It's Pride Month, and every corporation’s logo has suddenly evolved to include the pride flag. While performative virtue-signaling is nice every once in a while, the companies and nonprofits featured below are run by and for queer people, so why not support them instead?
These eight entities are taking it upon themselves to ensure that queer people have access to the same comforts that many people take for granted. Whether it is the clothes we wear or sex toys we enjoy, the LGBTQ+ community has specific needs that are very rarely met by products made and marketed to straight, cisgender consumers.
Thank god someone finally put in the work (the bare minimum) to provide comfortable underwear and lingerie to trans women. You would think underwear is such a basic need that it would be accessible to everyone, but until very recently, your options as a trans woman were to wear briefs, tuck yourself into underwear that was never designed for you, or make your own.
Carmen Liu is a lingerie and underwear company that provides comfortable underwear to anyone who tucks, not just pre-transition trans women. Carmen Liu, a trans woman herself, started the business after beginning her transition and realizing there were little to no options for underwear made specifically for trans femmes. Liu’s company has even recently come out with a line for kids just starting their journey as trans or nonbinary, giving them a life much different than that of the trans women who have come before them.
I first encountered 69 Herbs in a San Francisco plant store that was full of succulents and sex toys. The New York-based apothecary creates unique, all-natural blends of herbal remedies that, in its words, “aestheticizes a dream of collective healing.” The blends are all designed by Jade Marks, who has a background in farming and grows most of the herbs used in the blends on a small farm in New York State.
Marks’s love for herbal remedies was solidified when they became a source of healing and comfort while grieving their mother’s death. When products like CBD and other herbal remedies became popular but less and less accessible, Marks was inspired to create a line of herbal remedies that represents their community. In an interview with the Alchemist Kitchen, they explained, “I wanted to make blends that centered people who are trans and queer, disabled and sick, people struggling with mental health, sex workers, traumatized people, sober folks, drug users and people in recovery. That’s who my people are, and we’re also a people with an incredible collective knowledge about how to survive and heal together.”
Gnat Glitter Kink
If you’ve ever experienced the queer night life scene of Chicago, you’ve probably seen the work of Gnat Rosa Madrid, owner of the femme-centered fetish and bondage gear business, Gnat Glitter Kink. Gnat started her journey as a fashion student at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and was frustrated with how gendered and binary-focused most fashion was. For her, the leather harnesses and fetish gear she made were a way to step outside of those expectations.
In an interview with Scapi Magazine, she explained, “The history of leather is very masculine, and I am grateful to the gay elders that came before me that created that space, but I think that now that we are contemporary queer people, we need to move beyond that binary.”
Started by Marli Washington in 2015, Gc2b is the first company to design and patent gender-affirming binders specifically for trans and nonbinary people. Binders are a great example of the harm that can be caused by a product when it is not intentionally created with queer folks in mind. Almost 97% of people who use binders report negative side effects such as difficulty breathing, chest pains, and — in extreme cases — rib fractures.
Washington, who is a trans man, has made an intentional effort to create gender-affirming garments that are both comfortable and accessible to the community that needs them most. Through Gc2b, he has raised over $100,000 for organizations supporting the Black trans community and donated over 6,000 binders to those who wouldn’t be able to afford his products otherwise.
The National Queer and Trans Therapists of Color Network
Sadly, one of the more common experiences for queer folks, specifically Black queer and trans folks, is a lack of access to much-needed mental health resources. Whether the barriers are financial, institutional, or just plain ignorance of the issues that effect queer communities, The National Queer and Trans Therapists of Color Network was organized as a way to combat these barriers.
The NQTTCN was originally started by Erica Woodward as an attempt to bridge the gap between the resources and the need for mental health support for Black queer and trans organizers. The company provides training both to mental health practitioners and organizations working with QTPoC (queer and trans people of color) in an attempt to, “build the capacity of QTPoC mental health practitioners, increase access to healing justice resources, provide technical assistance to social justice movement organizations to integrate healing justice into their work.”
If you need somewhere to throw your money this month, and you’ve already put money in the hands of the black trans women in your life, then donating to the NGTTCN is a great way to support the formation of a mental health system rooted in the healing of QTPoC.
Origami Customs is probably the most ethically sound business on this list. Much like G2cb, Origami specializes in gender-affirming underwear and lingerie, but what sets this brand apart is all of the pieces are made custom for each customer to ensure a perfect fit for any and all body types.
When it comes to sustainability, Origami Customs sources all of its fabrics locally, as well as donates to organizations working to establish indigenous sovereignty and return the land to its original stewardship. The founder, Rae Solara, is a non-binary queer femme who started the business in Honduras, and it has traveled with Rae to three countries over the span of 30 years.
I think we can all agree that sex education in this country is pretty abysmal — and that’s just for the straights. For queer folks who must force the world to recognize their existence, sex education is almost nonexistent. The O.school is an online resource created by Andrea Barrica to work on this disparity.
Barrica is a queer woman who grew up in a strictly religious Filipino household, and O school became the answer to a childhood filled with abstinence-oriented and fear-based sex education. Whether you are teaching your kids about consent or looking for tips on how to best communicate your needs with your partner, O School has a library of articles, videos, and livestreams from professionals ranging from sex therapists to gynecologysts here to answer any and all of your questions.
Wet For Her
Last but not least is the queer-owned sex toy company, Wet for Her. Frustrated by the sex toy industry’s lack of products for nonphallic sex, founder Alice Derock wanted to create a sex toy company that would service the needs and pleasure of lesbians and queer women in general. The company started off with the sale of double finger extenders and has since evolved to include everything from strap-ons to lube to my favorite, the BumpHer. The company is growing in reach as well. While it started with a focus on cisgender queer women, it has expanded to include packers and other products for trans men.