The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the US’ largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) civil rights organization, and SHOWTIME announced the third consecutive year of “QUEER TO STAY: An LGBTQ+ Business Preservation Initiative” (QTS) that aims to uplift and preserve small businesses that serve the LGBTQ+ community; particularly businesses that are owned by or empower LGBTQ+ people of color, women and the transgender community. This year, the initiative is expanding its pool of funding to $250,000 to be distributed among at least 25 small businesses.
In 2020, during the height of the pandemic, the inaugural “QUEER TO STAY” initiative awarded funds to ten LGBTQ+ businesses across the country; last year, with continued challenges faced by small businesses, the program doubled its capacity to support 20 LGBTQ+ businesses. Due to the ongoing success of Queer to Stay, the program is again adding to the number of awardees.
The businesses will be selected based on the communities they serve and how COVID-19 has affected them: “Queer to Stay” is accepting applications now until August 31, 2022. Eligible businesses can apply at queertostay.org. Recipients will be notified and announced later this year. Additionally, three Queer to Stay awardees were featured in a video, released today, that highlights how the funding helped their business stay afloat—watch here.
In the years since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, LGBTQ+ businesses have faced severe financial challenges and many are at risk of permanently closing. In 2021, the HRC Foundation issued a report,COVID-19 and the LGBTQ Community: Vaccinations and the Economic Toll of the Pandemic, which highlights data showing that LGBTQ+ adults and LGBTQ+ adults of color were facing the highest rates of unemployment since HRC and PSB began tracking community unemployment at the start of the pandemic. Additionally, LGBTQ+ adults, bisexual adults, LGBTQ+ adults of color and transgender adults were more likely than the general population to have recently had their work hours reduced due to the pandemic.