Vermont Business Magazine Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) civil rights organization, and SHOWTIME announced the Worcester business, Mountainsong Expeditions of Worcester, Vermont, as a recipient of “Queer to Stay: An LGBTQ+ Business Preservation Initiative” to support and uplift small businesses that focus on LGBTQ+ people of color, women and the transgender community who continue to be impacted by economic setbacks from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This year, on top of economic setbacks from COVID, we’ve seen a disturbing rise in anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric and attacks, including harm to some LGBTQ+ small businesses. That’s why it is critical to uphold affirming, welcoming spaces and services for our LGBTQ+ communities,” said Kelley Robinson, HRC President. “This initiative celebrates and supports our community by putting funds directly into the hands of multiply marginalized LGBTQ+ owned, and serving, small businesses around the country. We’re excited to partner with SHOWTIME once again to ensure that LGBTQ+ patrons, employees and business owners continue to occupy spaces freely and without exception as their authentic selves.”
The founder of Mountainsong Expeditions, Murphy Robinson (they/them), started their business “for queer community that went beyond a dance party or drag show, out into the open air and the world of nature.” The business has felt the economic effect of COVID-19 with last minute cancellations due to illness and other concerns all while trying to keep costs down. The grant will allow Robinson to expand their offerings and facilities, and keep programs affordable.
“Having spaces to connect with other queer and transgender people in the outdoors is deeply healing,” said Murphy Robinson (they/them), founder of Mountainsong Expeditions. “Learning outdoor skills empowers our students through a safe and supportive learning environment where they feel accepted and valued. They leave our programs with new friendships, confidence, and self-worth.”
During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, the inaugural “Queer to Stay” initiative awarded funds to 10 LGBTQ+ businesses across the country. Since then, it’s been reported that LGBTQ+ businesses were less likely to receive COVID relief funds. At the same time, some LGBTQ+ small businesses have been the target of outrageous, extremist anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric and attacks. With many LGBTQ+ businesses continuing to struggle in the economic aftermath of the global pandemic, HRC and SHOWTIME scaled up the initiative to include 25 businesses this year – five more than in 2021 – with a funding pool of $250,000. Watch a video about Queer to Stay here.
The additional awardees of “Queer to Stay: An LGBTQ+ Business Preservation Initiative” include:
Dorothy Downstairs (Chicago, IL), Three Palms Bar & Grill (New Orleans, LA), Stag PDX (Portland, OR), Bake Me Happy (Columbus, OH), Queer Therapy Network (Houston, TX), Celebrate Therapy (Provo, UT), M-Care (Witchita, KS), Queer Kid Stuff (Portland, ME), Harana Market (Woodstock, NY), Urbody (Los Angeles, CA), Peachy Births (Kansas City, MO), PTSFeminist (Atlanta, GA), As You Are (Washington, DC), Santé Bar (Portland, OR), Coffee Mafia (Auburn, AL), Goldspot Brewing Company (Denver, CO), Queer Chocolatier (Muncie, IN), Detroit Vesey’s (Los Angeles, CA), Los Angeles Blade (Los Angeles, CA), Womencrafts (Provincetown, MA), Queer Dance Project (Lakewood, CO), Salon Benders (Long Beach, CA), Euphoria (Denver, CO), and Franny Lou’s Porch (Philadelphia, PA).
“I am so proud of SHOWTIME for extending its QUEER TO STAY campaign! Supporting LGBTQ+ businesses combined with all the LGBTQ+ representation in SHOWTIME programming, QUEER TO STAY has made a major impact all over the country,” said actor Jamie Clayton, star of THE L WORD: GENERATION Q. “I’m honored to star on a show that depicts a vital LGBTQ+ small business on television. Playing Tess, who manages the inclusive, queer space, Dana’s Bar, on THE L WORD: GENERATION Q is such an exciting and vital thrill!”
HRC Foundation has published a research brief outlining the health and economic risks faced by the LGBTQ+ community during the COVID-19 pandemic. Key findings show that many LGBTQ+ people may lack the resources to effectively combat COVID-19; lack access to paid sick leave or live without health coverage; and are more likely to work in an industry that has been most affected by the pandemic, putting them in greater economic jeopardy or increasing their exposure to the virus. HRC Foundation research has also shown that LGBTQ+ people are more likely to be unemployed and to have lost work hours compared to the general population, with transgender people and people of color most at risk.
Season three of THE L WORD: GENERATION Q, the returning series based on the groundbreaking drama series THE L WORD®, is currently airing Friday nights on SHOWTIME. Packed with jaw-dropping surprises and guest stars, this season continues to follow the cast of characters as they struggle with secrets, old scars and new flames on their search for “The One.”
Showtime Networks Inc. (SNI), a wholly owned subsidiary of Paramount, owns and operates the premium service SHOWTIME®, which features critically acclaimed original series, provocative documentaries, box-office hit films, comedy and music specials and hard-hitting sports. SHOWTIME is available as a stand-alone streaming service across all major streaming devices and Showtime.com, as well as via cable, DBS, telco and streaming video providers. SNI also operates the premium services THE MOVIE CHANNEL™ and FLIX®, as well as on demand versions of all three brands. SNI markets and distributes sports and entertainment events for exhibition to subscribers on a pay-per-view basis through SHOWTIME PPV®. For more information, go to www.SHO.com.
The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ+ people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.
11.29.2022. WORCESTER, VT - Human Rights Campaign