Pride 2020

How to Support LA’s LGBTQ Community During Pride Month

From virtual celebrations to online shopping.

Pride Month this year is guaranteed to be different than in years past, as our city — along with the world — is simultaneously dealing with both the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the struggle to end social injustice and police brutality. This year’s in-person Pride celebrations have largely been replaced with virtual events, while the annual Pride parade — of which Los Angeles was the very first city to celebrate — has been replaced with two events: LA’s first-ever virtual Pride Parade, a 90-minute special set to air on ABC7 on Saturday, June 13, and the All Black Lives Matter solidarity march on Sunday, June 14.

The LGBTQ community has always proven to be resilient in the face of adversity, so a reconfigured Pride Month comes as no surprise. But it’s still hard to deny that LA’s LGBTQ-owned businesses need support now more than ever, and Pride Month is the perfect time to do so.

Local LGBTQ businesses, including those of the Black queer community, have had a tough go in the wake of COVID-19. Queer people have seen headlineafterheadline announcing the permanent closure of gay bars in our social media feeds, a regularly occurring phenomenon that was only accelerated under the pandemic. This year’s Pride celebrations moving from in-person to digital will no doubt have a decimating affect on many more.  

This June, let’s all do our part to support LGBTQ- and especially Black-owned queer businesses -- which include some of LA’s finest restaurants, bars and boutiques -- even if it’s from the comfort of home.

Keep ordering from your favorite LGBTQ-owned restaurants

While restaurants across the city have begun opening their doors for in-house service again (adhering to strict local and state regulations, like enhanced cleaning and social distancing protocols), many more never stopped serving hungry locals via delivery and takeout options. 

In addition to its continued no-contact delivery options, East Side comfort food staple The Kitchen opened for in-house service earlier this month, albeit with reduced hours that will gradually expand as locals become more accustomed to in-person dining again. As with most now-open eateries, extra precautions are being taken, including a mask-clad waitstaff and fewer tables inside and on the outdoor patio to make social distancing easier. 

Also open for in-person service, Crossroads Kitchen -- where openly gay executive chef Scot Jones has highlighted plant-based fine dining since 2013 -- takes numerous precautions for its loyal regulars, including partitions installed between booths, newly added outdoor patio seating (dogs welcome), hand sanitizer on each table, temperature checks of staff and patrons, and QR code menus that have made paper menus all but obsolete (though a single-use menu is available for any Luddites seeking vegan eats). 

A few restaurants, like Chef Jon Rollo’s fast casual Greenleaf Gourmet Chopshop, have built their own apps for ordering directly, while others can take your order right from their website, like ice cream purveyors Coolhaus (where ground shipping is included when you order a pint).

Look to the web for staying fit

With gyms currently still off-limits in the time of COVID-19, some of our favorite LGBTQ personal trainers and local gyms have gotten creative in order to keep customers healthy despite being physically isolated. While several fitness pros have relied on virtual training sessions for years, many are posting exclusive (and free!) video content on social media platforms, where tips and tricks are easy to find with a little hashtag-sleuthing. 

Beth Bishop, owner of The Phoenix Effect, has effectively moved her entire gym’s programming online, a major feat for a studio that specializes in high-energy group classes. She’s created a robust online fitness community that doubles as a social circle, offering everything from workouts and workshops to yoga classes and cooking demos through Zoom and social media. “We're trying to really take care of people physically and mentally,” Bishop says.

Support gay bars and tip drag queens with the press of a button

Bars and nightclubs across the city, including LA’s beloved queer nightlife spots, will be among the last businesses able to open their doors. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t still ways to support these valuable spaces. Even the art form of drag, typically enjoyed while buzzed and hugging the stage, has found a way to survive and thrive in the time of Coronavirus. 

Since March, “digital drag shows” have become all the rage as easy-to-point-to proof that no one brings more ingenuity to the table than our LGBTQ community. Many of these digital events have suggested donations to ensure drag queens and kings get paid, while fans are also able to tip via performers’ PayPal and Venmo links. Keep your eyes glued to the social feeds of your favorite queens for more of these queer quarantine gigs.

And some of our city’s gay bars, like the local LGBTQ community’s DTLA home base, Precinct, have staged digital events featuring the bar’s regular entertainers and DJs. In early June, an online event celebrated the bar’s fifth anniversary with drag performances, live music and a video montage, and the bar was able to raise thousands for the LA County Bail Fund. Also, as with many of LA’s local queer bars, you can continue to support Precinct and its staff by purchasing merch directly from the website. 

Courtesy of Nomadica

Go on a quarantined shopping spree

These days it seems the entire world is used to shopping from the comfort of a couch, though that’s become more necessity than convenience of late. That said, online shopping is also one of the easiest ways to throw your support behind LGBTQ-owned businesses of all kinds. 

Like many businesses which have recently recalibrated their purpose due to Coronavirus, celebrity choreographer Jamal Sims’s LA-based ready-to-wear tuxedo lounge GROOM has been selling couture face coverings, available in several different sophisticated fabrics and patterns, online. Huntees, another QPOC-owned LA boutique, known for its pop culture-inspired tees, mugs and home furnishings, has added quirky and colorful face masks to its online shop as well.  

Highland Park’s The Juicy Leaf, a high-end boutique selling unique terrariums, plant and flower arrangements, pottery and select furniture pieces, has continued to keep its online shop running during the pandemic and is open by appointment. But husbands Felix and Felipe are also encouraging customers to get creative at home with weekly workshop kits, which come with access to a how-to Instagram livestream. Silver Lake’s The Plant Provocateur, has rebranded itself as a virtual shop for botanical goods. Customers are able to purchase items — potted plants, fresh vegetables, gardening supplies — online before picking them up at the shop's brick-and-mortar location, curbside and by appointment.

When it’s time to take a break from the world’s perpetually stressful news cycle, there’s no better way to do so than with a glass of wine — or maybe a can. Nomadica, an LGBTQ-run, LA-based company — your go-to for California-sourced canned wine — just released a limited-edition sparkling white wine for Pride Month, all of the profits from which go to Black Lives Matter and the Transgender Law Center. A four-pack will run you $30, with shipping available throughout California.

LGBTQ-owned boutiques, like playfully subversive ready-to-wear label Lockwood51, famous for its “Stay Queer as F*ck” casual wear, are continuing to keep their online stores open. 

In addition to the branded merch sold by loads of LA brands — including the aforementioned restaurants, gyms and gay bars — many businesses are pushing gift cards in the time of COVID-19, which is a simple but effective way for businesses to maintain a cash flow.

And let’s not forget our local LGBTQ artists: purchase their work, commission a piece of art, or throw some money their way in whatever ways make sense. 

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Stephan Horbelt arrived in Los Angeles nearly 20 years ago and never wants to leave. He's currently Executive Editor of the international gay social network Hornet.