How to Support LGBTQ Businesses in Philadelphia During Pride
Did someone say digital drag show?
Pride month in Philly is here -- a reminder of the power of protest for achieving justice for marginalized communities. This is, of course, especially poignant in the wake of current worldwide protests of police brutality and important because of how hard COVID-19 has affected the LGBTQ community.
Queer workers are more likely to experience a decrease in work hours, compared to the general population, according to a poll from the Human Rights Campaign and research analytics firm PSB Research. Without the performance spaces and watering holes which help foster the city’s LGBTQ community, some are struggling with the loss of physical gatherings.
“Our community is definitely hurting right now and we can’t be together which is difficult,” said local drag performer Eric Jaffe. “Queer friends are more than friends, we’re family members. For the last five years, I’ve spent my life in these spaces and with those people and I didn't really realize how much that meant to me until it was taken away.”
With Pride month here, and large-scale events canceled or turned virtual, there are a number of ways to show love to the Philly queer community, from donating to worthy causes to ordering curbside from your favorite bars and restaurants.
Donate to worthy causes
Send your dollars to other local organizations, too. The Attic Youth Center provides programming and counseling for LGBTQ youth, GALAEI works to educate the queer Latinx community on cultural literacy and HIV prevention, William Way Community Center is a pillar in the community, providing events and wellness programming, Philadelphia Fight offers healthcare to low-income members of the community, Bebashi serves the health needs of people of color living with HIV/AIDs, and Philly AIDS Thrift distributes funds to nearly two dozen local AIDS organizations.
Attend virtual events
From the start of stay-at-home orders in Philly, drag performers quickly adapted, moving their shows to a live-stream format. “It’s really amazing to see how many people in our community have just decided that no matter what the situation is, we're going to continue to do what we do,” Jaffe said. “Queer community members have really stepped up and are creating not just fun content, but content that’s informative, content that helps us feel closer as a community.”
Jaffe hosts regular Digital Drag Brunches on Facebook Live -- part cooking show, part silly performance. Frequent collaborator Lili St. Queer also takes to Facebook Live for comedic cabaret performances, including every Thursday in June for LGBTQ History Happy Hour.
Local drag queen VinChelle is hosting a virtual drag show on Facebook Live on June 13 with proceeds benefiting Black Lives Matter. Swan Flambe hosts digital drag benefits dubbed Dragged Into A Computer, featuring a rotating cast of queer performance artists on Facebook Live, with funds donated to local charities. Every Tuesday Icon Ebony Fierce hits Facebook Live for Ebony’s Confessions, an online talk show format where viewers can submit questions, comments, gossip for them to mull over. Just remember, whatever show (or shows) you tune into, please tip your performers handsomely.
Tip your bartenders
Since many queer performers are out of work due to the pandemic, you can donate directly to local LGBTQ bar and restaurant staff, DJs, and drag and burlesque performers through an online database called Queerantine.Me. A number of workers and performers have their CashApp and Venmo handles listed, so any time you mix a drink or even just think of your favorite bartenders and artists, send them a few bucks.
Shop queer-owned retail online
It’s never been easier to support local queer-owned businesses -- you don’t even need to leave your house. Jaffe has been ordering online from Passional Boutique and Sexploratorium, a fetish, clubwear, and sex shop. “They have a lot of things that I use as a drag performer that I can’t really get anywhere else, like lashes and fishnets,” they said.
Shop tees, sweatshirts, hats, and more from Naturally Queer. Online shop Nerdy Keppie is stocked with face masks, complete with various Pride designs. And don’t forget to buy your Pride In A Box kit, complete with goodies like koozies, personalized playlists, candles, and tees, plus a virtual performance from Jaffe.
Get your cocktails to-go
And now that Philly’s on that cocktail-to-go game, eat and sip fancy from some of your favorite eateries like chef Marcie Turney and spouse and business partner Valerie Safran’s Barbuzzo, Lolita, Bud & Marilyn’s, and Little Nonna’s. Tabu Lounge & Sports Bar is serving up frose, frozen margs, and other mixed drinks to-go.
Stay active on social media
For a cost-free way to stay up-to-date on what local queer businesses, activists, and organizers are up to, give them a follow on social media, Jaffe said, since that’s the world’s primary mode of advertisement these days.
While Pride might look a little different this year, it’s important to maintain community, even from afar. So leave a thoughtful comment on a great live performance or show your love to the bartenders you’re missing.
“Our community has faced so much over the years that we are lucky to be able to still connect in this time,” Jaffe said. “At the end of it, it’s all about connection.”
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