Showtime and the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) have partnered for “Queer to Stay: An LGBTQ+ Business Preservation Initiative”. The program is set up to preserve businesses that serve the LGBTQ+ community with a focus on LGBTQ+ people of color, women and the transgender community. Applications for the initiative are open now and will be accepted through August 14.
As the pandemic continues to impact businesses, the initiative will make donations to a number of LGBTQ+ businesses, selected based on the communities they serve and how COVID-19 has affected them. COVID-19 has affected business all over the nation including LGBTQ+-serving spaces which have experienced significant revenue loss in June, when patrons are more likely to frequent LGBTQ+ businesses for Pride Month. By directing funds to these businesses, “Queer to Stay” demonstrates a continued commitment from HRC and Showtime to support and advocate for diverse members of the LGBTQ+ community.
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“We know that businesses like bars, restaurants and coffee shops often serve as affirming and welcoming spaces for LGBTQ+ people – including young people who may not have supportive families or communities at home,” said HRC President Alphonso David. “With a global pandemic and its economic impact threatening to shut down queer spaces, it’s important that we support and preserve those that have provided a place for LGBTQ+ people to express ourselves freely, find community and be our authentic selves. We are grateful to collaborate with Showtime on this initiative to protect and preserve LGBTQ+-serving spaces.”
“We are proud to continue our long-standing relationship with HRC this year by bringing aid to beloved and crucial LGBTQ+ locations,” added Michael Engleman, Chief Marketing Officer, Showtime Networks Inc. “Showtime has a history of telling diverse, complicated, authentic stories – with a marked emphasis on LGBTQ+ creators, characters and storylines. Our sincere hope is that this step marks only the beginning of a focus on spaces that are key to both the history and current lifeblood of the LGBTQ+ community.”
Amid the global pandemic, spaces serving the LGBTQ+ community are facing financial challenges and at risk of closures. LGBTQ+ bars, centers and businesses often serve as safe and affirming places for large portions of the community, especially for young queer and trans people and communities of color. As spaces like bars for LGBTQ+ people see a decline due to assimilation, gentrification and the rise of dating apps, some cities are seeing the return of mandatory business closures due to the pandemic. LGBTQ+ spaces are among those that are at risk of high impact. People of color have also faced challenges and discrimination in sustaining their small businesses. According to a study by the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, Black applicants who applied for Paycheck Protection Program loans were treated poorly or unfairly compared to their white counterparts. As the nation continues to navigate the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is uncertainty as to when businesses, including LGBTQ+-serving establishments, will return to usual.
In addition, HRC published a research brief outlining the particular health and economic risks faced by the LGBTQ+ community during the pandemic. Key findings have shown 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 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.
More details about the “Queer to Stay” initiative can be found here.
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