Reaching $1 Million in Awarded Funding, the Human Rights Campaign and SHOWTIME® Announce the Fifth Year of QUEER TO STAY an LGBTQ+ Small-Business Preservation Initiative

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) civil rights organization, and SHOWTIME are launching the fifth year of “Queer to Stay: An LGBTQ+ Business Preservation Initiative.” This program is designed to support LGBTQ+ small businesses, especially those owned by and designed for LGBTQ+ people of color, women and the transgender community. Applications to participate this year open on May 29, 2024 and will run through August 31, 2024.

The Queer to Stay initiative launched in June 2020, awarding 10 LGBTQ+ small businesses across the country by addressing the financial hardships faced during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. With the fifth iteration of this program, Queer to Stay will reach $1 million in total distributed funding, awarding 100 businesses across the country over its lifetime.

“LGBTQ+ business owners empower local communities and make our movement stronger,” said Kelley Robinson, President of the Human Rights Campaign. “By creating safe spaces and providing services and products that uplift the community, these businesses help us to thrive, especially in areas that don’t feel welcoming for LGBTQ+ people. We are so excited to announce the fifth year of this program and to continue supporting LGBTQ+ small businesses, bringing about positive change nationwide.”

“Launched during a period of hardship, from the pandemic to the rise in anti-LGBTQ+ attacks, this program remains steadfast in its mission to empower and support LGBTQ+ business owners and help sustain critical safe spaces for the LGBTQ+ community,” said Puja Vohra, EVP of Consumer Marketing, Paramount+ and SHOWTIME. “We truly are inspired by the resilience of these businesses. Our commitment goes well beyond on-screen representation by also championing community impact work that allows all individuals to be their authentic selves without exception.”

Ninety percent of previous awardees still remain open for business. The following statements from some of Queer to Stay’s recipients illustrate the positive impact this support can have on LGBTQ+ business owners:

  • “First and foremost, without this grant we would not have been able to pay both our rent and our monthly expenses. In addition to having those costs covered, we were able to pay our trainers for additional classes and personal training sessions,” said Max Adler (he/him) Owner of OutBox Gym. “Our goal is to keep employing and paying members of the LGBTQ+ community who are looking to work in a safe and affirming environment. Our classes and services specifically cater to trans, non-binary, and queer folks so we consider it a win-win to be able to pay queer trainers and give our members safe classes and training.”

  • “We’ve launched Vermont Transmasc Camp and Vermont Trans Camp, two programs for trans adults that offer community building, skills workshops, and time to reflect on our gender journeys,” said Murphy Robinson (he/they) Founder of Mountainsong Expeditions. “We’ve gotten the feedback that these programs are life-changing and profoundly healing.”

  • “Receiving the ‘Queer to Stay’ funding was invaluable for Urbody. It not only provided us with essential financial support but also reaffirmed our commitment to serving the LGBTQ+ community,” said Anna Graham (she/her) Co-founder of Urbody. “This recognition fueled our passion and enabled us to further innovate and expand our offering of Gender-affirming underwear and activewear, ensuring that we continue to meet the needs of our community.”

  • “Queers supporting queers is just beautiful to witness. We celebrate our own success of providing skilled and accessible remodeling services by sharing it,” said Queers Remodel PDX (they/them). “The community response to the changes we have been able to make is that of mutual support. When one of us thrives, we all thrive.”

New this year, HRC and SHOWTIME are partnering with Accion Opportunity Fund (AOF), a financial support system for small businesses on a mission to advance economic justice for all and increase lending and resources to underinvested entrepreneurs. This partnership is expected to advance economic mobility and wealth creation by connecting the extensive network of Queer to Stay grant applicants to AOF’s flexible capital and free coaching resources.

Applications to participate this year open on May 29, 2024 and will run through August 31, 2024. Check out the newly updated promotional video and submit an application at queertostay.org.

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