiance and a major political statement for them. At times, they do it because they don't know how to speak to their family about what they believe in. They message me to tell me that the shirt is the conversation starter, which is always amazing to hear.
"We get so many e-mails from people saying, 'I'm buying this shirt because I'm about to see my whole family at Thanksgiving and I'm going to come out to them.' Once we had a wonderful coming out story of a person who bought 20 'allies' t-shirts to give to all of her family members. They make it part of their whole story and Revel and Riot becomes part of that story, which is incredible.”
Emy Storey, Revel & Riot
LGBTQ+ brands are a voice for equality everywhere
“Sometimes, it’s complicated to find the footing in this headstrong/feminist/women-first company from my place as a 'straight white male' business owner. Sometimes I question whether a young white guy is the best advocate for women's rights issues, but my trans experience is the root of my passion for feminism. I've first-handedly encountered how society treats you as a female-identifying person versus a male-identifying person, and that realization has pushed me to try to be a voice for equality. When I explain to people that I own a feminist fashion brand, they often look a bit confused at my outward appearance. I think that's something I'd like to try to change people's mind about - feminism is unisex. Men can (and frankly should) be feminists.”
Ryder Chosewood, One.Nine
LGBTQ+ brands normalize LGBTQ+ representation in retail and beyond
“As an LGBTQ+ business owner, we have a lot of power and responsibility in terms of getting our message out there. Growing up as a (closeted) lesbian, I stayed in the closet so long because I just felt really different and alone. I never saw anything gay-themed unless it was hyper-sexualized. I didn't know any adults who were out of the closet.
"It's important that Ash and I, as members of the LGBTQ+ community, make sure that we try to open the door as wide as possible so that nobody feels in the dark - that goes for other members of our community, allies, and even people who aren't as accepting. Part of helping others not feel different or alone is simply exposure - a ton of our products - and products from other awesome brands - are LGBTQ+ themed, and I think once we start to make it normal to see this, then we start to take one step closer to changing the landscape of our society."
Chessie Needham, Ash + Chess
LGBTQ+ brands encourage the community to rise above challenges
“One struggle I’ve faced that’s in some ways connected to my identity, is that I’m also a survivor of sexual assault. Running my own business, one that is dependent on my own creative vision and my voice, is not always compatible with the mental health effects of trauma, and there aren’t a lot of resources for that. Particularly not for working artists on shoestring budgets. Taking a mental health day, or several, has a direct impact on my bottom line and my ability to thrive the following week or month. I bring this up here because LGBTQ+ populations live with the risk (and the fallout) of many specific kinds of violence, often with limited resources for justice and healing, and I don’t think we talk enough about the material impact of that.”
Lindsay Eyth, Eythink
LGBTQ+ brands give back
“I feel so, so happy, and so excited, and so accomplished that people are even putting our LGBTQ-themed product in their stores. Whenever I came out to my parents, it was okay. It wasn’t a horrible experience. But it was still pretty shitty in ways, in the sense that 'oh no, you can't be gay - that's wrong.' But I know that there are are so many queer folks that have it way worse, and it's really hard for them to be gay in the world. I'm really excited we are able to offer a product that can help normalize being gay.
"This year, we actually launched two new designs that we have in art prints and cards, and we're giving 10% of the sales to The Ali Forney Center in New York. They help LGBTQ+ homeless youth, and I want to get even more on board with doing that. With giving back. People are buying our stuff, so I want other people to benefit from it financially that wouldn't have the means otherwise.”
Ashley Molesso, Ash + Chess